Property values as affected by loess thickness and texture

B. L. Becker, A. J. Bryce, R. J. Schaetzl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We tested the longstanding (but untested) premise that loess cover (thickness and texture) positively impact the value of land parcels. To do this, we visited 1178 upland sites across 12 counties in Wisconsin with a mix of land uses; each site was underlain by loess of varying thickness. We sampled the loess at each site with a 195-cm long hand auger, and measured its thickness. The per-acre value of each parcel was then determined, where possible, using an online website. Parcels that contained buildings and structures, those whose per-acre values were not listed on the web site, and sites for which we lacked accurate thickness data (because the loess was > 195 cm thick) were eliminated from the dataset, resulting in a final count of 461 sites for analysis. The data, compared statistically using simple linear and logarithmic regressions, indicate that land values are highest on sites with thicker and siltier loess. This conclusion is in agreement with observations made on the ground while sampling. The strongest correlation (R2 = 0.268; P-value <0.001) with land value occurred on a composite variable, developed to mimic the total mass of fine and medium silt in a 1 cm2 column of loess from the soil surface to the bottom of the loess, indicating that the most prized land in the study area occurs on sites with the thickest and the most “fine-silty” loess.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100741
JournalAeolian Research
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Land use
  • Land value
  • Loess thickness
  • Wisconsin


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