National Soil Health Assessment Focusing First on State Soils

A number of soil health partners are working in earnest to develop a National Soil Health Assessment (NSHA).  The purpose of the NSHA is to generate data and analyses to:

  • establish baselines for soil health at regional to national scales;
  • identify trends in changes in soil health;
  • establish a context to interpret soil health information obtained for individual land managers and local decision makers;
  • support selection of land management practices that will lead to improvements in soil health and the resulting benefits to agricultural production and natural resources; and
  • provide information to policy makers responsible for public policies in agriculture and natural resources.

Public and private sector collaboration will be required to ensure the NSHA’s success. The Institute is considering a plan to test sampling designs and protocols on the State Soils – the most geospatially and agriculturally important soils in the 48 coterminous United States. The State Soils are represented in this map, created by USDA-NRCS at the Institute’s request.

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Credit: Created by National Soil Survey Center, USDA-NRCS, Soil Science Division on September 21, 2016