Soil change, soil survey, and natural resources decision making: A blueprint for action

TitleSoil change, soil survey, and natural resources decision making: A blueprint for action
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsTugel A.J., Herrick JE, Brown J., Mausbach M.J., Puckett W., Hipple K.
JournalSoil Science Society of America Journal
Date PublishedMay 6, 2005
Accession NumberJRN00430
ARIS Log Number167841
Keywordsdecision making, natural resources, soil change, soil survey

Land managers and policymakers need information about soil change caused by anthropogenic and non-anthropogenic factors to predict the effects of management on soil function, compare alternatives, and make decisions. Current knowledge of how soils change is not well synthesized and existing soil surveys include only limited information on the dynamic nature of soils. Providing information about causes and attributes of soil change and the effects of soil change on soil function over the human time scale (centuries, decades, or less) should be a primary objective of 21st century soil survey. Soil change is temporal variation in soil across various time scales at a specific location. Attributes of change include state variables (dynamic soil properties), reversibility, drivers, trends, rates, and pathways and functional interpretations include resistance, resilience, and early warning indicators. Iterative elements of the blueprint for action described in this article are: (i) identify user needs; (ii) conduct interdisciplinary research and long-term studies; (iii) develop an organizing framework that relates data, processes, and soil function; (iv) select and prioritize soil change data and information requirements; (v) develop procedures for data collection and interpretation; and (vi) design an integrated soil-ecosystem-management information system. Selection of dynamic soil properties, soil change attributes, and functional interpretations to be included in future soil surveys should be based on analyses comparing the benefits of meeting user needs to the costs of data acquisition and delivery. Implementation of the blueprint requires increased collaboration among National Cooperative Soil Survey partners and other research disciplines.