February 3, 2020
Moorberg publishes open textbook on soil and water conservation
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 agronomy department. 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 each fall semester.
The goal for the book was to create a cost-free textbook option for the AGRON 635 course that also teaches students to seek out credible and freely available information sources on soil and water conservation. Moorberg was already aware of the wealth of credible resources available in the form of extension bulletins, government reports and other information sources. This textbook is the culmination of his idea to leverage these resources and add context through annotations.
As an annotated bibliography, the book provides full citations and website links to the resources. Each citation is followed by an annotation that summarizes the resource and provides context. While the concept of an annotated bibliography is not new, using an annotated bibliography to replace a textbook is a new model for developing open educational resources and open textbooks. Such a model 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.
Open textbooks used at K-State saved students more than $1.575 million total in FY19, according to New Prairie Press. "Soil and Water Conservation: An Annotated Bibliography" will save each student in AGRON 635 approximately $116 compared to a new copy of the previously required textbook.
Funding for the book was provided by the K-State Open and Alternative Textbook Initiative.
This is Moorberg's second open textbook. The first was the "Soils Laboratory Manual," which was also published by New Prairie Press. The "Soils Laboratory Manual" has saved K-State students more than $88,000 cumulatively since 2015.
"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 Kindle and other e-readers.