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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Watershed-Scale Assessment of Soil Biochemical Properties: a Prelude to Soil Quality

Authors
item CAMBARDELLA, CYNTHIA
item MOORMAN, THOMAS
item KARLEN, DOUGLAS

Submitted to: Agronomy Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: November 8, 1996
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Soil quality (SQ) is an important endpoint for measuring the effectiveness of alternative farming systems. Watershed scale studies integrate effects of landscape-scale processes and allow comparisons to be made at the production scale. Our objective was to describe the watershed-scale spatial pattern of proposed SQ indicator variables after long-term conventional- (CT) and ridge-till (RT) management of continuous corn. The data will serve as a basis of comparison for changes in SQ anticipated after adoption of no-till, rotational farming practices. Soil data was collected from each of 3 small watersheds in SW Iowa after harvest in 1994 and 1995. Four linear transects per watershed were delineated in order to capture watershed-scale spatial pattern. Individual transects encompassed summit, midslope and toeslope landscape positions. Taking the position that "more-is-better", SQ was higher for RT than CT and generally highest for toeslope and lowest for midslope positions. The 2 CT watersheds were adjacent to one another and managed similarly, yet SQ analysis suggests that one had higher SQ than the other in 1994/95. Farming practices were changed in 1996 and SQ assessments are continuing. The information will eventually be used for development of watershed-scale indices of SQ.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014