According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Reserouves Conservation Service:
This definition is from the Soil Science Society of America:
soil survey - (i) The systematic examination, description, classification, and mapping of soils in an area. Soil surveys are classified according to the kind and intensity of field examination. (ii) The program of the National Cooperative Soil Survey that includes developing and implementing standards for describing, classifying, mapping, writing, and publishing information about soils of a specific area.
Expanded Definition and Uses
Soil survey, or soil mapping, is the process of classifying soil types and other soil properties in a given area and geo-encoding such information. It applies the principles of soil science, and draws heavily from geomorphology, theories of soil formation, physical geography, and analysis of vegetation and land use patterns. Primary data for the soil survey are acquired by field sampling and by remote sensing. Remote sensing principally uses aerial photography but LiDAR and other digital techniques steadily gaining in popularity. In the past, a soil scientist would take hard-copies of aerial photography, topo-sheets, and mapping keys into the field with them. Today, a growing number of soil scientists bring a rugidized tablet computer and GPS into the field with them. The tablet may be loaded with digital aerial photos, LiDAR, topography, soil geo-data-bases, mapping keys, and more.
The information in a soil survey can be used by the public as well as the scientific community. For example, farmers and ranchers can use it to help determine whether a particular soil type is suited for crops or livestock and what type of soil management might be required. An architect or engineer might use the engineering properties of a soil to determine whether or not it was suitable for a certain type of construction. A homeowner may even use the information for maintaining or constructing their garden, yard, or home.
From the USDA:
A soil survey is a detailed report on the soils of an area.
The soil survey has maps with soil boundaries and photos, descriptions, and tables of soil properties and features.
Soil surveys are used by farmers, real estate agents, land use planners, engineers and others who desire information about the soil resource