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Title: Can the soil conditioning index predict soil organic carbon sequestration with conservation agricultural systems in the South?

item Franzluebbers, Alan
item Causarano, H - Universidad Nacional De Asuncion
item Norfleet, M - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS, USDA)

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/21/2009
Publication Date: 7/21/2009
Publication URL:
Citation: Franzluebbers, A.J., Causarano, H.J., Norfleet, M.L. 2009. Can the soil conditioning index predict soil organic carbon sequestration with conservation agricultural systems in the South?. Proceedings of the 31st Southern Agricultural Systems Conference, July 20-23, 2009, Exmore, Virginia. On-Line.

Interpretive Summary: Rapid and reliable assessments of the potential of various agricultural management systems to sequester soil organic carbon are needed to promote conservation and help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. A collaborative effort to investigate the validity of the soil conditioning index for prediction of soil organic carbon sequestration was developed among scientists with ARS in Watkinsville GA, a former ARS research associate in Beltsville MD (now at the National University in Asuncion, Paraguay), and with NRCS in Temple TX. Published soil organic C from various studies throughout the southeastern USA were compared with simulations run by the soil conditioning index under the umbrella of the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE2). Within a field study, soil conditioning index was usually highly related to soil organic carbon content. These results will have important implications for farmers, crop advisors, scientists, and policy makers interested in carbon trading schemes throughout the 300 million acres of land in the southeastern USA.

Technical Abstract: The soil conditioning index (SCI) is a relatively simple model used by NRCS to predict changes in soil organic C. It is based on three important conditions: (1) organic material (OM), (2) field operations (FO), and (3) erosion (ER). Our objective was to develop quantitative relationships between (1) published soil organic C data derived from field experiments under various management systems and (2) SCI values predicted from those management systems. Within a field study, SCI was usually highly related to soil organic C content. The SCI appears to reasonably estimate changes in soil organic C with adoption of conservation agricultural systems in the southeastern USA.