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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Soil Change, Soil Survey, and Natural Resources Decision Making: a Blueprint for Action

Authors
item Tugel, Arlene - NRCS
item Herrick, Jeffrey
item Brown, Joel - NRCS
item Mausbach, M - NRCS
item Puckett, W - NRCS
item Hipple, K - NRCS

Submitted to: Soil Science Society of America Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 28, 2004
Publication Date: May 6, 2005
Citation: Tugel, A.J., Herrick, J.E., Brown, J.R., Mausbach, M.J., Puckett, W., Hipple, K. 2005. Soil change, soil survey, and natural resources decision making: A blueprint for action. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 69:738-747.

Interpretive Summary: Land managers and policymakers need increasingly detailed information about the range of variability in dynamic soil properties and how they might change through time on management time scales. This paper describes a blueprint for the development of an integrated, soil-ecosystem-management information system that incorporates dynamic soil properties such as soil structure and organic matter content. The blueprint integrates six elements: (1) identify user needs, (2) conduct interdisciplinary research and long-term studies, (3) develop and organizing framework that relates data, processes and soil function, (4) select and prioritize soil change data and information requirements, (5) develop procedures for data collection and interpretation, and (6) design an integrated, soil-ecosystem-management information system.

Technical Abstract: Land managers and policymakers need information about soil change caused by anthropogenic and nonanthropogenic factors to predict the effects of management on soil function, compare alternatives, and make decisions. Current knowledge of how soils change is not well synthesized and existing soil surveys include only limited information on the dynamic nature of soils. Providing information about causes and attributes of soil change and the effects of soil change on soil function over the human time scale (centuries, decades or less) should be a primary objective of 21st century soil survey. Soil change is temporal variation in soil across various time scales at a specific location. Attributes of change include state variables (dynamic soil properties), reversibility, drivers, trends, rates, and pathways. Iterative elements of the blueprint for action described in this article are: (1) identify user needs; (2) conduct interdisciplinary research and long-term studies; (3) develop an organizing framework that relates data, processes, and soil function; (4) select and prioritize soil change data and information requirements; (5) develop procedures for data collection and interpretation; and (6) design an integrated soil-ecosystem-management information system. Selection of dynamic soil properties, soil change attributes, and functional interpretations to be included in future soil surveys should be based on analyses comparing the benefits of meeting user needs to the costs of data acquisition and delivery.

Last Modified: 7/30/2014
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