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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 64 No. 6, p. 2115-2124
     
    Received: Apr 21, 1999


    * Corresponding author(s): jbrejda@unlserve.unl.edu
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doi:10.2136/sssaj2000.6462115x

Identification of Regional Soil Quality Factors and Indicators I. Central and Southern High Plains

  1. John J. Brejda *a,
  2. Thomas B. Moormanb,
  3. Douglas L. Karlenb and
  4. Thanh H. Daoc
  1. a USDA-ARS, Wheat, Sorghum, and Forage Res. Unit, 344 Keim Hall, Univ. of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68583 USA
    b USDA-ARS, Natl. Soil Tilth Lab., 2150 Pammel Drive, Ames, IA 50011 USA
    c USDA-ARS, Conserv. and Prod. Res. Lab., P.O. Box Drawer 10, Bushland, TX 79012 USA

Abstract

Appropriate indicators for assessing soil quality on a regional scale using the National Resource Inventory (NRI) are unknown. Our objectives were to (i) identify soil quality factors present at a regional scale, (ii) determine which factors vary significantly with land use, and (iii) select soil attributes within these factors that can be used as soil quality indicators for regional-scale assessment. Ascalon (fine-loamy, mixed, superactive, mesic Aridic Argiustoll) and Amarillo (fine-loamy, mixed, thermic Aridic Paleustalf) soils were sampled from a statistically representative subset of NRI sample points within the Central and Southern High Plains Major Land Resource Areas (MLRA) and analyzed for 20 soil attributes. Factor analysis was used to identify soil quality factors, and discriminant analysis was used to identify the factors and indicators most sensitive to land use within each MLRA. In the Central High Plains, five soil quality factors were identified, with the organic matter and color factors varying significantly with land use. Discriminant analysis selected total organic C (TOC) and total N as the most sensitive indicators of soil quality at a regional scale. In the Southern High Plains, six factors were identified, with water stable aggregate (WSA) content, TOC, and soil salinity varying significantly with land use. Discriminant analysis selected TOC and WSA content as the most sensitive indicators of soil quality in the Southern High Plains. Total organic C was the only indicator that consistently showed significant differences between land uses in both regions.

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