Dynamic soil property reference values and soil resilience: Keys to developing innovative, sustainable solutions for American agriculture?

TitleDynamic soil property reference values and soil resilience: Keys to developing innovative, sustainable solutions for American agriculture?
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsHerrick JE, Bestelmeyer BT, Brown J.
Conference NameGeological Society of America
Date Published10/2008
Conference LocationHouston, TX
ARIS Log Number233974
Keywordsreference, resilience, soil, value
Abstract

Farmers, ranchers, conservationists and other land managers can benefit from four types of soil information when developing new management systems and deciding where to apply currently available systems: (1) values for relatively static soil properties and relationships to plant growth, (2) values for relatively dynamic soil properties that have a significant effect on soil functions such as supporting plant growth, (3) reference values for the potential range of variability for these dynamic soil properties for their soil(s), and (4) information on resistance to degradation and the extent and rate of recovery (resilience) that should be expected in response to a change in management or other perturbation to their soil(s). The first type of information is widely available through existing soil surveys. The second can be easily measured. The third would be generated through the implementation of the strategic plan for integrating dynamic soil properties into the National Cooperative Soil Survey. The value of this dataset would continue to increase with the number and diversity of management systems and/or ecological states included. Increased availability of standardized, quantitative data on the current range of variability for their soil would help farmers define realistic targets, while providing baseline values for innovative land managers to attempt to exceed. This has the potential to extend the benefits of competition beyond yield maximization. The fourth type of information (resilience) would help land managers increase their ability to anticipate and avoid degradation, while targeting limited resources to target opportunities to promote recovery. This paper will illustrate the points above using several short- and long-term datasets.