Submitted to: Soil Quality Workshop Conservation and Development Branch Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: January 31, 1998
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Soil quality assessment has been suggested as a tool for evaluating the sustainability of land resources and the management practices being imposed upon them in Alberta, Canada. But what is soil quality and how can it be evaluated? Objectives for this report are to review the concept, discuss techniques for assessing soil quality at various scales, and suggest methods for assessment at the Provincial scale. Simply stated, soil quality examines "how a soil is functioning" for a specific use such as producing crops or pasture, maintaining air and water quality, or recycling biosolids. Soil quality cannot be measured directly but must be evaluated by using indicators that are sensitive to changes in various soil properties or processes. Preliminary results at scales similar to those needed for Provincial evaluation indicate biological measurements were more responsive than organic carbon. Aggregate stability and a biomass carbon/total carbon ratio were also good indicators of soil quality. Assessment at the Provincial scale should be feasible and provide valuable information on the sustainability of soil resources in Alberta.