Submitted to: Proceedings of Soil Quality: A Guide for Conservation
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: July 25, 1996
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: The process of evaluating various soils is not new, but an emphasis on the concept of "soil quality" as a process to integrate biological, chemical, and physical characteristics has evolved during the past five years. The objective for this chapter is to review the research activities associated with this evolution. The most simple definition for soil quality can be viewed as "its capacity to function". This paper and presentation stress that the concept of soil quality emphasizes that soil is a dynamic, living, natural body that plays many key roles in terrestrial ecosystems. It emphasizes for soil and crop consultants, land managers, and action-agency personnel that soil quality cannot be measured directly, but that site-specific evaluations of important indicators are needed to determine how well various soil functions are being carried out. The presentation emphasizes that consultants can help make landowners and operators more aware of the indicators that show degrading soil quality, and to help them develop site-specific management plans. The importance of record keeping, developing yield maps, and roles for tools such as global positioning systems (GPS) and geographic information systems (GIS) are discussed.