Monday, November 2, 2009: 4:00 PM
Convention Center, Room 333, Third Floor
Soil quality (SQ) indicators are meant to tell us something about how a soil is functioning. Measurement of SQ indicators might answer a question like: Is the soil retaining and cycling nutrients?; sequestering carbon?; or partitioning water in the amounts needed for its intended use? Factors, such as inherent soil properties, climate, topography, as well as spatial and temporal variation all complicate the use and interpretation of SQ indicators. Yet they remain simpler to estimate than direct measures of function. Uses of these indicators range education of land managers to improve conservation management, to estimates for brokers for climate exchange, to reports for legislators to improve natural resource conservation policy. NRCS, agency and university partners are continually working to improve and develop indicators as needs arise. For instance, global warming has increased the need for simple indicators of soil organic carbon (SOC), despite the fact that SOC is import to many other functions as well. Also needed are indicators of function at various temporal and spatial scales. These may require either different assays or different sampling intensities. We will discuss testing of several indicators in various stages of development, two soil carbon measures and one for compaction, intended to either inventory or assess SQ at multiple scales. Continued partnerships for indicator development are necessary to meet the multiple needs for these indicators of soil function.