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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Laboratory for Agriculture and The Environment » Soil, Water & Air Resources Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #355900

Research Project: Managing Carbon and Nutrients in Midwestern U.S. Agroecosystems for Enhanced Soil Health and Environmental Quality

Location: Soil, Water & Air Resources Research

Title: Soil health assessments: How and why?

item Karlen, Douglas
item OBRYCKI, JOHN - Orise Fellow

Submitted to: Crops and Soils
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/27/2018
Publication Date: 3/21/2019
Citation: Karlen, D.L., Obrycki, J.F. 2019. Soil health assessments: How and why?. Crops and Soils. 52(2):22-57.

Interpretive Summary: Soil health has become a well-recognized term in scientific and popular-press writings within the past five years with soil organic matter being identified as an important assessment indicator. This invited popular press article was requested following publication of an on-farm study that evaluated whether or not management practices are increasing soil organic matter. This study highlights the on-farm research method and provides farmers, crop consultants, conservationists and researchers information regarding management of soil organic matter within central Iowa soils.

Technical Abstract: This popular press article is based on research published in the Agronomy Journal [Volume 110, pages 1-18 (2018); (doi:10.2134/agronj2018.02.0113)]. It highlights an on-farm soil health assessment on a central Iowa USA farm. Using available farm management records (crop rotation and manure application) a sampling strategy that represented the predominant soil map units and provided soil for the analysis of biological, chemical, and physical indicators of soil health. Results showed that: (1) inherent soil properties must be considered in soil health assessments, (2) rotation-based systems can increase soil organic carbon (SOC), and (3) rotation effects were greater than manure effects.