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Research Project: Uncertainty of Future Water Availability Due to Climate Change and Impacts on the Long Term Sustainability and Resilience of Agricultural Lands in the Southern Great Plains

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Title: How does agricultural management for soil health in the southern plains impact a suite of soil health indicators?

item Rottler, Caitlin
item Steiner, Jean
item Brown, David

Submitted to: Soil Science Society of America Annual Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/26/2017
Publication Date: 10/25/2017
Citation: Rottler, C.M., Steiner, J.L., Brown, D.P. 2017. How does agricultural management for soil health in the southern plains impact a suite of soil health indicators? [abstract]. Soil Science Society of America Annual Meeting. Available at:

Interpretive Summary: Abstract only

Technical Abstract: Producers across the Southern Plains are expected to experience a number of impacts on their operations as a result of climate change, including more variable and extreme precipitation events, higher seasonal and annual temperatures, and more prolonged and intense droughts. One possible way of buffering systems against these expected changes is to promote soil health. In the Southern Plains, a number of producers have begun to manage with a specific emphasis on soil health. There is some evidence that soil health management practices (SHMPs) do have a positive effect on soil health, but these effects have not been quantified using a standard method across the Southern Plains, and they have not been compared extensively to sustainably managed traditional systems. Wide variation in soil types along with pronounced temperature and precipitation gradients across the region further complicate and limit the realm of inference of results from any one producer or location. We addressed these shortcomings using a region-wide network of paired SHMP and traditional management sites currently in production. In each pair, we tested soil for a suite of biological, chemical, and physical characteristics associated with soil health, and compared these across the evapotranspiration gradient spanning from Kansas to Texas. Through engagement within the USDA Climate Hubs, Agricultural Research Service, and other federal and non-federal entities, we will make the results of our study available and accessible to various stakeholders in the region. Ultimately, we intend this study to help inform climate change adaptation and mitigation within agricultural sectors in the region.