Submitted to: Agronomy Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: October 31, 1997
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Soil quality has been defined as the capacity of a specific kind of soil to function, within natural or managed ecosystem boundaries, to sustain plant and animal productivity, maintain or enhance water and air quality, and support human health and habitation. A protocol for assessing soil quality is being developed to evaluate soil management practices at the watershed scale in two Iowa locations. Indicators of soil quality being used for an assessment index include total soil organic carbon, particulate organic matter, microbial biomass, potential mineralizable N, pH, and aggregate stability. Preliminary results emphasize the importance of various soil organic matter fractions in developing and sustaining healthy soils as a foundation for economically viable and environmentally sustainable agriculture The challenges and opportunities for assessment of watershed health using a soil quality framework will be discussed.