ECOLOGICALLY-BASED SOIL MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE AND RESOURCE CONSERVATION
Project Number: 3625-12000-012-00
Start Date: Jun 01, 2006
End Date: Sep 30, 2009
1) Assess and monitor the effectiveness of past, present, and future soil resource management practices using the Soil Management Assessment Framework. 2) Develop innovative, ecologically-based crop and soil nutrient management practices for enhanced productivity and negligible off-site agricultural impacts. 3) Conduct field-scale evaluations of selected conservation practices to support the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) and quantify landscape effects on soil water and nutrient availability.
This project utilizes an ecological soil management approach to place a greater emphasis on measuring and understanding the interactions that result from the human decision-making processes regarding soil resources, land use, tillage, crop selection, and other management practices. Our emphasis on the expected and non-expected responses and interactions is important because many of our current soil and crop management decisions are not sustainable as evidenced by erosion, decreased soil organic matter content, contamination of surface and ground water resources, compaction, and/or acidification. The project is designed around three objectives that focus on (1) evaluating and improving two assessment tools, the soil conditioning index (SCI) and the soil management assessment framework (SMAF), (2) developing improved nutrient, tillage, carbon, and crop management practices that will enhance productivity without negative off-site consequences, and (3) evaluating existing and new conservation practices at the field and watershed scale. Use, evaluation, and further improvement in the SMAF as a tool to assess the soil quality effects of soil management practices provides a common thread throughout the entire project. Studies at multiple scales will provide information that can “contribute to the efficiency of agricultural production systems (Strategic Plan Objective 1.2) and "provide science-based knowledge and education to improve quality and management of soil, air, and water resources" (Strategic Plan Objective 5.2). Our primary customers include the NRCS, DOE, conventional and organic producers, fertilizer industry, and scientific community. The project also provides information for three cross-location projects identified in the 202 Action Plan, one Cross-Location Education and Research (CLEAR) project, the inter-Agency Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP).