Scientific case studies in land-use driven soil erosion in the central United States: Why soil potential and risk concepts should be included in the principles of soil health

Benjamin L. Turner, Jay Fuhrer, Melissa Wuellner, Hector M. Menendez, Barry H. Dunn, Roger Gates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Despite recent improvements in overall soil health gained through conservation agriculture, which has become a global priority in agricultural systems, soil and water-related externalities (e.g., wind and water erosion) continue to persist or worsen. Using an inductive, systems approach, we tested the hypothesis that such externalities persist due to expansion of cultivation onto areas unsuitable for sustained production. To test this hypothesis, a variety of data sources and analyses were used to uncover the land and water resource dynamics underlying noteworthy cases of soil erosion (either wind or water) and hydrological effects (e.g., flooding, shifting hydrographs) throughout the central United States. Given the evidence, we failed to reject the hypothesis that cultivation expansion is contributing to increased soil and water externalities, since significant increases in cultivation on soils with severe erosion limitations were observed everywhere the externalities were documented. We discuss the case study results in terms of land use incentives (e.g., policy, economic, and biophysical), developing concepts of soil security, and ways to utilize case studies such as those presented to better communicate the value of soil and water resource conservation. Incorporating the tenets of soil potential and soil risk into soil health evaluations and cultivation decision-making is needed to better match the soil resource with land use and help avoid more extreme soil and water-related externalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-78
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Soil and Water Conservation Research
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2018

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Midwestern United States
soil erosion
soil quality
land use
case studies
soil
soil resources
water resources
water
economic policy
water erosion
wind erosion
land resources
natural resources conservation
health
decision making
hydrograph
farming system
agriculture
incentive

Keywords

  • Externality
  • Soil erosion
  • Soil potential
  • Soil security
  • Watershed runoff

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

Cite this

Scientific case studies in land-use driven soil erosion in the central United States : Why soil potential and risk concepts should be included in the principles of soil health. / Turner, Benjamin L.; Fuhrer, Jay; Wuellner, Melissa; Menendez, Hector M.; Dunn, Barry H.; Gates, Roger.

In: International Soil and Water Conservation Research, Vol. 6, No. 1, 03.2018, p. 63-78.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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