National Program 202: Soil Resource Management
Sustaining soil and society
The mission of the Soil Resource Management National Program is to develop cost-effective soil management practices, technologies, and decision tools that enable producers, advisors, other land managers, and decision makers to enhance food, feed and fiber production while protecting soil, water, and air resources.
The thin layer of soil at the surface of the earth functions as the central resource to sustain life. Soil management is one of the critical factors that control plant production, which in turn supports animal production. Soils also remove impurities to protect water and air quality. A balance needs to be reached between the short-term use of the soil and the long-term sustainability of this critical resource. Protecting, preserving, and enhancing the soil resource are key elements of this National Program.
Although people in agriculture have long recognized the importance of soils, the general public does not view soils as an important resource. Recently, Science magazine (June 11, 2004) identified soil as the "Final Frontier," thus drawing attention to the importance of this resource and to our incomplete knowledge of soil properties, processes, and functions. Considerable research will be needed to further understand soil physical, chemical, and biological properties and processes. This information will allow management practices and systems to be developed and evaluated for their soil, water and air quality benefits. Decision tools need to be developed to predict where management strategies should be used and the environmental benefits that will occur from application of improved practices and systems.
The goal of the Soil Resource Management National Program is to enable sustainable food, feed, and fiber production while protecting the environment. This National Program is part of Goal 5, Protect and Enhance the Nation’s Natural Resource Base and Environment, of the ARS Strategic Plan (http://www.ars.usda.gov/aboutus/docs.htm?docid=1766) and the USDA - Research, Education and Economics (REE) strategic plan (http://www.csrees.usda.gov/ree/strategic_plan.htm). It also contributes to Goal 1 (Enhance Economic Opportunities for Agricultural Producers) and Goal 3 (Enhance Protection and Safety of the Nation’s Agriculture and Food Supply) of these strategic plans.
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