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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SOIL MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS FOR DRYLAND AND IRRIGATED CROPPING SYSTEMS

Location: Agroecosystem Management Research

Title: Recent advances in soil quality assessment in the United States

Authors
item Wienhold, Brian
item Andrews, Susan - USDA-NRCS
item Kuykendall, Holli - USDA-NRCS
item Karlen, Douglas

Submitted to: Journal of Indian Society of Soil Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 28, 2008
Publication Date: December 1, 2008
Repository URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10113/44288
Citation: Wienhold, B.J., Andrews, S.S., Kuykendall, H., Karlen, D.L. 2008. Recent advances in soil quality assessment in the United States. Journal of Indian Society of Soil Science. 56(3):237-246. Available: indianjournals.com/ijor.aspx?target=ijor:jisss&type=home

Interpretive Summary: Soil quality is a concept being utilized to improve soil management. Efforts to improve soil management include educational programs to make land managers aware of critical functions performed by soils and the effect management practices have on these functions and development of soil management assessment tools. This paper provides an update on recent activity to implement and improve the Soil Management Assessment Framework (SMAF). The SMAF has been expanded to include scoring curves for additional soil indicators and a web based version of the framework is now available. The SMAF has been compared to other assessment tools and found to give similar results while requiring less input from the user and having greater flexibility for indicator selection. The SMAF has been used to identify soil quality risks at the watershed scale as part of the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP). Future plans include using the SMAF for model output, in spatially variable fields, and adapting the SMAF for use by soil testing laboratories.

Technical Abstract: Soil quality is a concept that is useful as an educational and assessment tool. A number of assessment tools have been developed including: the Soil Conditioning Index (SCI), the Soil Management Assessment Framework (SMAF), the AgroEcosystem Performance Assessment Tool (AEPAT), and the new Cornell “Soil Health Assessment”. The SMAF and AEPAT were developed as malleable tools for assessing soil response to management. The Cornell Assessment builds on the SMAF approach to score laboratory tests in terms of soil function. This paper updates efforts to improve availability and utility, implementation, and future research goals associated with the SMAF. Additional scoring curves have been developed for percentage water-filled pore space (%WFPS), soil test potassium (K), and ß-glucosidase activity. A web-based version of the SMAF is available. The SMAF has been implemented as part of the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP). Combining the SMAF and a CEAP survey approach appears to be a successful method for identifying soil quality risks at the watershed scale. Future plans include developing approaches for using the SMAF for model output and in spatially variable fields as well as adapting the SMAF for wide use by soil testing laboratories.

Last Modified: 8/22/2014
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