Selecting soil hydraulic properties as indicators of soil health: Measurement response to management and site characteristics

Dianna K. Bagnall, Cristine L.S. Morgan, G. Mac Bean, Daniel Liptzin, Shannon B. Cappellazzi, Michael Cope, Kelsey L.H. Greub, Elizabeth L. Rieke, Charlotte E. Norris, Paul W. Tracy, Ezra Aberle, Amanda Ashworth, Oscar Bañuelos Tavarez, Andy I. Bary, R. L. Baumhardt, Alberto Borbón Gracia, Daniel C. Brainard, Jameson R. Brennan, Dolores Briones Reyes, Darren BruhjellCameron N. Carlyle, James J.W. Crawford, Cody F. Creech, Steve W. Culman, Bill Deen, Curtis J. Dell, Justin D. Derner, Thomas F. Ducey, Sjoerd W. Duiker, Miles F. Dyck, Benjamin H. Ellert, Martin H. Entz, Avelino Espinosa Solorio, Steven J. Fonte, Simon Fonteyne, Ann Marie Fortuna, Jamie L. Foster, Lisa M. Fultz, Audrey V. Gamble, Charles M. Geddes, Deirdre Griffin-LaHue, John H. Grove, Stephen K. Hamilton, Xiying Hao, Zachary D. Hayden, Nora Honsdorf, Julie A. Howe, James A. Ippolito, Gregg A. Johnson, Mark A. Kautz, Newell R. Kitchen, Sandeep Kumar, Kirsten S.M. Kurtz, Francis J. Larney, Katie L. Lewis, Matt Liebman, Antonio Lopez Ramirez, Stephen Machado, Bijesh Maharjan, Miguel Angel Martinez Gamiño, William E. May, Mitchel P. McClaran, Marshall D. McDaniel, Neville Millar, Jeffrey P. Mitchell, Amber D. Moore, Philip A. Moore, Manuel Mora Gutiérrez, Kelly A. Nelson, Emmanuel C. Omondi, Shannon L. Osborne, Leodegario Osorio Alcalá, Philip Owens, Eugenia M. Pena-Yewtukhiw, Hanna J. Poffenbarger, Brenda Ponce Lira, Jennifer R. Reeve, Timothy M. Reinbott, Mark S. Reiter, Edwin L. Ritchey, Kraig L. Roozeboom, Yichao Rui, Amir Sadeghpour, Upendra M. Sainju, Gregg R. Sanford, William F. Schillinger, Robert R. Schindelbeck, Meagan E. Schipanski, Alan J. Schlegel, Kate M. Scow, Lucretia A. Sherrod, Amy L. Shober, Sudeep S. Sidhu, Ernesto Solís Moya, Mervin St. Luce, Jeffrey S. Strock, Andrew E. Suyker, Virginia R. Sykes, Haiying Tao, Alberto Trujillo Campos, Laura L. Van Eerd, Harold M. van Es, Nele Verhulst, Tony J. Vyn, Yutao Wang, Dexter B. Watts, David L. Wright, Tiequan Zhang, C. Wayne Honeycutt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Farmers, scientists, and other soil health stakeholders require interpretable indicators of soil hydraulic function. Determining which indicators to use has been difficult because of measurement disconformity, spatial and temporal variability, recently established treatments, and the effect of site characteristics on management practice differences. The North American Project to Evaluate Soil Health Measurements includes 124 sites uniformly sampled across a range of soil health management practices in North America in 2019. We compare and recommend indicators of hydraulic function that best characterize soil health. We assessed the relationship of each indicator to a suite of soil inherent properties and climate variables, the response of each indicator to soil health management practices, the effect that soil inherent properties (clay content, sand content, and pH) and climatic variables (10-yr mean annual precipitation and temperature) had on response to management practices, and the relationship among the responses of the indicators to soil health management practices. Field capacity measured on intact cores (θFC_INTACT) was the best measure of soil hydraulic function, because it responded to management, represents a direct measure of soil hydraulic function, is proximal to stakeholder values, and its response to management was not significantly influenced by inherent and climatic variables. Other suitable indicators are bulk density, soil organic carbon (SOC), and aggregate stability, which are not direct measures of soil hydraulic function but do respond to management and may be practical in situations in which measuring θFC_INTACT is not. This study informs selection of soil health indicators to measure soil hydraulic function.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSoil Science Society of America Journal
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada. Soil Science Society of America Journal published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Soil Science Society of America. Reproduced with the permission of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. This article has been contributed to by U.S. Government employees and their work is in the public domain in the USA.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science


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