|GHIMIRE, RAJAN - New Mexico State University|
|THAPA, VESH - New Mexico State University|
|SCHIPANSKI, MEAGAN - Colorado State University|
|SHUKLA, MANOJ - New Mexico State University|
|ANGADI, SANGAMESH - New Mexico State University|
|FONTE, STEVE - Colorado State University|
|SLAUGHTER, LINDSEY - Texas Tech University|
Submitted to: Soil Systems
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/27/2023
Publication Date: 3/2/2023
Citation: Ghimire, R., Thapa, V.R., Acosta Martinez, V., Schipanski, M., Shukla, M.K., Angadi, S.V., Fonte, S., Mikha, M.M., Slaughter, L. 2023. Soil health assessment and management framework for water-limited environments: Examples from the Great Plains of the USA. Soil Systems. 7(1). Article e22. https://doi.org/10.3390/soilsystems7010022.
Interpretive Summary: Soil health refers to the capacity of a given soil to sustain productivity, maintain environmental quality, and promote plant and animal health. Soil organic matter (SOM) is the central focus to assess soil health due to its impact on the physical, chemical and biological properties of soils. There is increasing evidence that integrating multiple conservation practices could increase SOM and ultimately increase crop production. However, soils in the arid and semi-arid regions of USA are characterized by low SOM content and low fertility, with limited precipitation and high ambient temperature that affects plant growth. In this publication we reviewed current soil health assessments and highlighted the need to develop a soil health assessment for dry climates. Specifically, we established sensitive indicators to water management practices that could provide valuable information to assess soil health and to identify sustainable management for arid and semi-arid regions.
Technical Abstract: Healthy soils provide the foundation to sustainable agriculture. The soils in water-limited environments, such as arid and semi-arid regions, are often characterized by low soil organic matter (SOM) content, low fertility, and poor vegetation growth. Soil health degradation has been a significant challenge for agricultural sustainability and environmental quality in arid and semi-arid regions. Soil health assessment frameworks developed for more productive, humid, temperate environments that emphasize soil organic matter (SOM) as a key to soil health have not been very effective in identifying best management practices. Building SOM in arid and semi-arid regions is a slow process. This study reviewed existing soil health assessment frameworks, discussed their potential to assess soil health in water-limited environments, and highlighted the need to develop a framework that links soil health with key ecosystem functions in dry climates. It also discussed management strategies for improving soil health, including tillage and residue management, organic amendments, and cropping system diversification and intensification. There is increasing evidence that integrating multiple conservation practices complements each other to increase SOM accrual, improve soil structure, and ultimately increase crop production. Assessment of indicators sensitive to water management practices could provide valuable information in designing soil health assessment and management frameworks for arid and semi-arid regions.