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Goals of a Sustainable Soil Fertility Management Program

To sustain high crop productivity and crop quality in food and fiber production (not maximum yields, which typically require excessive nutrient inputs to achieve) a) Crop productivity, crop quality, and the economic viability of a given farming operation 2.

To minimize environmental quality and human health risks associated with agricultural production a) Important steps in minimizing human health risks and on- and off-farm impacts i. Avoid the use of all synthetically compounded materials (e.g., fertilizers and pest control agents, etc.) known to have an associated environmental quality or human health risk ii.

Avoid creating non-point source (NPS) pollution through surface runoff and leaching. Excess nutrients (especially nitrogen and phosphorus) can degrade the quality of groundwater, surface freshwater (e.g., rivers, lakes and wetlands), and nearshore marine environments, causing eutrophication (low oxygen levels) and allowing weedy species to outcompete native species as well as polluting drinking water (see Supplement.

Nitrate Contamination of Groundwater, in Unit 1.5, Irrigation— Principles and Practices) among other negative effects. iii. Prevent soil erosion and sedimentation of waterways. Soil loss reduces production capacity and soil entering waterways may degrade aquatic habitat (see more at Supplement 2, The Global Socio-Environmental Effects of Soil Erosion). iv.

Finally

Close nutrient cycles as much as possible within the field and farm to reduce energy use and environmental impact of food and fiber production v. Close nutrient cycles at multiple scales (e.g., watershed, regional, and national scales) 3. To assess and maintain soil health for long-term functioning of the above goals

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