NRCS Computer Program Calculates Soil Quality, Erosion

No-tillers, especially those involved in the Conservation Security Program, have good reasons to pay attention to the new formula.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service now measures trends in soil organic matter and erosion with a recently developed formula known as RUSLE2, short for Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation, Version 2.

The computerized formula incorporates factors such as soil type, length and steepness of slopes, crop types and rotations, management practices and field operations (for example, tillage, harvesting, planting and spraying), local climate and any soil conservation practices.

From this information, the RUSLE2 assigns a Soil Conditioning Index (SCI) score to reflect the organic matter trend and the long-term trend for the quality of the land. It also predicts the amount of erosion that can be expected in tons per acre per year.

Available Online

RUSLE2 is available for public use at http://fargo.nserl.purdue.
edu/rusle2_dataweb/RUSLE2_Index.htm. And there is good reason for no-tillers to familiarize themselves with the formula.

“This is very important for people who are or will be participating in Conservation Security Program,” says Norm Widman, an NRCS agronomist in Greensboro, N.C. “There are a lot of CSP dollars per acre that you can be paid the higher the Soil Conditioning Index number goes.”

Beyond the money, Widman notes, no-tillers could gain additional insight about the condition of their land.

“If you’re a farmer, that soil is your factory for production and you’re the chief executive officer,” he told attendees at the recent Conservation Tillage & Technology Conference in Ada, Ohio. “You want to keep that factory at top production capability. How you manage that will determine how productive that…

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