Soil Conservation: An Assessment of the National Resources Inventory, Volume 2


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Soil Conservation : An Assessment of the National Resources Inventory, Volume 2

Contact a Data Services Librarian for help. NC State Home. There are two ways to use the site: If you are interested in a small area single farm, neighborhood, small watershed then create an "Area of Interest" and you can generate reports and maps within the online app. If you are interested in an entire county or a large portion of a county, you will need to download the county's file geodatabase and do your analysis with desktop GIS software.

This is an ArcMap extension that makes soil mapping unit attribute joins to the appropriate database tables. Analyses, mapping, and report generation has been made very simple with this extension. In NLRA 15, for example, the effect would be negligible, while in MLRA , farmland conversion could leave the remaining forestland as much as 10 percent more erosion- prone than it is today.

If that occurred, a region where forestland might not appear to have a soil erosion problem today might indeed have such a problem in the future. This provides an opportunity to look at the kinds of forests that seem most susceptible to continued conver- sion to cropland. Table 11 shows the distribution of the general forest types within the test areas, and Table 12 indicates the percentage of each type in each test area that might be converted to cropland.

It is not uncommon in these sample areas for 10 to 25 percent of a given forest type to be rated as having potential for conversion to cropland. Just what impact this would have on the forest products industry in those regions is beyond the scope of this study, but it would appear that several policy inferences could be made from these data, particularly if they were analyzed on a state-by-state basis, using HLRA data, within each state to identify regional impact potentials.

In the samples from the central and eastern regions, the large acreages of oak-hickory forest that might be converted to cropland seem to hold the largest potential impact. Another way to use the NRI in looking at potential land use impacts is to summarize the effects of potential cropland conversion on the remaining forest resource as indicated by the current canopy cover of the forestland most likely to be converted.

This gives some idea of the size and value of the forest stands on those lands. Tables 13 and 14 are calculated in exactly the same manner as the two preceding tables, with the acreage figures aggregated according to estimated forest canopy cover. As can be seen, most of the potential cropland has canopy covers of less than 50 percent, and, in many areas, one-quarter to one-third is associated with a canopy cover of less than 25 percent. In some areas, the distribution is almost equally split among the canopy cover categories.

Of interest is MLRA 1, where most of the forest has a canopy cover of over 50 percent, and almost 11 percent of that forestland is rated as having potential for conversion to cropland. The NRI fores bland data also captured information about the size of trees, separating those with a diameter at breast height DBH of over 5 inches from the smaller trees. On areas with average DBH of less than 5 inches, a stocking rate was estimated.

Those factors were not correlated with conversion potential in this analysis, but that could be done if it were seen as potentially useful. The P factor was left out of the tables because it is unity 1 in all cases, and the wind erosion WEE was ignored because it was 0 in virtually all cases. It was assumed that the application of the needed treatment would result either in a C cover factor similar to that of land adequately protected in the same area, or in the maintenance of the existing C factor, whichever was lower. The analysis was done separately for grazed and ungrazed forestlands.

Detailed tables with the results of this analysis for the six MLRAs and the two states are available from the author. Several conclusions emerged. Forestland that is adequately treated has very low soil erosion rates, and the treatment of forestland identified as needing erosion control, if that treatment could achieve good forest cover, has the potential of reducing erosion on those lands by 60 to 90 percent.

Even timber stand improvement, however, may be asso- ciated with significant soil erosion reductions in terms of percentage if the assumptions are correct. Reductions in the range of 50 percent are not uncommon if an improved cover condition equivalent to that experienced on adequately protected land in the region can be achieved as part of the timber stand work. Since most of the work on improving timber crops includes some attention to roads, trails, and other openings in the forest, this may be achievable. On the national level, about 9 percent of the forest- land needs timber establishment and reinforcement, 42 percent needs timber stand improvement, and 2 percent needs timber crop improvement.

If significant progress on these treatment needs could be made, soil erosion on the nation's forests would be virtually nonexistent. To get at the soil erosion problem, however, conser- vation programs need only target about 3 to 5 percent of the forestlands in most areas. The NRI data provide excellent information for locating the general region and size of the areas that need to be targeted, and they give good guidance as to whether the program could be enhanced. It should be noted that SCS field staff were instructed to identify land that needed grazing eliminated in order to control erosion as land "needing erosion control.

As the first national statistical sample to include detailed forestry information, the MRI is of definite interest to the forestry policy community. Although industrial and nonfederal publicly owned forestlands are not separable from nonindustrial privately owned lands, it appears that the data can be of considerable value when used in conjunction with other sources of forest information.

A caveat is necessary, however, based on indicators from the limited sample data reviewed to date. The SCS technicians who were filling out the sample point data for the NRI were not all foresters, and this was a first attempt, so the data on specific forest types and even on general forest types may be somewhat suspect.

In this limited analysis, many data cells were encountered where the acreage suggested only one or two points in the entire MLRA. In assessing the size of the trees on the sample site DBH and the stocking rate, the field technician was supposed to list the DBH in inches if it was over 5, to estimate the stocking rate poor, moderate, full, or nonstock if the DBH was under 5 inches. Those points were counted, and from them, a rough estimate of an error rate can be determined. Whether all of these problems are errors or simply anomalies could not be ascertained, but it was clear that there were reasons to use the forest data with caution.


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As analyses continue, however, the errors will probably come to light, and the SCS will be able to improve tech- niques in forestry monitoring on a future NRI. Both the. One conclusion could be drawn from this review, how- ever. The forestland data are probably not too important in most states as a source of information on soil erosion and the effects of various conservation treatments. Soil erosion is simply not much of a problem on most forest- lands. This is not to say, however, that the NRI data cannot be of considerable value in the analysis of forestry policy.

Tests to develop analytical techniques for evaluating the general forest type, canopy cover, and stand size information should be conducted to test the value of the MLRA and statewide estimates as indicators of the potential workload for forestry programs on non- federal lands. It appears possible, from this limited review of the data, to use this information as one basis for identifying the forest opportunities of the nation and for drawing some conclusions about where the payoff of targeted forestry programs would be highest.

In addition, particularly for rangeland, they can be used to give some approximations of the returns that might be associated with different targeting schemes. If four sample points are considered useful criteria for selecting those data elements that have adequate statistical reliability, there seems to be little problem in utilizing the data base where acreages of range and forestland are fairly large.

In MLRAs where these acre- ages are fairly small, however, statistical reliability will be a significant problem. One response would be to add a line on every table generated that would be labeled "all other" or something similar, where the sample units containing less than four sample points could be aggre- gated. Such a category would allow each table to accurately add the acreages in the MLRA and to keep the internal percentages accurate without misleading the analyst by indicating small amounts of a condition that may or may not exist.

In both forest and rangeland, the MLRA data would lead to different, and more accurately targeted, policy decisions than the statewide averages would. In the rangeland analysis, for example, both MLRA 10 and 43 are located partially in Idaho, and both 77 and 81 are located mainly in Texas. In both cases, however, the MLRA data were different from each other and from the state data.

Thus, it would appear that most of the analyses that would be most useful for program managers could be run as a state analysis using those portions of the MLRA within the state. In many cases, this would lead to rather small areas, and increased problems with statistical reliabil- ity, but the use of the "all other n cateaorv At above should help that situation.

Anally, while there are many ways in which the point data are invaluable for research purposes, there are also very useful interpretations that can be made from the summary data provided by SCS.

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In selecting the HLRAs for this study, a common microcomputer and spreadsheet program was employed to develop useful information quickly. The method was straightforward. A spreadsheet tem- plate was prepared containing the MLRA numbers in the first column. It could then be used to enter such data as total range acres, acres needing various types of conservation treatment, or any other factor in adjoining columns. The spreadsheet was programmed to calculate the national totals by adding each column. If that matched the total provided by the SCS summary, the entries were assumed correct; if not, errors were located and corrected.

With the raw numbers entered, other columns on the spreadsheet could be programmed to calculate percentages or any other necessary calculation. The particular spreadsheet program used SuperCalc2 was also capable of rearranging the entries in ascending or descending order very rapidly. In this way, the MLRAs could be ranked according to any acreage or percentage characteristics.

Through the use of this increasingly common tool, a number of comparative tables were generated in a very short time see Table 15 , and MLRAs could be chosen for. Analyses of this kind can use the data from the SCS summaries on an ordinary office microcomputer to develop information that is likely to be adequate for a wide variety of policy and program planning needs, as well as giving useful insights that can be helpful in public information programs.

While this will not always satisfy the precision requirements of researchers, it is both inexpensive and efficient, and should not be overlooked as an opportunity that is available, for the first time, with the NRI. Discussion Kenneth G. Renard This is a most thorough and thought-provoking summary and analysis of the National Resources Inventory NRI survey for erosion from range and fores bland.

The assessments contained in Sampson's paper suggest additional analyses and summaries that would be worthwhile and supportive of Soil Conservation Service SCS targeting efforts. The group Schuster, contends that "until technology is developed to replace it Department of Agriculture USDA to adopt proven and acceptable techniques for evaluating vegetation as a more accurate and earlier indication of degradation of the total rangeland resource. The question that remains is whether the USLE has received sufficient verification and validation for use on rangeland.

Some of the earliest measurements of soil erosion were made by A. Sampson Sampson and Weyl, , assisted by L. Weyl, E.


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Storm, and C. These studies, and research by Chapline , illustrated how over- grazing allowed erosion to reduce soil fertility and waterholding capacity. Unfortunately, erosion research on rangeland languished from the time of these early efforts until the s. Concern for the ecological health of rangeland grew with general concern for the environment that developed during the late s and s. Excessive erosion was again recognized as being detrimental to rangelands as well as other agricultural lands.

Consequently, current management plans for rangelands frequently contain analyses on how management alternatives would affect erosion.


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  5. Since research has provided little information on erosion associated with rangeland activities, technology from other geographic areas was adapted to estimate erosion on rangeland. In particular, the USLE, which has been used successfully on cropland since the early s, was adopted to estimate erosion on rangeland.

    Water erosion on the northern slope of Al-Jabal Al-Akhdar of Libya.

    Had computer technology been available in the s, current erosion prediction methods might look more like the theory contained in Ellison's classic paper than like the empirical form of the USLE. The USLE and its predecessors were very much structured to be nuser friendly, n because by the early s erosion equations were accepted by the USDA-SCS as a tool for tailoring erosion control practices to the needs of specific fields and farms.

    Unfortunately, during this period no com- parable erosion research program on rangelands in the western United States was conducted, and thus recent efforts to develop erosion methods for rangelands have not had an extensive data base on which to draw. Although the USLE was being applied on a limited basis prior to its release in Agriculture Handbook Wischmeier and Smith, , the SCS and other agencies soon switched from the regional agronomic planning concepts for erosion abatement to the USLE, and by the mids there was an interest in using the technology on western rangelands.

    Thus, requests were made for a "best estimate" approach for the cover-management factor [Wischmeier then developed Table 10 in Agriculture Handbook Wischmeier and Smith, ] until such time that research could provide data for a similar table or an alternative. Table 1 presents a list of some of the material that has appeared in the scientific literature over the past few years regarding application of the USLE to range. Despite this considerable attention, many problems remain unresolved, although analysts are getting much closer to being comfortable with this technology.

    Time does not permit treatment of all of these problems. Rather, a discussion of the subfactor approach for evaluation of C will be presented. The procedure is very similar to that presented by Dissmeyer and Dissmeyer and Foster for forestland in the southeastern United States and now used elsewhere. The cover-management factor for rangeland is given as J.

    At present, there are no adjustments in this subfactor to account for differences in grazing intensity.

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    However, the coefficient 0. Other grazing effects, such as reduced. Surface cover creates small dams where runoff is temporarily ponded and eroded sediment may be deposited. Surface roughness influences soil erosion by reducing runoff volume and velocity, and by pending surface runoff to cause deposition.

    The roughness of a surface is expressed as the standard deviation among heights along the soil surface perpendicular to the slope. Tables and pictures for estimating RB are given in the document to assist the user in selecting the appropriate value for the condition being considered. Because the research is unlikely to be completed until after the targeting objectives of the Resource Conservation Act process are in effect using the NRI data. Furthermore, 6.

    Is there sufficient information on soil formation processes on rangeland to establish T values? Soil morphologists have noted that many of the soils on Walnut Gulch in southeastern Arizona are not soil based on their experience in more humid areas but rather partly weathered parent geologic material. Thus, given the dry conditions, low organic matter, and other factors, soil loss may not be affordable in a noneconomic sense. But geologic erosion has always been taking place in such areas.

    The question, then, is how significant current erosion is relative to geologic erosion. It is the material coming from headcuts, arroyo entrenching, channel degrading and widening, or other sources that is the major contributor to the downstream sediment yield Thus, unless land management alters the runoff distribu- tion, downstream sedimentation may not be rectified.

    And this is not even a part of the assessment of the NRI.

    Soil Conservation An Assessment of the National Resources Inventory, Volume 2

    The wind erosion estimates in the section on rangeland of this paper are very interesting. The area, on both sides of the lower Colorado River near the U. Further, desert pavements are quite common in the area. Were allowances for the gravel on the soil surface made? Visual assessment is accepted as valid and repeatable methods for both practitioners and academic researchers. In essence, the CSM approach could be considered as an extension of the visual evaluation family. Notably, both CSM and ecosystem service approaches are not based on reductionist hierarchical classifications of composition.

    Conventionally, the approach to monitoring soils has been the systematic collection and analysis of samples of selected biological or chemical components that are used as indicators to assess condition health. Even if based on existing data sets e. Hence, potentially, the CMS approach does not have the same financial and practical limitations as sampling or analytical methodologies. Consequently, development costs and time will be small and short.

    Of course, an ongoing and structured sampling programme for quality control purposes and verification of conservation status would be needed, as would be the case for any approach. For example, the reliance on habitat or land use practice as the basis of assessment of soil condition as opposed to the traditional approaches based on soil types and their origin. Also, there is the concern that the CSM approach is inherently biased against the agricultural use of soils and would place the priority of soil conservation above food production with the concomitant result of lower levels of production and the implications this has for commerce and living standards.

    These and other considerations are clearly relevant and will need to be debated and addressed as the methodology is trialled and developed. These matters are beyond the scope of this paper; given that its purpose was simply to introduce the CSM methodology for developing soil resource conversation policies. For some time, there has been a growing case for a change in attitude and policymaking with respect to the UK's and the EU's soil resources. A change from a production to a sustainable soil resource and function perspective could drive this. It might be better facilitated by approaching soils as a matter of resource conservation rather than risk management.

    The same approach could be deployed to set the conservation objectives and report on the status of soil resources consistently at individual local features as well as at national scales. The initial development of the CSM methodology for the UK's nationally important nature conservation assets in the early s was largely by Drs. We thank both anonymous referees for their informative and constructive critiques of our initial and revised manuscripts. Volume 34 , Issue 1. The full text of this article hosted at iucr.

    If you do not receive an email within 10 minutes, your email address may not be registered, and you may need to create a new Wiley Online Library account. If the address matches an existing account you will receive an email with instructions to retrieve your username. Soil Use and Management Volume 34, Issue 1. Research Paper Open Access. Humphries Corresponding Author E-mail address: humphriesrn. Tools Request permission Export citation Add to favorites Track citation. Share Give access Share full text access.

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    Share full text access. Please review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article. Abstract It has long been realized that the conservation of soil capital and ecosystem services are of paramount importance, resulting in a growing case for a change in attitude and policymaking in respect of soils. Framework for future UK policies Policy development From the late s, government policymaking in the UK became more explicitly evidence informed Davies, Frameworks and indicators Frameworks provide the basic structures for concepts or systems, whereas indicators are the parameters or values, which describe states and fluxes within the concepts and systems, and their frameworks OECD, , With intervention measures.

    Prioritization and division of responsibility As introduced earlier, the importance of soils and the risks to the future of the Earth's finite land resources have long been argued by influential members of the land user and scientific communities. Conclusions For some time, there has been a growing case for a change in attitude and policymaking with respect to the UK's and the EU's soil resources. Acknowledgements The initial development of the CSM methodology for the UK's nationally important nature conservation assets in the early s was largely by Drs.

    Abdollahi, L.

    Natural Resources Conservation Service

    Tillage system and cover crop effects on soil quality: I. Chemical, mechanical, and biological properties. Soil Science Society America Journal , 78 , —

    Soil Conservation: An Assessment of the National Resources Inventory, Volume 2 Soil Conservation: An Assessment of the National Resources Inventory, Volume 2
    Soil Conservation: An Assessment of the National Resources Inventory, Volume 2 Soil Conservation: An Assessment of the National Resources Inventory, Volume 2
    Soil Conservation: An Assessment of the National Resources Inventory, Volume 2 Soil Conservation: An Assessment of the National Resources Inventory, Volume 2
    Soil Conservation: An Assessment of the National Resources Inventory, Volume 2 Soil Conservation: An Assessment of the National Resources Inventory, Volume 2
    Soil Conservation: An Assessment of the National Resources Inventory, Volume 2 Soil Conservation: An Assessment of the National Resources Inventory, Volume 2
    Soil Conservation: An Assessment of the National Resources Inventory, Volume 2 Soil Conservation: An Assessment of the National Resources Inventory, Volume 2

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