November 20, 2017

Framework for Sustainable Soil Management

Framework for Sustainable Soil Management: Literature Review and Synthesis
by John S. Kruse, 2007

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Executive Summary


This paper was prepared to help inform the Soil and Water Conservation Society’s (SWCS) ongoing efforts to foster the science and art of soil management. SWCS has a vital interest in enhancing the ability of conservationists and landowners to manage soil in ways that sustain productivity and protect the environment. Effective soil management is essential to the long-term sustainability and commercial viability of agriculture. It is also the foundation of effective environmental management of farming systems. The need for more effective and comprehensive soil management has become even more urgent as a means to both mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. The restoration of soil quality has become an important strategy for addressing world food security.

The goal for this paper was to document the state of the current science on the concept of constructing a practical and useful framework for evaluating the potential effects of management and conservation practices on soil quality. The long-term goal is a framework that is both scientifically sound and usable by producers and the advisors who recommend alternative management and conservation systems for their operations. There is controversy and disagreement in some quarters regarding the concept of soil quality and its applicability to soil management. We have attempted to document those disagreements but have not tried to resolve them in this paper.

The paper reviewed scientific literature in the following areas: (1) definitions of soil quality, (2) soil functions, (3) soil attributes and indicators, (4) attempts to set threshold levels for indicators, and (4) attempts to construct frameworks for more comprehensive soil management.

The literature was limited to North America to reduce the scope and challenge of such a literature review.

Supplementary Material: Beyond T Guiding Sustainable Soil Management

Suggested Citation
Kruse, J.S. 2007. Framework for Sustainable Soil Management: Literature Review and Synthesis. Ankeny, IA: Soil and Water Conservation Society.

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