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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Soil Quality Research in the U.S.A.

Authors
item KARLEN, DOUGLAS
item Andrews, Susan

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: October 1, 2001
Publication Date: October 13, 2001
Citation: KARLEN, D.L., ANDREWS, S.S. SOIL QUALITY RESEARCH IN THE U.S.A. KOREAN SOCIETY OF SOIL SCIENCE AND FERTILIZER CONFERENCE. 2001. P. 39-46.

Technical Abstract: The concept of soil quality developed rapidly throughout the 1990s. Our goals for this presentation are to review the development of the soil quality concept in the USA and to discuss research on soil quality as a tool to evaluate the sustainability of various land management practices. Although the concept was first suggested in 1977 at a conference focused on the tradeoffs associated with intensive agriculture, soil quality per se was not discussed until the late 1980s when it was defined based on soil function (e.g. nutrient cycling; water entry, retention, and release; supporting plant growth and development) and methods to evaluate it were published. After the U.S. National Academy of Science published Soil and Water Quality: An Agenda for Agriculture in 1993, the concept evolved with a holistic focus emphasizing that sustainable soil management required more than soil erosion control. The intended emphasis was on science-based education and assessment, with efforts leading to development of test kits, farmer-based scorecards, visual assessment procedures, fact sheets, video presentations, and frameworks for indexing soil quality at various scales. Worldwide research and technology transfer efforts have increased awareness that soil resources have both inherent characteristics determined by their formation factors and dynamic characteristics influenced by human decisions and management practices. We hope that by improving public awareness about soil resources and helping them understand that these are living bodies that perform ecosystem services through their biological, chemical, and physical properties and processes, people will strive to make more sustainable land use decisions.

Last Modified: 9/29/2014
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