Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Pendleton, Oregon » Columbia Plateau Conservation Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #114563

Title: BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN EDUCATION AND RESEARCH THROUGH SOIL QUALITY TESTING

Author
item Wilkins, Dale
item HEIDEMAN, ERIN

Submitted to: Columbia Basin Agricultural Research Annual Report
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/1/2000
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Tillage systems used in the dryland-farming region of the Pacific Northwest have degraded the soils. Natural Resource Conservation Service and Agricultural Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture and have developed a soil quality test kit. This test kit provides the equipment and instructions for evaluating soil quality characteristics including soil respiration, water infiltration, bulk density, electric conductivity (EC), soil pH, aggregate stability, soil slaking, earthworms and water salinity and nitrate/nitrite levels. This kit was used to evaluate the soil quality in six long-term experiments at the Pendleton Agricultural Research Center and to provide a basis for developing secondary school work samples (curriculum units). The kit and instructions were found to be complete and easy to use for people not trained in the art and science of soil measurements. EC, bulk density and pH test gave meaningful data with three to four replications. Results indicated pH has degraded but EC and bulk density are not a problem in the intensive tillage and fallow rotations used in the Columbia Plateau. Aggregate stability and infiltration, know problem characteristics with conventional farming systems, test kit methods need to be modified and/or clarified to provide meaningful results for silt loam soils in the Columbia Plateau. The soil quality test kit can be extremely useful as an instructional tool in secondary schools to study soil processes.

Technical Abstract: Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) have developed a soil quality test kit. This test kit provides the equipment and instructions for evaluating soil respiration, water infiltration, bulk density, electric conductivity (EC), soil pH, aggregate stability, soil slaking, earthworms and water salinity and nitrate/nitrite levels. This kit was used to evaluate the soil quality in six long-term experiments at the Pendleton Agricultural Research Center and to provide a basis for developing secondary school work samples (curriculum units). The kit and instructions were found to be complete and easy to use for people not trained in the art and science of soil measurements. EC, bulk density and pH test gave meaningful data with three to four replications. Aggregate stability and infiltration measurements need to be modified to provide meaningful results for silt loam soils in the Columbia Plateau. The soil quality test kit can be extremely useful as an instructional tool in secondary schools to study soil processes and concepts. Eight work samples were designed for use in secondary schools.