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On-farm soil health evaluations: Challenges and opportunities

Douglas L. Karlen, Nicholas J, Goeser, Kristen S. Veum, Matt A. Yost
Journal of soil and water conservation 2017 v.72 no.2 pp. 26A-31A
farms, guidelines, health effects assessments, issues and policy, land management, soil quality, soil resources
Interest in soil health (or soil quality) by producers, conservationists, environmentalists, agricultural scientists, policy makers, and many other groups has increased exponentially during the past five years. Yet questions remain: can soil health be measured at the field or farm scale, and can that data be used to improve land management decisions and thus help protect, conserve, and restore our fragile soil resources? Our opinion, based on three years of experience through the Soil Health Partnership (SHP), is that the answer to both of these questions is a resounding yes! Recognizing that several other public and private groups are now expressing interest in assessing soil health, our goals are to (1) summarize several of the SHP lessons learned during the past three years, (2) provide guidelines for future on-farm soil health studies, and (3) share some of our preliminary soil health assessment findings.