Advertisement

Soil Health: Challenges and Opportunities

  • Diane E. StottEmail author
  • Bianca N. Moebius-Clune
Part of the Progress in Soil Science book series (PROSOIL)

Abstract

In recent years, a broad stakeholder base within the agricultural sector and among the public has become aware of the critical importance of healthy soils, spurred by public awareness campaigns and workshops. As we continue to grapple with a changing climate and more extreme weather events, regenerating the health and proper functioning of our nation’s, and indeed world’s, soil resource will markedly improve the capacity of soil to maintain or increase yield and yield stability, lower input costs, and contribute to other ecosystem services. This is true not only for croplands but also for pastures and native rangelands, orchards, and forests. To aid in moving forward initiatives to help farmers and ranchers improve the soil resource base, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has created a new Soil Health Division (SHD). Personnel distributed across the country will facilitate soil health technical training and education for stakeholders, work with partners to standardize soil health assessments, promote soil health management systems as part of the conservation planning process, and facilitate implementation and long-term adoption of soil health management systems on our nation’s agricultural lands. The new division will leverage skills, resources, technology, and partnerships to achieve these goals.

Keywords

NRCS Soil Health Division Assessments Management 

References

  1. Andrews SS, Karlen DL, Cambardella CA (2004) The soil management assessment framework: a quantitative soil quality evaluation method. Soil Sci Soc Am J 68:1945–1962. doi: 10.2136/sssaj2004.1945 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Blanco-Canqui H, Shaver TM, Lindquist JL, Shapiro CA, Elmore RW, Francis CA, Hergert GW (2015) Cover crops and ecosystem services: insights from studies in temperate soils. Agron J 107:2449–2474. doi: 10.2134/agronj15.0086 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Briske DD, Derner JD, Brown JR, Fuhlendorf SD, Teague WR, Havstad KM, Gillen RL, Ash AJ, Willms WD (2008) Rotational grazing on rangelands: reconciliation of perception and experimental evidence. Rangel Ecol Manag 61:3–17. doi: 10.2111/06-159r.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. David MB, McLsaac GF, Darmody RG, Omonode RA (2009) Long-term changes in Mollisol organic carbon and nitrogen. J Environ Qual 38:200–211. doi: 10.2134/jeq2008.0132 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Derner JD, Boutton TW, Briske DD (2006) Grazing and ecosystem carbon storage in the North American Great Plains. Plant Soil 280:77–90. doi: 10.1007/s11104-005-2554-3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Doran JW, Parkin TB (1994) Defining and assessing soil quality. In: Doran JW, Coleman DC, Bezdicek DF, Stewart BA (eds) Defining soil quality for a sustainable environment. Soil Science Society of America, Madison, pp 1–21Google Scholar
  7. Doran JW, Coleman DC, Bezdicek DF, Stewart BA (eds) (1994). Defining soil quality for a sustainable environment. Soil Science Society of America, Madison, p 244Google Scholar
  8. Dubrovsky NM, Burow KR, Clark GM, Gronberg JAM, Hamilton PA, Hitt KJ, Mueller DK, Munn MD, Nolan BT, Puckett LJ, Rupert MG, Short TM, Spahr NE, Sprague LA, Wilber WG (2010) The quality of our nation’s waters – nutrients in the nation’s streams and groundwater, 1992–2004. U. S. Geological Survey Circular 1350Google Scholar
  9. Franzluebbers AJ (2010) Achieving soil organic carbon sequestration with conservation agricultural systems in the Southeastern United States. Soil Sci Soc Am J 74:347–357. doi: 10.2136/sssaj2009.0079 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Godfray HCJ, Beddington JR, Crute IR, Haddad L, Lawrence D, Muir JF, Pretty J, Robinson S, Thomas SM, Toulmin C (2010) Food security: the challenge of feeding 9 billion people. Science 327:812–818. doi: 10.1126/science.1185383 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gregorich EG, Carter MR, Angers DA, Monreal CM, Ellert BH (1994) Towards a minimum data set to assess soil organic matter quality in agricultural soils. Can J Soil Sci 74:367–385. doi: 10.4141/cjss94-051 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hatfield J, Boote K, Fay P, Hahn L, Izaurralde C, Kimball BA, Mader T, Morgan J, Ort D, Polley W, Thomson A, Wolfe D (2008) Agriculture. In: Backlund P, Janetos A, Schimel D, Hatfield J, Boote K, Fay P, Hahn L, Izaurralde C, Kimball BA, Mader T, Morgan J, Ort D, Polley W, Thomson A, Wolfe D, Ryan MG, Archer SR, Birdsey R, Dahm C, Heath L, Hicke J, Hollinger D, Huxman T, Okin G, Oren R, Randerson J, Schlesinger W, Lettenmaier D, Major D, Poff L, Running S, Hansen L, Inouye D, Kelly BP, Meyerson L, Peterson B, Shaw R (eds) The effects of climate change on agriculture, land resources, water resources, and biodiversity in the United States. Synthesis and assessment product 4.3. U.S Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC, pp 21–74Google Scholar
  13. Jelinski NA, Kucharik CJ (2009) Land-use effects on soil carbon and nitrogen on a U.S. Midwestern floodplain. Soil Sci Soc Am J 73:217–225. doi: 10.2136/sssaj2007.0424 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Johnson JMF, Archer DW, Weyers SL, Barbour NW (2011) Do mitigation strategies reduce global warming potential in the northern U.S. Corn Belt? J Environ Qual 40:1551–1559. doi: 10.2134/jeq2011.0105 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Karl TR, Melillo JM, Peterson TC (eds) (2009) Global climate change impacts in the United States. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. Karlen DL, Stott DE, Cambardella CA, Kremer RJ, King KW, McCarty GW (2014) Surface soil quality in five Midwestern cropland conservation effects assessment project watersheds. J Soil Water Conserv 69:393–401. doi: 10.2489/jswc.69.5.393 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lal R (2009) Soils and food sufficiency. A review. Agron Sustain Dev 29:113–133. doi: 10.1051/agro:2008044 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Larson WE, Pierce FJ (1994) The dynamics of soil quality as a measure of sustainable management. In: Doran JW, Coleman DC, Bezdicek DF, Stewart BA (eds) Defining soil quality for a sustainable environment, SSSA Special Publ. No. 35. Soil Science Society of America, Madison, pp 37–51Google Scholar
  19. Lehman RM, Cambardella CA, Stott DE, Acosta-Martinez V, Manter DK, Buyer JS, Maul JE, Smith JL, Collins HP, Halvorson JJ, Kremer RJ, Lundgren JG, Ducey TF, Jin VL, Karlen DL (2015) Understanding and enhancing soil biological health: the solution for reversing soil degradation. Sustainability 7:988–1027. doi: 10.3390/su7010988 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Magdoff F, van Es H (2009) Building soils for better crops. Sustainable Agriculture Publications, BurlingtonGoogle Scholar
  21. Moebius-Clune BN, Moebius-Clune DJ, Gugino BK, Idowu OJ, Schindelbeck RR, van Es HM, Thies JE, Shayler HA, McBride MB, Wolfe DW, Abawi GS (2015) Comprehensive assessment of soil health – the Cornell framework manual, edition 3.0. Cornell University, Geneva, in preparation, http://soilhealth.cals.cornell.edu/ Google Scholar
  22. NASA (2016) Scientific consensus: earth’s climate is warming. Climate change: vital signs of the planet. Available at: http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus. Accessed 24 Apr 2016
  23. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (2016) Summary information|National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). Available at: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/summary-info/global/201510. Accessed 24 Apr 2016
  24. National Agricultural Statistics Service (2014) 2012 census of agriculture. USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  25. Pellant M, Shaver P, Pyke DA, Herrick JE (2005) Interpreting indicators of rangeland health, version 4, Technical Reference 1734–6. U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, National Science and Technology Center, DenverGoogle Scholar
  26. Stott DE, Kennedy AC, Cambardella CA (1999) Impact of soil organisms and organic matter on soil structure. In: Lal R (ed) Soil quality and soil erosion. CRC Press/Soil and Water Conservation Society, Boca Raton/Ankeny, pp 57–74Google Scholar
  27. Stott DE, Andrews SS, Liebig MA, Wienhold BJ, Karlen DL (2010) Evaluation of β-glucosidase activity as a soil quality indicator for the Soil Management Assessment Framework (SMAF). Soil Sci Soc Am J 74:107–119. doi: 10.2136/sssaj2009.0029 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. U.S. Department of Agriculture (2015) Summary report: 2012 national resources inventory. Natural Resources Conservation Service/Center for Survey Statistics and Methodology, Iowa State University, Washington, DC/Ames. Available at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/technical/nra/nri/. Accessed 11 Oct 2016
  29. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (2012) Soil health: unlock the secrets of the soil. Available at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/soils/health/. Accessed 24 Apr 2016
  30. Veum KS, Kremer RJ, Sudduth KA, Kitchen NR, Lerch RN, Baffaut C, Stott DE, Karlen DL, Sadler EJ (2015) Conservation effects on soil quality indicators in the Missouri Salt River Basin. J Soil Water Conserv 70:232–246. doi: 10.2489/jswc.70.4.232 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Wienhold BJ, Karlen DL, Andrews SS, Stott DE (2009) Protocol for Soil Management Assessment Framework (SMAF) soil indicator scoring curve development. Renew Agric Food Syst 24:260–266. doi: 10.1017/S1742170509990093 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland (outside the USA) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.USDA-NRCS Soil Health DivisionWest LafayetteUSA
  2. 2.USDA-NRCS Soil Health DivisionWashington, DCUSA

Personalised recommendations