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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Integrating Soil Processes into Management: from Microaggregates to Macrocatchments

Authors
item Herrick, Jeffrey
item Whitford, Walter

Submitted to: International Rangeland Congress
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: April 1, 1999
Publication Date: July 17, 1999
Citation: HERRICK, J.E., WHITFORD, W.G. INTEGRATING SOIL PROCESSES INTO MANAGEMENT: FROM MICROAGGREGATES TO MACROCATCHMENTS. PROCEEDINGS OF THE VITH INTERNATIONAL RANGELAND CONGRESS. 1999. V. 1. P. 91-95.

Technical Abstract: Most soil processes operate at a sub-millimeter scale, are observed at a centimeter scale and are often managed at a scale of a kilometer or more. These processes frequently vary by several orders of magnitude at all of these scales. Consequently, the scale at which the processes are most easily observed or conveniently affected by management is rarely the scale which is most relevant. Furthermore, key soil processes are nearly impossible to measure directly. These factors explain why traditional agronomic approaches to soil monitoring and management have frequently failed in rangelands. Many of these barriers can be overcome by 1) adopting integrative soil indicators which reflect the function of a range of ecosystem processes, 2) exploiting spatial variability in both monitoring and management, and 3) applying and interpreting these indicators in the context of variability at scales ranging from the microaggregate to macrocatchments. Recent work in the United States, Australia and Europe indicate that aggregation and specific forms of soil carbon, in particular, may serve as effective indicators of a broad range of soil processes. We also describe a multi-scale approach to monitoring which incorporates both qualitative and quantitative indicators to guide long-term rangeland management.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014