Free online book on soil and water conservation resources now available

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An open textbook, Soil and Water Conservation: An Annotated Bibliography, was recently published by New Prairie Press, Kansas State University’s open access digital press. The book highlights credible, free, and openly available online content related to soil and water conservation, including extension bulletins, government reports, technical bulletins, and more.

The book was edited by Colby Moorberg, an assistant professor of soil science in the Department of Agronomy at Kansas State University. The book was authored in a collaborative effort, led by Moorberg, that included 24 other experts and practitioners in soil and water conservation. Contributors also included students who were enrolled in AGRON 635 – Soil and Water Conservation in 2018 and 2019, a class taught by Moorberg. Funding for the book was provided by the K-State Open and Alternative Textbook Initiative.

What is an annotated bibliography?

Simply put, a bibliography is list of cited resources that all pertain to a specific subject. An annotated bibliography goes a step further and provides a brief descriptive summary of each citation.

Soil and Water Conservation: An Annotated Bibliography provides full citations and links to websites where resources can be accessed. Each citation is followed by an annotation that summarizes the resource and provides context (Figure 1).

The book is divided into four parts:

  1. History and fundamentals
    1. Introduction
    2. Key concepts in soil science
    3. Soil erosion processes
  2. Conservation practices
    1. Farmland
    2. Shorelines, streams, and wetlands
    3. Forest, range, and wildlands
    4. Construction sites and disturbed areas
    5. Rehabilitation of problem soils
    6. Water quality and quantity conservation
  3. Conservation implementation
    1. Conservation agencies
    2. Conservation polices
  4. Careers
    1. Soil and Water Conservation

Figure 1. Example of an annotated citation for using cover crops as a conservation practice on farmland. Each resource includes an online link and a short summary of the publication. Some citations include a relevant image like the one shown above.


This type of resource has much potential for agriculture, which has few open textbooks available to date, yet has a wealth of free, credible, and accessible technical resources such as university extension bulletins from Land Grant Institutions like K-State and government reports from conservation agencies like the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. 

While the goal was to create a free textbook option for the AGRON 635 course, the potential audience extends beyond the college classroom. The resources in this book are summarized for a general audience and are easy to read. Extension agents and agricultural educators could enhance their soil and water conservation programs using this comprehensive book to locate credible and up-to-date information.

Soil and Water Conservation: An Annotated Bibliography can be downloaded from the New Prairie Press website, It is available as a PDF, a web book, and e-book formats for Kindles and other electronic readers.


For more information, please contact:

Colby Moorberg, Assistant Professor of Soil Science

Tags:  soil conservation