Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Laboratory for Agriculture and The Environment » Soil, Water & Air Resources Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #346190

Title: Assessing the dynamics of the upper soil layer relative to soil management practices

item Hatfield, Jerry
item WACHA, KENNETH - Orise Fellow
item DOLD, CHRISTIAN - Orise Fellow

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/25/2017
Publication Date: 10/25/2017
Citation: Hatfield, J.L., Wacha, K., Dold, C. 2017. Assessing the dynamics of the upper soil layer relative to soil management practices. In: Proceedings of ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting, October 20-26, 2017, Tampa, Florida.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The upper layer of the soil is the critical interface between the soil and the atmosphere and is the most dynamic in response to management practices. One of the soil properties is the stability of the aggregates because this property controls infiltration of water and exchange of gases. An aggregation model has been developed based on the factors that control how aggregates form and the forces that degrade aggregates. One of the major factors for this model is the storage of carbon in the soil and the interaction with the soil biological component. To increase soil biology requires a stable microclimate that provides food, water, shelter, and oxygen which in turn facilitates the incorporation of organic material into forms that can be combined with soil particles to create stable aggregates. The processes that increase aggregate size and stability are directly linked with the continual functioning of the biological component which in turn changes the physical and chemical properties of the soil. Soil aggregates begin to degrade as soon as there is no longer a supply of organic material into the soil. These processes can range from removal of organic material and excessive tillage. To increase aggregation of the upper soil layer requires a continual supply of organic material and the biological activity that incorporates organic material into substances that create a stable aggregate. Soils that exhibit stable soil aggregates at the surface have a prolonged infiltration rate with less runoff and a gas exchange that ensures adequate oxygen for maximum biological activity. Quantifying the dynamics of the soil surface layer provides a quantitative understanding of how management practices affect aggregate stability.