Locally led conservation activities: Developing a soil quality assessment tool

TitleLocally led conservation activities: Developing a soil quality assessment tool
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsTugel A.J., Seiter S., Friedman D., Davis J., Dick R.P., McGrath D., Weil R.R.
EditorStott E.E., Mohtar R.H., Steinhardt G.C.
Conference Name10th International Soil Conservation Organization Meeting: Sustaining the Global Farm
Date PublishedMay 24-29, 1999
Conference LocationPurdue University and the USDA-ARS National Soil Erosion Research Laboratory
ARIS Log Number142845
Keywordsindicators, management systems, soil assessment procedure, Soil Quality Card Design Guide
AbstractFarmers base many management decisions on a variety of personal observations of their crops and soils. However, there was no soil assessment procedure applicable to farms across the country to help farmers record these observations and to use them to guide their future management decisions. To address this need, the Soil Quality Institute of the USDA-NRCS, university research and USDA-CES partners in Oregon and Maryland developed the Soil Quality Card Design Guide. Using the guide, facilitators followed a nine-step meeting procedure to help farmers identify locally important soil quality indicators, develop descriptive terms for soil quality assessments, and design the format of their soil quality card. Seven cards were developed by local groups of farmers during the period 1997 to early 1999. The farmer meeting provides an opportunity for USDA-NRCS, USDA-CES, conservation districts, producers and others to jointly create soil quality cards for farmers in each unique cropping region of the country. The collaborative process used to create the cards offers locally led conservation opportunities for dialogue and idea sharing, thus blending the scientific knowledge of conservationists and soil scientists with the common-sense experience of producers. Farmers can use soil quality cards to assess changes in soil quality resulting from different management systems and to track changes from year to year. Agricultural professionals, educators, students and others with an interest in soil quality and the impact of management practices on soil can use the cards to enhance communication and learning.