Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Agronomy, Horticulture, and Plant Science

First Advisor

David E. Clay


Soil health is influenced by climate change, cultural practices, topography, crop rotations, cover crops, soil parent materials, and soil biota. Interactions between these factors can improve or reduce soil health. This thesis investigates two topics, using soil sensors to provide a rapid assessment of soil health, and the impact of cover crops on soil biological activity and greenhouse gas emissions. Chapter 1 explores the use of two types of sensors to measure apparent electrical conductivity (ECa) and provides examples on the use of these sensors. Even though both sensors measure ECa using different processes, they provide useful information about temporal and spatial changes in soil health. Chapter 2 explores the use of cover crops to improve environmental health and reduce CH4 emissions. Prior research shows that cover crops impact both carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions. However, missing from this analysis was their effect on methane emissions. Therefore, chapter 2 assessed the impact of dormant seeded rye on methane emission and the carbon dioxide equivalence prior to termination. These results showed that rye as a cover crop reduced soil methane emission in the range of -1.21 to -9.25 g CH4-C (ha×d)-1.


South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright