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Soil Quality and Conservation Planning

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Title: Soil Quality and Conservation Planning


1
Soil Quality and Conservation Planning
  • Lesson 6

2
Objectives
  • Be able to point out the importance of soil
    quality to NRCS activities and programs.

3
Importance of Soil Quality to NRCS Activities
  • Integrate Soil Quality into the planning process
  • 9 steps of Conservation Planning
  • Refer to Guidelines for Soil Quality Assessment
    in Conservation Planning

4
Soil Quality and the Nine Steps of Conservation
Planning
  • Step 1 - Identify Problems Opportunities
  • Identify resource problems, opportunities, and
    concerns.
  • Determine which might be a result of a reduction
    in soil function.

5
Soil Quality and the Nine Steps of Conservation
Planning
  • Step 2 - Determine Objectives
  • Discuss Soil Quality improvements and
    maintenance as goals to be achieved in a
    Conservation Plan.

6
Soil Quality and the Nine Steps of Conservation
Planning
  • Step 3 - Inventory Resources
  • Perform a Soil Quality Assessment
  • Dig a Hole
  • Soil Quality Scorecard
  • Soil Quality Test Kit
  • General observation

7
Soil Quality and the Nine Steps of Conservation
Planning
  • Step 4 - Analyze Resource Data
  • Evaluate Soil Quality Assessment Data
  • Look for Patterns resulting from management
  • Compare Results from different assessment methods
  • Evaluate Discrepancies between soil and plant
    observations
  • Establish Baseline and Target Values

8
Soil Quality and the Nine Steps of Conservation
Planning
  • Step 5 - Formulate Alternatives
  • Suggest Management Solutions to Soil Quality
    Problems
  • Explore possible management reasons for
    identified Soil Quality problems.
  • Discuss practices or changes in management that
    would address identified Soil Quality problems.

9
Soil Quality and the Nine Steps of Conservation
Planning
  • Step 6 - Evaluate Alternatives using tools
  • Assessment tools
  • soil quality test kit
  • health card
  • farmer observations
  • RUSLE or Wind Erosion
  • Soil Conditioning Index (SCI)
  • Others

10
Soil Quality and the Nine Steps of Conservation
Planning
  • Step 7 - Make decision
  • Farmer makes decision
  • Planner schedules implementation

11
Soil Quality and the Nine Steps of Conservation
Planning
  • Step 8 - Implement plan
  • Planner provides technical assistance to
    implement plan
  • Planner available during implementation

12
Soil Quality and the Nine Steps of Conservation
Planning
  • Step 9 - Follow-up
  • Monitor progress (farmer can self assess, soil
    test on certain systems, e.g., organic matter,
    and/or modeling assistance from NRCS or crop
    consultant)
  • many properties show improvement in 5-10 years
  • Planner available for modifications of plan

13
Selecting Indicators of Soil Quality
14
Solutions To Problems

-from Guidelines for Soil Quality Assessment
in Conservation Planning)
15
Soil Quality in NRCS Practice Standards
  • Resource concerns in FOTG
  • Worded as components or indicators of soil
    quality
  • Purpose
  • Criteria

16
Residue Management, No Till/Strip TillCode 329A
  • Purposes
  • Reduce sheet and rill erosion
  • Reduce wind erosion
  • Reduce emissions of particulates and gases to
    improve air quality (draft)
  • Maintain or improve organic matter
  • Conserve soil moisture

17
Residue Management, No Till/Strip TillCode 329A
  • Purposes
  • Manage snow to increase plant available moisture
    or reduce plant damage from freezing or
    desiccation.
  • Provide food and escape cover for wildlife

18
Residue Management, No Till/Strip TillCode 329A
Criteria e.g.
  • Criteria to maintain or improve SOM
  • Use SCI for residue needed
  • Limit residue removal
  • Calculation should account for other practices in
    management system
  • Continuous use of the practice is needed for
    sequestering carbon

19
Importance of Soil Quality to NRCS Programs
  • As a part of programs
  • Soil survey
  • CRP
  • EQIP
  • WRP
  • Buffer Initiative
  • CSP

20
Soil Survey
  • Currently, soil surveys contain inherent soil
    quality information.
  • Addition of dynamic soil quality information to
    soil surveys is currently underdevelopment.
  • Record in soil databases (NASIS)

21
Soil Survey
  • Advantages of dynamic SQ properties
  • Greater flexibility in interpretations.
  • Improved derivative property information.
  • Greater utility at the field level.
  • Greater utility at the regional and national
    level for use in modeling.

22
Interpretation Flexibility
Soil Uses
No-till Cropland (1)
Tilled Cropland (3)
Forest (2)
Pasture (4)
1, 2, 3, or 4
Dynamic Properties (Use-dependent)
Composite record
Inherent Properties (Use-invariant)
Grossman et al. (2000)
23
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)
  • Purpose
  • Convert highly erodible land (HEL) to permanent
    cover (10 year contracts)
  • Benefits
  • reduces soil erosion
  • enhances soil quality
  • improves wildlife habitat
  • protects surface and ground water quality

24
CRP Enhances Soil Quality
  • Soil quality improvements include
  • higher organic matter (quality quantity)
  • better aggregation
  • increased pore space
  • soil structure improvements
  • enhanced biological activity

25
Documented Effects of CRP
  • CRP land gained 1.1 tons of carbon ha-1 yr-1
  • Soil quality improvements after 4 -7 years of CRP
  • CRP after wheat-fallow
  • Positive soil quality effect
  • fragile lands into CRP
  • Soil C N improvements after 6 years of CRP
  • Gebhart et al. (1994)
  • Staben et al. (1997)
  • Karlen et al. (1998)
  • Robels and Burke (1998)

26
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
  • EQIP can provide funding for a conservation plan
    with practices such as no-till that improve soil
    quality.

27
Restoration of soil quality in forested areas
using EQIP
28
Wetland ReserveProgram(WRP)
  • Restores wetlands on private lands, thus
    restoring soil functions of wetlands
  • Regulating water flow
  • retards flooding
  • Filtering and buffering

29
Biodiversity is improved or maintained in the WRP
30
Conservation Buffer Initiative
  • Purpose
  • To encourage use of conservation buffers to
  • enhance soil quality
  • prevent water pollution
  • prevent soil erosion
  • increase wildlife habitat
  • enhance landscape diversity

31
Lack of Bio-diversity, loss of organic matter and
structure, with loss of habitat for soil microbes
Erosion/Lack of Ground Cover
32
Increased bio-diversity, retention of organic
matter, erosion controlled, development of
structure, and surface covered to retain moisture
and moderate soil microbe habitat
33
Conservation Security Program
  • Purpose
  • To support on-going stewardship on private
    agricultural lands by providing payments for
    maintaining and enhancing natural resources
  • Addresses soil quality and water quality as
    minimum requirements for program eligibility

34
Conservation Security Program
  • Screening and Assessment
  • Soil quality is part of the screening process
  • Do you grow high residue crops at least 1 in 3
    years in rotation, use a cover crop annually, or
    have hay/pasture in rotation?
  • Soil Tillage Intensity Rating (STIR)

35
Soil Quality-Related Assessment Tools
  • Approved Erosion Technology
  • Soil Conditioning Index
  • Soil Quality Test Kit
  • Soil Management Assessment Framework

36
Approved Erosion Prediction Technology
  • Any degree of water and wind erosion will limit
    soil quality improvements.

37
The Soil Conditioning Index
  • Expresses organic matter trends as a primary
    indicator of soil condition
  • Enables the land manager to Move beyond
    T, manage for C
  • Now Part of RUSLE2

38
The Soil Quality Test Kit
  • Very useful as an educational tool
  • Can be used to
  • monitor trends
  • compare practice alternatives
  • assess trouble spots

39
Soil Management Assessment Framework (a.k.a. SQ
Index)
  • Tool to assess the relative effects of management
    on soil function
  • Based on indicator measurement
  • Part of USDA-ARS Soils National Program
  • Applications for Test Kit interpretations, SWAPA
    Quality Criteria, performance measures, CEAP, and
    CSP

40
Soil Quality Framework
(Andrews et al., 2002)
41
2. Site-Specific Interpretation
GA Ultisols IA
Mollisols
42
SMAF Outcomesusing 1996 NRI dataCropped
Xerolls in MLRA 9
SQI value
- Andrews et al., 2004
43
Assignment
  • Review
  • Group presentations
  • Discussion

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