Review of soil quality research and potential for assessing and monitoring soil quality on rangeland

TitleReview of soil quality research and potential for assessing and monitoring soil quality on rangeland
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication1997
AuthorsHerrick JE, Mausbach M.J.
Conference Name50th Annual Meeting, Society for Range Management
Date Published1997
AbstractCurrent interest in developing inter-agency assessment and monitoring programs for U.S. rangelands is paralleled by similar efforts to develop a national system to monitor soil quality. The Soil Science Society of America defines soil quality as "the capacity of a soil to function, within natural or managed ecosystem boundaries, to sustain plant and animal productivity, maintain or enhance water and air quality, and support human health and habitation." The NRCS, ARS, BLM, ERA and a variety of universities, nonprofit and private organizations are currently testing indicators of the capacity of soils to support a broad range of ecosystem functions. Most work on soil quality has focused on annual croplands. The fundamental importance of soil and water conservation and plant productivity to the sustainability of both croplands and rangelands suggests that some indicators should be suitable for both types of ecosystems. Efforts are currently underway to (1) adapt and modify cropland soil quality indicators for use on rangelands, (2) develop additional (especially vegetation-based) indicators which better reflect the unique characteristics of rangeland soil processes, and (3) integrate rangeland and cropland soil quality assessment and monitoring systems to generate a program which can be applied at the national level.