Advertisement

Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 89–95 | Cite as

Soil Quality: A Review of the Science and Experiences in the USA

  • B.J. Wienhold
  • S.S. Andrews
  • D.L. Karlen
Article

Abstract

An increasing human population is placing greater demand on soil resources, and as a result degradation is taking place in many regions of the world. This is critical because soils perform a number of essential processes including supporting food and fiber production, influencing air quality through interaction with the atmosphere, and serving as a medium for storage and purification of water. The soil quality concept was introduced to complement soil science research by making our understanding of soils more complete and helping guide the use and allocation of labor, energy, fiscal, and other inputs as agriculture intensifies and expands to meet increasing world demands. Soil quality thus provides a unifying concept for educating professionals, producers, and the public about the important processes that soils perform. It also provides an assessment tool for evaluating current management practices and comparing alternative management practices. Soil attributes comprising a minimum data set have been identified, and both laboratory and field methods have been developed for measuring them. A soil quality index is being developed to normalize measured soil quality indicator data and generate a numeric value that can be used to compare various management practices or to assess management-induced changes over time. Using previously published data, we evaluated the soil quality index as a tool to assess a wide range of management practices in the Northern Great Plains. The index ranked the treatments: grazed fertilized tame pasture > moderately grazed > ungrazed> heavily grazed > annual cropping with no-tillage > conventionally tilled crop-fallow which agrees with the way they were subjectively ranked in the publications. The soil quality index shows potential for use as a management assessment tool.

grazing soil assessment soil function soil management soil quality index 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References cited

  1. Andrews SS, Carroll CR. 2001 Designing a decision tool for sustainable agroecosystem management: soil quality assessment of a poultry litter management case study. Ecol Appl 11(6), 1573–1585.Google Scholar
  2. Andrews SS, Mitchell JP, Mancinelli R, Karlen DL, Hartz TK, Horwath WR, Pettygrove GS, Scow KM, Munk DS. 2002a On-farm assessment of soil quality in California's central valley. Agron J 94, 12–22.Google Scholar
  3. Andrews SS, Karlen DL, Mitchell JP 2002b A comparison of soil quality indexing methods for vegetable production systems in northern California. Agric Ecosyt Environ 90, 25–45.Google Scholar
  4. Brejda JJ, Karlen DL, Smith JL, Allan DL. 2000a Identification of regional soil quality factors and indicators: II. Northern Mississippi Loess Hills and Palouse Prairie. Soil Sci Soc Am J 64, 2125–2135.Google Scholar
  5. Brejda JJ, Moorman TB, Karlen DL, Dao TH. 2000b Identification of regional soil quality factors and indicators: I. Central and Southern High Plains. Soil Sci Soc Am J 64, 2115–2124.Google Scholar
  6. Brejda JJ, Moorman TB, Smith JL, Karlen DL, Allan DL, Dao, TH. 2000c Distribution and variability of surface soil properties at a regional scale. Soil Sci Soc Am J 64, 974–982.Google Scholar
  7. Doran JW, Jones AJ. 1996 Methods for Assessing Soil Quality. SSSA Spec. Publ. No. 49. Madison, WI: Soil Sci. Soc. Am., Inc.Google Scholar
  8. Doran JW, Coleman DC, Bezdicek DF, Stewart BA. 1994 Defining Soil Quality for a Sustainable Environment. SSSA Spec. Publ. No. 35. Madison, WI: Soil Sci. Soc. Am., Inc.Google Scholar
  9. Gomez AA, Swete Kelly DE, Syers JK, Coughlan KJ. 1996 Measuring sustainability of agricultural systems at the farm level. In Doran JW, Jones AJ, eds. Methods for Assessing Soil Quality. Spec. Publ. No. 49. Madison, WI: Soil Sci. Soc. Am., pp. 401–409.Google Scholar
  10. Haub C, Farnsworth-Riche M. 1994 Population by the numbers: trends in population growth and structure. In Mazur LA, ed. Beyond the Numbers. Washington, DC: Island Press, pp. 95–108.Google Scholar
  11. Hussain I, Olson KR, Wander MM, Karlen DL. 1999 Adaptation of soil quality indices and application to three tillage systems in southern Illinois. Soil Till Res 50, 237–249.Google Scholar
  12. Jaenicke EC, Lengnick LL. 1999 A soil-quality index and its relationship to efficiency and productivity growth measures: two decompositions. Am J Agric Econ 81, 881–893.Google Scholar
  13. Jenny H. 1941 Factors of Soil Formation, A System of Quantitative Pedology. NY: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
  14. Karlen DL, Mausbach MJ, Doran JW, Cline RG, Harris RF, Schuman GE. 1997 Soil quality: a concept, definition, and framework for evaluation. Soil Sci Soc Am J 61, 4–10.Google Scholar
  15. Karlen DL, Gardner JC, Rosek MJ. 1998 A soil quality framework for evaluating the impact of CRP. J Prod Agricul 11, 56–60.Google Scholar
  16. Karlen DL, Rosek MJ, Gardner JC, Allan DL, Alms MJ, Bezdicek DF, Flock M, Huggins DR, Miller BS, Staben ML. 1999 Conservation reserve program effects on soil quality indicators. J Soil Water Conserv 54, 439–444.Google Scholar
  17. Larson WE, Pierce FJ. 1991 Conservation and enhancement of soil quality. In Dumanski J et al., eds. Evaluation for Sustainable Land Management in the Developing World, Vol. 2, Technical Papers, Bangkok, Thailand: Int. Board for Soil Res. and Management, pp. 175–203.Google Scholar
  18. Larson WE, Pierce FJ. 1994 The dynamics of soil quality as a measure of sustainable management. In Doran JW et al., eds, Defining Soil Quality for a Sustainable Environment, Spec. Publ. No. 35. Madison, WI: Soil Sci. Soc. Am., pp. 37–51.Google Scholar
  19. Liebig MA, Doran JW. 1999 Impact of organic production practices on soil quality indicators. J Environ Qual 28, 1601–1609.Google Scholar
  20. Liebig MA, Doran JW, Gardner JC. 1996 Evaluation of a field test kit for measuring selected soil quality indicators. Agron J 88, 683–686.Google Scholar
  21. National Research Council. 1993 Soil and Water Quality: An Agenda for Agriculture.Washington, DC: National Academic Press.Google Scholar
  22. Pimentel D, Harvey C, Resosudarmo P, Sinclair K, Kurz D, McNair M, Crist S, Shpretz L, Fitton L, Saffouri R, Blair R. 1995 Environmental and economic costs of soil erosion and conservation benefits. Science 267, 1117–1123.Google Scholar
  23. Romig DE, Garlynd JJ, Harris RF. 1996 Farmer-based assessment of soil quality: a soil health scorecard. In Doran JW, Jones AJ, eds. Methods for Assessing Soil Quality. Spec Publ No 49. Madison, WI: Soil Sci Soc Am, pp. 39–60.Google Scholar
  24. Rosegrant MW, Leach N, Gerpacio RV. 1998 Alternative Futures for World Cereal and Meat Consumption. Washington, DC: International Food Policy Institute.Google Scholar
  25. Seybold CA, Mausbach MJ, Karlen DL, Rogers HH. 1998 Quantification of soil quality. In Lal R, Kimble JM, Follett RF, Stewart BA, eds. Soil Processes and the Carbon Cycle. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press LLC, pp. 387–404.Google Scholar
  26. USDA-NRCS. 1998 Soil Quality Test Kit Guide. Section 1. Test Procedures, and Section 2. Background and Interpretive Guide for Individual Tests, USDA-NRCS. Ames, IA: Soil Quality Institute.Google Scholar
  27. Wander MM, Bollero GA. 1999 Soil quality assessment of tillage impacts in Illinois. Soil Sci Soc Am J 63, 961–971.Google Scholar
  28. Warkentin BP, Fletcher HF. 1977 Soil quality for intensive agriculture. In Proc Int Sem on Soil Environ and Fert Manage in Intensive Agric Soc Sci Soil and Manure. Tokyo: Natl Inst of Agric Sci, pp. 594–598.Google Scholar
  29. Wienhold BJ, Halvorson AD. 1998 Cropping system influences on several soil quality attributes in the northern Great Plains. J Soil Water Conserv 53, 254–258.Google Scholar
  30. Wienhold BJ, Halvorson AD. 1999 Nitrogen mineralization responses to cropping, tillage, and nitrogen rate in the Northern Great Plains. Soil Sci Soc Am J 63, 192–196.Google Scholar
  31. Wienhold BJ, Hendrickson JR, Karn JF. 2001 Pasture management influences on soil properties in the Northern Great Plains. J Soil Water Conserv 56, 27–31.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • B.J. Wienhold
    • 1
  • S.S. Andrews
    • 2
  • D.L. Karlen
    • 3
  1. 1.USDA-ARSLincolnUSA; (tel.:
  2. 2.USDA-NRCSAmesUSA
  3. 3.USDA-ARSAmesUSA

Personalised recommendations