What We Mean by Soil Health with Dr. Ryan Stewart


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“What We Talk about When We Talk about Soil Health” with Dr. Ryan Stewart.

Soil health is an important topic for today’s scientists, but how do we quantify it, and when we talk about “healthy soils,” what do we even mean?

Dr. Ryan Stewart and his team set out to answer just that. Doing a meta-analysis on dozens of studies listed in The Soil Health Institute’s Research Landscape Tool, Ryan and his team compared different soil health indicators to determine what scientists are measuring, how they’re measuring it, and which are the most valuable in actual determining soil health.

Join us to learn:

  • How measuring soil health is similar to measuring health in humans
  • What kinds of soil health indicators scientists measure
  • How these indicators can be grouped and compared across multiple studies
  • Which indicators are the most helpful in measuring soil health

If you would like more information about this topic, this episode’s paper is available here: https://doi.org/10.2134/ael2018.06.0033

This paper is always freely available.

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Contact us at podcast@sciencesocieties.org or on Twitter @FieldLabEarth if you have comments, questions, or suggestions for show topics, and if you want more content like this don’t forget to subscribe.

If you would like to reach out to Ryan, you can find him here: ryan.stewart@vt.edu @CriticalZoneLab


CEU Quiz: http://www.agronomy.org/education/classroom/classes/815

Agricultural & Environmental Letters Journal

Soil Health Calculator: https://soilhealth.spes.vt.edu/CoverCropCalculator.html

Virginia Tech Soil Health Website: https://soilhealth.spes.vt.edu/

NRCS fact sheets: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/soils/health/

Soil Health Institute: https://soilhealthinstitute.org/

Soil Health Institute Research Landscape Tool: http://www.soilhealthinstituteresearch.org/Home/Search

Soil Health Institute Conferences and Meetings: https://soilhealthinstitute.org/events/

Soil Health Institute Soil Health Indicators: https://soilhealthinstitute.org/north-american-project-to-evaluate-soil-health-measurements/

SARE: https://www.sare.org/

SARE Cover Crops Economic Bulletin: https://www.sare.org/Learning-Center/Bulletins/Cover-Crop-Economics

USDA Soil Health Indicators: https://directives.sc.egov.usda.gov/OpenNonWebContent.aspx?content=43754.wba

Field, Lab, Earth is copyrighted to the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America.

62 episodes