|LORENZ, TODD - University Of Missouri|
|KREMER, ROBERT - Retired ARS Employee|
|SCHMITZ, EUGENE - University Of Missouri|
Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/19/2015
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Recent environmental and ecological awareness has resulted in consideration of soil as more than just a medium for root growth and livestock production. In order to meet the expected growing world population and subsequent food production demands, producers are reevaluating traditional management systems to maintain profitability as well as ecological and social sustainability. Ecosystems that maximize soil organic matter and good soil structure are known to maintain high soil biological functioning, soil health, and plant growth. Soil biological properties that are critical for successful ecosystem functioning and optimum soil health include microbial enzyme activity, microbial abundance, and microbial diversity. Soil microbial diversity may be the most valuable biological component of any ecosystem. Natural ecosystems, such as prairies, are known to exhibit high microbial diversity, providing a greater range of pathways for primary production and ecological processes (e.g., nutrient cycling). These natural ecosystems also serve as valuable references for developing sustainable crop and soil management practices. In addition, reconstruction of native prairie ecosystems is often targeted on sites that have been subjected to long-term intensive cultivation with degraded soil conditions. Soil health assessment tools provide a basis for monitoring changes in soil health during establishment of perennial ecosystems in degraded landscapes, and aid in developing environmentally sustainable management systems. Therefore, assessment of soil health in prairie ecosystems can serve as a guide to restoration of soil biological function, plant productivity, and environmental quality in row crop and animal production systems.