Official State Soil

aka: Stuttgart Soil Series

Act 890 of the Arkansas General Assembly of 1997 designated the Stuttgart soil series the official state soil. The bill was introduced by Representative Wanda Northcutt of District 81, which encompassed parts of five counties (Arkansas, Desha, Jefferson, Lonoke, and Prairie) noted for their agricultural production founded literally on the presence of the Stuttgart soils.

The soils, named for Stuttgart (Arkansas County), are distributed over roughly 200,000 acres of east and southeast Arkansas. These acres are used primarily for cropland; the dominant crops are rice, small grains, soybeans, and corn. Stuttgart soil is, in fact, made up of several soils, layered in a predictable order, although the thickness varies. Stuttgart series soils typically exhibit three layers: the upper layers are of different silt loams, and the subsoils are rich in red and gray silty clays. The high percentage of clay in the subsoil gives it a slow permeability. This makes the Stuttgart series ideal for rice culture.

Act 890 characterized the series as a member of a soil family of fine, smectitic, thermic albaquultic hapludalfs. The series is a member of the order alfisol; these are highly fertile, leached forest soils, whose subsoils are clayey. Hapludalfs are soils of humid climates. The albaquultic subgroup implies that the series exhibits an abrupt textural change, has a moderately high water table during part of the year, and has a base saturation of less than sixty percent at fifty inches below the top of the subsoil. Thermic refers to an average annual soil temperature of 15o to 22o Celsius (59o to 72o Fahrenheit). Smectitic implies that the subsoil clay is dominated by minerals that expand when wet and contract when dry. Fine means the soil contains a high percentage of fine silt and clay particles. An alternate description has been advanced by researchers who characterize the soil as being fine, montmorillonitic (exhibiting significant presence of a type of clay), thermic typic natrudalfs (indicating the presence of exchangeable sodium).

For additional information:
“‘Stuttgart’ the Arkansas State Soil.” United States Department of Agriculture. Natural Resources Conservation Service. (accessed August 3, 2023).

Ware, David. It’s Official! The Real Stories behind Arkansas’s State Symbols. 2nd ed. Little Rock: Butler Center Books, 2017.

David Ware
Arkansas Secretary of State’s Office


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