Soil Degradation, Land Use, and Sustainability

  • Jerry L. HatfieldEmail author
Part of the Biotechnology in Agriculture and Forestry book series (AGRICULTURE, volume 67)


One of the critical foundations of a stable agricultural system is the soil resource. Soil provides the substrate(s) of water, nutrient, gases, and physical characteristics which are fundamental to a sustainable highly productive agriculture. To continue to expand our capability to produce food, feed, fiber, and fuel in the most efficient manner requires that we begin to address soil degradation and how we maintain and restore soil productivity. Soil degradation is a result of a continual loss of organic matter or nutrients from the soil through the combined processes of tillage and residue removal which in turn affects the physical , chemical , and biological processes . Once soil is degraded then it becomes susceptible to erosion, compaction, crusting, and has an impaired biological function leading to a loss of productivity. All of these factors begin to limit the ability of the soil to supply adequate water for plant growth and creates a production system extremely susceptible to variations in weather during the growing season. Improving our soil and reversing the trend in degradation is a necessary step for food security and sustainability.


Soil Organic Carbon Crop Residue Cover Crop Soil Resource Conventional Tillage 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.USDA-ARSNational Laboratory for Agriculture and the EnvironmentAmesUSA

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