Participatory Evaluation of Farmer Based Soil Quality Assessment Cards

2000 Annual Report for SW99-063

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 1999: $49,997.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2002
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $5,275.00
Region: Western
State: Oregon
Principal Investigator:
Daniel McGrath
Oregon State University

Participatory Evaluation of Farmer Based Soil Quality Assessment Cards


A team of 30 Oregon farmers and University faculty developed the Willamette Valley Soil Quality Card (OSU EM 8711) and Soil Quality Card Guide (OSU EM 8710). The soil quality assessment cards assist farmers and ag professionals to systematically evaluate the physical, biological, and chemical properties of soil. The cards focus on properties of soil that are overlooked when test are directed at informing a fertilizer recommendation (Card packet and Guide enclosed).

With assistance from the Oregon State University Survey Research Center, we have developed a survey instrument that will allow us to determine how widely the cards have been distributed in the farming community and whether or not they are having an impact on attitudes and behavior related to soil management (Survey Tool Enclosed).

Due to the departure of Dr. Stefan Seiter from Oregon (Stefan accepted a teaching position at the University of New Hampshire), the evaluation of the Oregon Soil Quality Assessment Card has been delayed. After a lengthy search for a replacement for Dr. Seiter, an individual was recently hired and the project is now moving forward.

Objectives/Performance Targets

To measure the level of adoption of the Oregon Soil Quality Assessment Card and the impact it made on card users.

To facilitate farmer’s learning about soil quality and enhance their capacity to make sustainable soil management decisions.

To improve the design of the current Oregon Soil Quality Assessment Card and to refine the participatory process of developing future soil quality assessment tools by disseminating study results and conclusions.


Hired a research assistant to manage the project (replacing Stefan Seiter)
Finished survey instrument (ready for pilot testing)
Established initial data base of names and addresses for survey
Assembled a team of USDA/NRCS and ODA/SWCD professionals to assist evaluation of the soil quality assessment card.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

We believe that the process of conducting the survey will, in itself, raise awareness of the existence of the soil quality card. By raising questions about the utility and value of the cards, we will prompt farmers and ag professionals to take a close look at the card.


Catherine Knott

Oregon State University
Stefan Seiter

University of New Hampshire
Cathy Seybold

USDA-NRCS Corvallis, Oregon
Steve Campbell

USDA-NRCS Portland, Oregon