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Baseline Soil Quality within a Lower Mississippi River Alluvial Basin Agricultural Watershed

Locke, M. A., Ramirez-Avila, J. J., Stott, D. E., Karlen, D. L., & Steinriede, W., Jr. (2015). Baseline Soil Quality within a Lower Mississippi River Alluvial Basin Agricultural Watershed. ASA CSA SSSA 2015 Annual Meeting. Minneapolis, MN.


An assessment was conducted in Beasley Lake Watershed (BLW) near Inverness, MS, in 2008 to obtain a temporal baseline on soil health. Beasley Lake is an abandoned meander of the adjacent Big Sunflower River, surrounded by an agricultural landscape that is characteristic of the Mississippi River alluvial plain. ARS scientists from the National Sedimentation Laboratory, Oxford, MS, have overseen research in BLW since 1994, as one of three oxbow lake watersheds selected as a component of the Mississippi Delta Management Systems Evaluation Area (MSEA) Project. In 2003, BLW became part of the USDA Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) Watershed Assessment areas. An additive Soil Quality Index (SQI) was computed using the Soil Management Assessment Framework (SMAF) for over 200 samples (0-5 cm depth) collected across the BLW. The SQI was composed from 2 physical, 2 chemical, 4 biological and biochemical, and 2 nutrients indicators. Sample sites included 3 management scenarios: row crop (RC, 47% of the samples), Conservation Reserve Program (CRP, 31%) (estab. 2003), and quail buffer (QB, 22%) (estab. 2006), distributed in four soil series representative of three aquic taxonomic suborders (Aqualf, Aquept, Aquert). Alligator soil series (Aquert) was not observed within the CRP scenario. SQI and clusters of indicators were compared (p

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