Location: Cropping Systems and Water Quality ResearchTitle: Relationships of on-farm soil health scores with corn and soybean yield in the midwestern United States
|CROOKSTON, BRADLEY - Utah State University|
|YOST, MATT - Utah State University|
|BOWMAN, MARIA - Economic Research Serivce (ERS, USDA)|
Submitted to: Soil Science Society of America Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/2/2021
Publication Date: 1/1/2022
Citation: Crookston, B.S., Yost, M.A., Bowman, M.S., Veum, K.S. 2022. Relationships of on-farm soil health scores with corn and soybean yield in the midwestern United States. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 86:91-105. https://doi.org/10.1002/saj2.20355.
Interpretive Summary: Soil health assessment frameworks are used to guide land management decisions, yet few large-scale evaluations of these frameworks have been conducted. This study calculated soil health scores from 96 farms across the Midwestern U.S. using three popular frameworks and assessed relationships between soil health scores and crop yield. Results of this study demonstrated that soil texture information influenced soil health indicator values and scores in the study region. Furthermore, including multiple years of data from the same farms improved the relationships between yield and soil health scores. These results confirm that soil texture is an important factor influencing soil health values and demonstrate that a multi-year commitment is required for soil health monitoring at the farm level. This study benefits producers and land managers by improving our understanding of the relationship between soil health and crop yield.
Technical Abstract: Soil health assessments are interpretive frameworks that estimate a soil’s health by scoring various soil biological, chemical, and physical attributes to guide soil and crop management. Few large-scale analyses of soil health assessment scores exist. Thus, our objectives were to 1) summarize soil health scores at farms across much of the Midwestern U.S., 2) evaluate how individual soil health indicators influence assessment composite scores, 3) assess correlations among composite scores, and 4) determine the strength of significant correlations between soil health assessment scores and crop yield at three spatial and temporal scales: a) individual site-year, b) individual site, and c) all sites and years combined. Soil health and yield data was collected from 96 Soil Health Partnership farmers across nine Midwestern states over a period of two to five years. Soil texture influenced soil health indicator values and scores in the study region. Correlation strength among the Comprehensive Assessment of Soil Health, the Soil Management Assessment Framework, and the Haney Soil Health Tool composite scores were soil texture dependent. Multiple years of data at individual sites improved the correlations between yield and soil health scores compared with individual site-years. These results demonstrate that a multi-year commitment greatly improves soil health monitoring at the site level.