See more from this Session: Dynamic Teaching Materials Demonstrations
Monday, October 17, 2011: 3:30 PM
Henry Gonzalez Convention Center, Hall C, Street Level
Soil quality, soil health, and soil sustainability are widely used terms but are difficult to define and illustrate, especially to a non-technical audience. A packet of a dozen demonstrations for the field and classroom was compiled and titled ‘Building a Sustainable Soil’. Some of the demonstrations were newly developed while others have been refined or updated from demonstrations outlined by others. New methodology was developed to qualitatively and quantitatively estimate water infiltration rates (IR), water-holding capacity at saturation (WHCs), potential nitrate-nitrogen (NO3–N) loss or soil aggregation from a whole soil stability index (WSSI). Complete details for assembling apparatus and conducting demonstrations and measurements are provided. In addition to being performed successfully multiple times to a variety of audiences, the methods also have been tested on benchmark soils and values were compared with each other and to a soil ranking based on management history. In these benchmark soils, IR, WHCs and WSSI increased with a reduction in soil disturbance and more continuous plant cover due to diverse crop rotation and perennials. Nitrate–N loss was highest in soils with synthetic fertilizer inputs, little plant cover, and more soil disturbance. The WSSI methodology was published in the Soil and Tillage Research journal while the IR, WHCs, and NO3–N loss methodology may be found in the Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education.