U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


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Ylagan S, Amorim HCS, Ashworth AJ, Sauer T, Wienhold BJ, Owens PR, Zinn YL, Brye KR. Soil quality assessment of an agroforestry system following long-term management in the Ozark Highlands. Agrosyst Geosci Environ 2021;4:e20194. https://doi.org/10.1002/agg2.20194




The Soil Management Assessment Framework (SMAF) is a quantitative soil quality (SQ) evaluation tool that is widely applied to assess soil response to specific agricultural management practices over time. Considering the reported SQ benefits of agroforestry (AF) systems and the potential usefulness of SMAF, the objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of tree species (pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] and northern red oak [Quercus rubra L.]), soil fertility source (poultry litter [PL] and inorganic N fertilizer [control]), and soil depth (0–15 and 15–30 cm) on SMAF-derived SQ indices after 17 yr of management at an AF site in northwest Arkansas. Averaged across soil depth, soil organic C scores under red oak with PL application had a lower score (0.48) than red oak fertilized with inorganic N (0.60) and pecan receiving long-term PL applications (0.60), which did not differ from pecan with inorganic N fertilizer application (0.51). Averaged across soil depth, the soil quality index (SQI) for pecan receiving PL applications was 1.1 times greater than that under red oak receiving PL and soils under pecan receiving inorganic N fertilizer. Soil quality assessments use in AF are novel, as SMAF has not been used to identify soil health in these systems, although specific tree crop codes need to be developed in SMAF. Results of this study demonstrate that soils planted under various tree species respond dissimilarly to fertilizer sources and that management may improve overall SQ.

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