Skip to main content
ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Range Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #396620

Research Project: Science and Technologies for the Sustainable Management of Western Rangeland Systems

Location: Range Management Research

Title: Next-generation tools for soil identification, interpretation and soil health monitoring by farmers, ranchers and students

item Herrick, Jeffrey - Jeff
item AUSTIC, GREG - Cornell University
item HAMRICK, LAURA - University Of Colorado
item MANIAK, SABINA - University Of Colorado
item Maynard, Jonathan
item SMITH, BRANDON - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS, USDA)
item WILLS, SKYE - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS, USDA)

Submitted to: Soil Science Society of America Annual Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/12/2022
Publication Date: 10/26/2022
Citation: Herrick, J.E., Austic, G., Hamrick, L., Maniak, S., Maynard, J.J., Peacock, G., Smith, B., Wills, S. 2022. Next-generation tools for soil identification, interpretation and soil health monitoring by farmers, ranchers and students. Soil Science Society of America Annual Meeting. Abstract.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The success of precision agriculture and irrigation have clearly demonstrated the value of soil-specific management. Variability in relatively static soil properties including texture, mineralogy and depth directly affect crop yields, and water- and nutrient-use efficiency. Static soil properties also indirectly affect yields through their effects on soil erosion and dynamic soil properties including soil organic matter content and nutrient availability. Soil maps include a tremendous amount of information on which relatively static soil properties vary, how much they vary, and often the pattern of variability at field and even sub-field scales. And yet most management, assessment and monitoring tools simply assume the dominant soil in a map unit, and most users of soil information lack the confidence to identify soils, and use soil identification to inform management, and interpret monitoring data. For example, soil health comparisons are often made between two fields where the differences are caused by pre-existing differences in soil texture (e.g. soils with more clay typically accumulate more carbon than sandier soils), rather than or in addition to management. A new, open-source mobile app suite, based on the functions of the current LandPKS app, is currently under development. The app suite will make it easier for non-soil scientists to rapidly access site-specific soil survey information, to determine key soil properties, such as texture and color, to identify soils, and to collect soil and vegetation monitoring data that are directly linked to the soil characterization and identification for interpretation. Current plans are to connect this app suite directly to a new “Digital Coffeeshop” which will allow farmers and ranchers to share their successful management innovations with others with similar soils and climate.