Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES FOR ARID RANGELANDS

Location: Range Management Research

Title: Sustainable soils: Synthesis

Authors
item Herrick, Jeffrey
item Six, Johan -

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: September 21, 2011
Publication Date: August 30, 2012
Citation: Herrick, J.E., Six, J. 2012. Sustainable soils: Synthesis. In: Wall, D.H., Bardgett, R.D., Behan-Pelletier, V., Herrick, J.E., Jones, H., Ritz, K., Six, J., Strong, D.R., van der Putten, W.H., editors. Soil Ecology and Ecosystem Services. Oxford University Press, UK. p. 395-396. Available: http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199575923.do.

Interpretive Summary: The six chapters of the "Sustainable Soils" section of the book "Soil Ecology and Ecoystem Services" support the fundamental role that soil biota play in sustaining soil structure and nutrient cycling as the foundation for nearly all ecosystem services while illustrating the challenges of documenting explicit, consistent relationships. Provisioning services, including crop production, were the focus of the majority of the studies cited in this section and a high proportion of the management system comparisons are limited to conventional tillage against some form of organic or conservation tillage-based system. Despite these inherent limitations of the existing literature, a number of lessons can be drawn. Five that are particularly significant were each cited in at least two of the chapters: (1) the importance of spatial and temporal context for interpreting soil biota-sustainability relationships, (2) the importance of systematic approaches, common methods, and protocols to study soil biota – sustainability relationships, (3) the value of long-term studies for identifying and validating functional relationships, particularly where chronic, cumulative and acute disturbances are involved, (4) the potential value of local knowledge for identifying, documenting and monitoring these relationships, and (5) the extent to which hysteresis must be considered to understand and predict the potential contribution of soil biota to resilience and restoration.

Technical Abstract: The six chapters of the "Sustainable Soils" section of the book "Soil Ecology and Ecoystem Services" support the fundamental role that soil biota play in sustaining soil structure and nutrient cycling as the foundation for nearly all ecosystem services while illustrating the challenges of documenting explicit, consistent relationships. Provisioning services, including crop production, were the focus of the majority of the studies cited in this section and a high proportion of the management system comparisons are limited to conventional tillage against some form of organic or conservation tillage-based system. Despite these inherent limitations of the existing literature, a number of lessons can be drawn. Five that are particularly significant were each cited in at least two of the chapters: (1) the importance of spatial and temporal context for interpreting soil biota-sustainability relationships, (2) the importance of systematic approaches, common methods, and protocols to study soil biota – sustainability relationships, (3) the value of long-term studies for identifying and validating functional relationships, particularly where chronic, cumulative and acute disturbances are involved, (4) the potential value of local knowledge for identifying, documenting and monitoring these relationships, and (5) the extent to which hysteresis must be considered to understand and predict the potential contribution of soil biota to resilience and restoration.

Last Modified: 4/21/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page