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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SOIL MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURAL SYSTEMS THAT PREVENT WIND EROSION AND ENHANCE THE ENVIRONMENT

Location: Wind Erosion and Water Conservation Research

Title: Soil Conditioning Index

Authors
item Zobeck, Teddy
item Norfleet, M - USDA-NRCS
item Karlen, Douglas

Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Soil Science
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: September 9, 2009
Publication Date: September 29, 2009
Citation: Zobeck, T.M., Norfleet, M.L., Karlen, D.L. 2009. Soil Conditioning Index. In: Lal, R. Encyclopedia of Soil Science. Second Edition. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis Group. Available: http://www.informaworld.com/10.1081/E-ESS-120044014.

Interpretive Summary: Assessing Soils with the Soil Quality Index. Natural resource assessment tools are often used to evaluate the effects of management on soil properties and processes to ensure the sustainable use of our limited soils resources. The Soil Conditioning Index (SCI) is used to predict the consequences of management actions on the state of soil organic matter, a soil quality indicator. The information needed to determine the SCI includes field location, type of crops grown and yields, tillage and other management information. The SCI is an important soil management index and is required by several USDA-NRCS practice guidelines and is specified for use in the Conservation Security Program of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002. However, the SCI is not a precise index. Research has shown that calculated SCI values may vary about plus or minus 0.2 to 0.3. This variation should be considered when making farm program decisions.

Technical Abstract: Soils are a critical natural resource for the future development and sustainability of humankind. Natural resource assessment tools are often used to evaluate the effects of management on soil properties and processes to ensure the sustainable use of our limited soils resources. The Soil Conditioning Index (SCI) is a soil assessment tool used to predict the consequences of management actions on the state of soil organic matter. The SCI is determined using wind and water erosion models. The information needed to run the models includes field location, type of crops grown and yields, tillage and other management information. Much of the information needed to run the models is available in public data bases. This study suggests that although SCI is correlated with particulate (labile) organic matter and residue returned to the soil, it is not a precise index. Calculated SCI values may vary about plus or minus 0.2 to 0.3. This chapter describes the use, determination, and evaluation of the SCI on agricultural lands in the US.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
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