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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 94 No. 1, p. 33-38
    Received: May 22, 2000

    * Corresponding author(s): craig.ditzler@nssc.nrcs.usda.gov
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Soil Quality Field Tools

  1. Craig A. Ditzler *a and
  2. Arlene J. Tugelb
  1. a USDA-NRCS, Soil Quality Inst., Natl. Soil Tilth Lab., 2150 Pammel Drive, Ames, IA 50011
    b USDA-NRCS, Soil Quality Inst., Jornada Exp. Range, MSC 3JER, P.O. Box 30003, Las Cruces, NM 88003-0003


The mission of the Soil Quality Institute (SQI) of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service is to develop and disseminate tools for soil quality assessment. In keeping with this mission, the SQI, through partnerships, has developed two assessment tools for use by farmers and field staff. We review these efforts here. The first, the Soil Quality Card Design Guide, provides a nine-step process for conducting workshops to guide farmers in the development of locally adapted soil quality assessment cards. The second, the Soil Quality Test Kit Guide, provides instructions and interpretations for 11 field tests representing physical, chemical, and biological properties of soil. In this paper, we present a summary of soil quality cards developed in seven states. An important strength of the soil quality card design process lies with the active participation of farmers to design the cards themselves as part of locally lead conservation activities. We also present results from soil quality test kit training workshops showing that the test kit provides an excellent framework for teaching soil quality concepts in the field. Regular use to compare effects of management systems or monitor changes over time will likely be limited to farmers with fairly high skill levels, specialists, and agricultural consultants.

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Copyright © 2002. American Society of AgronomyPublished in Agron. J.94:33–38.