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Seybold, C. A.1; Herrick, J. E.2; Brejda, J. J.3

Technical Articles

Soil resilience has recently been introduced into soil science to address sustainability of the soil resource and to combat soil degradation. The concept of soil resilience and its relationship to soil quality have not been well defined or well developed. The main objectives of this paper are to clarify the concept of soil resilience and its relationship to soil quality and to present a framework for its assessment. A review of the literature on the assessment and quantification of soil resilience is presented and discussed. The concept of soil resilience in combination with resistance is presented as an important component of soil quality, a key element of sustainability. Factors that affect soil resilience and resistance are soil type and vegetation, climate, land use, scale, and disturbance regime. Maintenance of recovery mechanisms after a disturbance is critical for system recovery. Three approaches for assessing soil resilience are presented: (i) directly measuring recovery after a disturbance, (ii) quantifying the integrity of recovery mechanisms after a disturbance, and (iii) measuring properties that serve as indicators of those recovery mechanisms. Research is needed in the development of indicators or quantitative measures of the ability of soils to recover from specific disturbances.

1USDA-NRCS, Soil Quality Institute, Soil Science, ALS Bldg., Rm. 3017, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331. Dr. Seybold is corresponding author. E-mail:

2USDA-ARS, Jornada Experimental Range, Dept. 3JER, New Mexico State University, Box 30003, Las Cruces, NM 88003.

3USDA-NRCS, Soil Quality Institute, National Soil Tilth Laboratory, 2150 Pammel Dr., Ames, IA 50011.

Received Sept. 21, 1998; accepted Dec. 18, 1998.

© 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.