Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Davis, California » Crops Pathology and Genetics Research » Research » Research Project #435039

Research Project: Creating CASH: "California Agricutural Soil Health" Regions

Location: Crops Pathology and Genetics Research

Project Number: 2032-21220-007-19-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2018
End Date: Sep 30, 2020

This scope of work supports a collaborative project among the University of California at Davis, USDA Agricultural Research Service, USDA California Regional Climate Hub, and the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). The objective is to develop a statewide decision support tool that will be designed to disseminate information to growers interested in maintaining and promoting soil health. The information generated by this product will be free and available to anyone with internet access. The benefit to UC Davis, UC Cooperative Extension and USDA-ARS will be to help us achieve our mission to help growers maintain sustainable agroecosystems. The sub-objectives are to 1) create a conceptual model of “soil health identity” across California. This model will reflect regional groupings of soils that share similar suites of soil properties to be used to diagnose soil health; and 2) create a conceptual model of “soil health response” to prescriptive practices. This model will depict the regional trends in limiting conditions (environmental and soil properties) that result in differential response of soil landscapes to management practices.

The overall vision of this work is to develop a tool that will help growers explore effective ways to improve soil's ability to regulate the water supply, sequester carbon, cycle nutrients, resist erosion, promote diverse biological conditions and resist degradation. The tool will help growers evaluate practices such as: what areas and types of crops are likely to maintain long-term benefits from compost; which regions, soils and crops are best suited for cover crops; what types/characteristics of cover crops are best suited for certain soil health goals; and/or what crops require tillage and where will no-till or conservation tillage work best. Answers to these questions will be summarized from the existing literature base and presented by region within an interactive map using an online storyboard format. The decision support tool will focus on perennial tree and vine crops, cole crops and tomatoes. The perennial crops share some soil health promoting management practices, but are different enough in canopy characteristics and harvest techniques that crop based orchard floor management practices are needed. These crops are grown on a wide range of soils having diverse range in characteristics, which in some cases differ dramatically from that of other crops. Cole and tomato crops are valuable annual crops that have a large body of scientific information available that is in need of summary.