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Kristen Sloan Veum

Research Soil Scientist

Kristen Veum

Dr. Veum is a research soil scientist with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service in Columbia, Missouri. Her research is cross-disciplinary and includes soil health assessment for agronomic sustainability and environmental protection. She focuses on cropping systems and the role of land use and management practices on soil health and evaluates soil health indictors for use in farmer assessments. Currently she is leading the development of a new soil health scoring system that provides a framework for interpreting soil health measurements at the continental scale, and she is investigating relationships between soil health indicators and important agronomic and environmental outcomes. Dr. Veum founded the American Society of Agronomy (ASA) Soil Health Community in 2014 and she is the incoming President-Elect of the ASA. Dr. Veum also serves as a scientific advisor for multiple public and private soil health initiatives.  


My research
As a Research Soil Scientist with the ARS, my research is focused on development and evaluation of tools for soil health assessment to help guide on‐farm management decisions. This work includes:

Why I’m doing this research
Developing the science behind the concept of soil health is necessary to increase adoption of conservation management practices for improved environmental outcomes and more sustainable agroecosystems. It is widely recognized that a robust, continental‐scale soil health assessment tool is needed to:

How my research is conducted
This research includes plot‐scale studies to understand how management practices affect soil health and soil function at the local level, as well as large‐scale data aggregation and analysis from across the United States. This allows us to understand how different soil and climate conditions interact with management practices to impact soil health. I worked with a team of collaborators to compile data from across the U.S. to develop the new Soil Health Assessment Protocol and Evaluation (SHAPE) tool — a flexible, robust, and user‐friendly interpretation framework.

Notable findings

Research output
My team of collaborators has created a publicly accessible, user‐friendly R Shiny app interface as well as a GitHub repository for scoring soil health indicator data: