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


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Agric Environ Lett. 2020;5:e20021.



This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License


Soil health indicator values vary based on parent material, native vegetation, and other soil forming factors; therefore, useful interpretations require consideration of inherent soil characteristics. Our objective was to evaluate the distribution of soil health indicators across soil and climate gradients throughout the state of Missouri through a statewide cover crop cost-share program. Soil samples (0–7 cm) were collected from 5,300 agricultural fields and analyzed for several soil health indicators. Comparisons were made among six regions in the state based on Major Land Resource Area and county boundaries. Results varied for soil organic carbon (C), active C, potentially mineralizable nitrogen, water stable aggregates, and cation exchange capacity by region and corresponded with soil forming factors. Interpretation of soil health indicators must account for regional factors, recognizing that areas with different inherent values have a different potential for soil health.

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