Anthropogenic effects on soil quality of ancient agricultural systems of the American Southwest

Author Name: 
Jeffrey A. Homburg a,⁎, Jonathan A. Sandor b
Publication Date: 
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Private File Attachment: 
Although numerous studies have focused on irrigation canals, irrigated soils have received far less attention. Soil studies of irrigation systems along the Gila and Santa Cruz rivers of Arizona now underway will help fill this research gap. (introduction) Although significant knowledge about soil and landscape change in Southwest American Indian agriculture and its archaeological record has been gained, much remains unknown and uncertain. (conclusion) With some notable exceptions (e.g., terra preta soils in the Amazon Basin, plaggen soils in Europe, some ancient terraced soils in Peru and soils of Asian rice production systems), soil degradation is the most common outcome of agriculture on a world-wide basis (especially that caused by accelerated erosion, nutrient loss, and salinization), and similar outcomes are represented in the Southwest. Unlike many other parts of the world, it is interesting to note that numerous examples of soil enhancement are represented in agroecosystems of the Southwest. The American Southwest, with its long agricultural history and wide range of systems, environments, and effects, holds valuable evidence and lessons on soil and landscape change. (conclusion)