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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Columbia, Missouri » Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research » Research » Research Project #444504

Research Project: Regional Soil Health Testing for SHAPE Tool

Location: Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research

Project Number: 5070-21600-001-008-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2023
End Date: Aug 31, 2028

The NRCS Soil Health Division seeks to develop a comprehensive dataset of soil health test results correlated with agroecological management systems in order to expand and refine a national-scale soil health assessment tool, the Soil Health Assessment Protocol and Evaluation (SHAPE). This project will enable NRCS to provide producers with regionally-relevant and management/soil system relevant soil health assessment scores and interpretations using SHAPE. This project will enhance conservation technical recommendations and assistance to producers and build interpretation tools to determine effective, climate-smart strategies for agricultural production systems and healthy soil/agroecological systems.

Approximately 20 participants will be selected by the ARS PI, in collaboration with NRCS, from across the U.S., prioritizing regional distribution of soil sample collection to improve representation of diverse soil, climate, and agricultural production systems. An estimated 6,300 soil samples will be collected from across the U.S. Selected recipients will collect and upload the required farm/ranch management and soil data, including location geocoordinates, to an NRCS-provided data system, and submit soil samples to the ARS PI for laboratory analysis of predefined soil properties. Soil health test data (Table 1) will be returned to each participant for the samples they collected. Funding will be provided to each participant through subawards for soil sampling equipment, travel, labor, and data collection devices associated with soil sample collection. Sample analysis will be subcontracted to a laboratory with a demonstrated ability to provide the specified methods and protocols. The soil health test data will augment the existing SHAPE dataset and updated scoring curves will be generated by the ARS PI for the selected soil health measurements. Updated executable SHAPE files will be delivered to NRCS.