Submitted to: Soil Science Society of America Annual Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/9/2000
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Soil quality (SQ) assessment tools may facilitate decisions that promote sustainable agricultural practices. To examine the usefulness of SQ Tools in the Central Valley, we conducted focus groups with area producers and crop advisors. We presented focus groups with soil quality indicator data from on-farm comparisons of organic amendments. We used several formats, such as radar graphs of indicator results and integrated SQ Indices using scores based on soil function. Participants discussed with format was most useful for decision-making. We also asked the subset of farmers whose farms were used in the field trials to compare their perceptions of SQ to the analytical assessments. All participants were asked to discuss what groups of people should be targeted to use these tools, how they would most likely use the tools, and what information would be needed for them to change a management practice (or recommendation). Pilot survey results showed that producers favored SQ tool use by both producers and advisors, while farm advisors felt that they should be the primary users of SQ tools. Results from four focus groups will be discussed. Tailoring assessment tools, such as SQ indices, to meet the needs of target users should improve their acceptance and applicability and, in turn, encourage the use of sustainable management practices.