Improving our understanding of soil heath indicators is necessary to increase farm resilience in low productivity, semiarid areas. This study evaluated the effect of land use on below-ground soil processes that support soil organic matter storage and nutrient cycling. The soil samples used for this study were harvested near Clovis, NM from fields under one of several forms of management: grazed native pasture, cropland converted to grassland, conventional-tilled grazed cropland, and no-tilled and strip-tilled croplands with no grazing. The study confirmed several fundamentals of soil health applicable to other environments:
- Conversion to grassland restores soil organic carbon lost due to cultivation.
- Livestock integration in cropping system improves soil organic matter storage.
- Minimizing soil disturbance improves soil structure and thereby reduces soil erosion.