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ARS Home » Plains Area » Temple, Texas » Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #347070

Research Project: Resilient Management Systems and Decision Support Tools to Optimize Agricultural Production and Watershed Responses from Field to National Scale

Location: Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory

Title: Environmental indicator principium with case references to agricultural soil, water, and air quality and model-derived indicators

Author
item Zhang, T - Agriculture And Agri-Food Canada
item Zheng, Z - Agriculture And Agri-Food Canada
item Lal, R - The Ohio State University
item Lin, Z - Southern Illinois University
item Sharpley, A - University Of Arkansas
item Shober, A - University Of Delaware
item Smith, Douglas
item Tan, C - Agriculture And Agri-Food Canada
item Van Cappellen, P - University Of Waterloo

Submitted to: Journal of Environmental Quality
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/18/2017
Publication Date: 3/8/2018
Citation: Zhang, T.Q., Zheng, Z.M., Lal, R., Lin, Z.Q., Sharpley, A.N., Shober, A.L., Smith, D.R., Tan, C.S., Van Cappellen, P. 2018. Environmental indicator principium with case references to agricultural soil, water, and air quality and model-derived indicators. Journal of Environmental Quality. 47(2):191-202. https://doi.org/10.2134/jeq2017.10.0398.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.2134/jeq2017.10.0398

Interpretive Summary: Environmental indicators are powerful tools for tracking environmental changes, measuring environmental performance, and informing policy makers. Many diverse environmental indicators are currently in use or in development. This paper provides an overview of environmental indicators, primarily focusing on agricultural environmental indicators, with case studies related to the quality of the agricultural soil-water-air continuum and application of model-derived indicators. Current knowledge gaps and future lines of investigation are also discussed. It appears that environmental indicators work efficiently at many scales, including field, catchment, and local scales. They also serve as valuable metrics of system functioning and response; however, environmental indicators need to be refined or further developed to comprehensively meet community demands and expectations in terms of providing a consistent representation of relevant environmental issues or allowing national or international comparability.

Technical Abstract: Environmental indicators are powerful tools for tracking environmental changes, measuring environmental performance, and informing policy makers. With the ubiquitous nature of environmental assets and within the broad themes of environmental disciplines, many diverse environmental indicators, including agricultural environmental indicators, are currently in use or in development. This special collection of technical papers expands upon the peer-reviewed literature on environmental indicators and their application to current important environmental issues in the following areas: 1) model-derived environmental indicators to indicate phosphorus losses from arable land to surface runoff and subsurface drainage; 2) glutathione-ascorbate cycle-related antioxidants as early warning bioindicators of polybrominated diphenyl ether toxicity in mangroves; and 3) assessment of the effectiveness of organic matrix biobeds in limiting herbicide dissipation from agricultural fields and thereby controlling on-farm point-source pollution. Beyond providing a summary of technical papers included within this special collection, this paper provides an overview of environmental indicators, primarily focusing on agricultural environmental indicators, with case studies related to the quality of the agricultural soil-water-air continuum and application of model-derived indicators. Current knowledge gaps and future lines of investigation are also discussed. It appears that environmental indicators work efficiently at the field, catchment, and local scale and serve as valuable metrics of system functioning and response; however, environmental indicators need to be refined or further developed to comprehensively meet community demands and expectations in terms of providing a consistent representation of relevant environmental issues or allowing national or international comparability.