The Science of Soil Health: Dynamic Soil Properties


We’re out here in some tallgrass prairie
in Nebraska and I’m with Skye Wills who is a soil scientist with NRCS at the National
Soil Survey Center and, Skye, I was just fascinated by our conversation earlier
about the work that you do in Dynamic Soil Properties – and I’m particularly
interested in how that works with farmers. Will you explain to me very
briefly and really in terms of how farmers think of it, what re Dynamic
Soil Properties? I think about dynamic soil properties as
any property that changes with time and farmers are usually most interested in
those that change with management systems. What I would like to say to
farmers about dynamical properties is we know that what you have right now may or
may not be with the potential of your soil is. I would like to
introduce the idea that soil properties can be improved as a farmer
the way you manage inputs and the amount of disturbance, tillage, pesticides
crop rotation – those all influenced the soil properties today and the soil
properties today influence what you’re going to be able to do tomorrow – and in
this…. climatic landscape where everything is
changing the crops we can grow, the yields that we’re able to obtain, the
price of fertilizer the price of diesel – these are all unknown but with
good management your soil should be able to withstand all of that. You
have the most opportunities and the most potential with the best managed soil. Help me understand why the idea of
Dynamic Soil Properties has only emerged now – it doesn’t seem to be very much common
currency in farming circles in agronomic circles. Well, the the term Dynamic Soil
Properties has really arisen from the intersection of soil survey in a
traditional approach to mapping landscape and soil management especially
soil health and soil biology which are emerging fields although they’ve been
around for a while it’s just now there’s some synergy between those different
areas and I think that we’re starting to learn each other’s terminology and
we’re finding that this idea of Dynamic Soil Properties common ground. It’s something we can all understand we can all talk about together and we can
really use it to integrate and hopefully expand our research and
knowledge.

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