Irrigation and drainage allow for high yields in areas that otherwise have shortages or excesses of water. There is no doubt that we need such water management practices to secure a food supply for a growing population and provide the high yields needed to arrest the conversion of natural lands into agriculture. Some of the most productive lands use drainage and/or irrigation, and the ability to control water regimes provides great advantages. Yet there is a larger context: These practices exact a price on the environment by diverting water from its natural course and increasing the potential for soil and water contamination. Good management practices can be used to reduce the impacts of altered water regimes. Building healthy soils is an important component of making soil and water management more sustainable by reducing the need for irrigation and drainage. In addition, other practices that promote more judicious use of water and chemical inputs help reduce environmental impacts.
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Table of Contents
- About the Authors
- Healthy Soils
- Organic Matter: What It Is and Why It's So Important
- Amount of Organic Matter in Soils
- The Living Soil
- Soil Particles, Water, and Air
- Soil Degradation: Erosion, Compaction, and Contamination
- Nutrient Cycles and Flows
- Soil Health, Plant Health, and Pests
- Managing for High Quality Soils: Organic Matter, Soil Physical Condition, Nutrient Availability
- Cover Crops
- Crop Rotations
- Animal Manures for Increasing Organic Matter and Supplying Nutrients
- Making and Using Composts
- Reducing Erosion and Runoff
- Preventing and Lessening Compaction
- Reducing Tillage
- Managing Water: Irrigation and Drainage
- Nutrient Management: An Introduction
- Management of Nitrogen and Phosphorus
- Other Fertility Issues: Nutrients, CEC, Acidity, and Alkalinity
- Getting the Most From Routine Soil Tests
- Taking Soil Samples
- Accuracy of Recommendations Based on Soil Tests
- Sources of Confusion About Soil Tests
- Soil Testing for Nitrogen
- Soil Testing for P
- Testing Soils for Organic Matter
- Interpreting Soil Test Results
- Adjusting a Soil Test Recommendation
- Making Adjustments to Fertilizer Application Rates
- Managing Field Nutrient Variability
- The Basic Cation Saturation Ratio System
- Summary and Sources
- How Good Are Your Soils? Field and Laboratory Evaluation of Soil Health
- Putting It All Together