Soil as Social-Ecological Feedback

Full Title

Soil as a social-ecological feedback: Mapping the social and ecological processes for agroecosystem resilience in the era of climate change


Social science research indicates that soil health can act as a “social-ecological feedback,” which is a result of direct producer experiences managing for weather variability and extremes and their impact to their soil resources. The observation of these changing soil conditions can result in land managers’ re-evaluation of their soil resources and drive them towards more sustainable management that builds soil health and enhances climate resilience. Given the projected impacts of climate change and limited adoption of soil improving approaches among many large-scale agricultural producers in the U.S., new tools for understanding how and why certain soil conservation practices are implemented across the landscape are urgently needed. The goal of this Pursuit is to bring together a diverse team of collaborators to examine how soil health can act as a social-ecological feedback at the level of individual farmers, agencies and policy makers’ decisions to use or encourage soil enhancing practices through a transdisciplinary integration of biophysical, climatic and social science data at multiple scales (spatial and human-institutional). Further, this Pursuit would enable the enhancement of soil health through the development of data mining and geospatial analysis techniques, integrated into a distributable library in R and developed into visual aids via an online Story Map format. This proposed output could be used to facilitate the development of diagnostic and educational tools to understand the social, biophysical, as well as policy-level, factors that influence the adoption of soil health improving practices.

Project Type
Team Synthesis Project
Principal Investigators
Gabrielle Roesch-McNally, USDA
Andrea Basche, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
J. Gordon Arbuckle, Iowa State University
Dave Huggins, USDA
Laura Lengnick, Cultivating Resilience, LLC
Stephen Machado, Oregon State University
Teresa Matteson, Benton Soil and Water Conservation
Jennifer Moore-Kucera, NRCS
Rachel Schattman, University of Vermont and USDA
Erich Seamon, University of Idaho
Katherine L. Tully

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