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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Development of a Soil Quality Index

Authors
item Smith, Jeffrey
item Papendick, Robert
item Halvorson, Jonathan - BATTELLE PACIFIC NW

Submitted to: Kyusei Nature Farming International Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: October 5, 1993
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Soil quality is the key to sustainable agriculture. If chemical, physical or biological components of soil degrade then soil quality declines and agricultural production is not sustainable. Soil quality can be defined in different ways, including agricultural productivity and sustainability, environmental quality or in terms of human nutrition. Specific indicators of soil quality need to be identified, quantified and acceptable limits defined. We have developed a method to integrate multiple variables, such as those defining soil quality, into an index to produce soil quality maps on a landscape basis. The key to this procedure is choosing critical values for each soil quality parameter and defining the number of parameters that must be acceptable for soil to be designated as "good quality". The method is flexible enough to compare soils of different regions or simply to evaluate different management practices or soil treatments.

Technical Abstract: Soil quality is the key to sustainable agriculture. If chemical, physical or biological components of soil degrade then soil quality declines and agricultural production is not sustainable. Soil quality can be defined in different ways, including agricultural productivity and sustainability, environmental quality or in terms of human nutrition. Specific indicators of soil quality need to be identified, quantified and acceptable limits defined. We have developed a method to integrate multiple variables, such as those defining soil quality, into an index to produce soil quality maps on a landscape basis. The key to this procedure is choosing critical values for each soil quality parameter and defining the number of parameters that must be acceptable for soil to be designated as "good quality". The method is flexible enough to compare soils of different regions or simply to evaluate different management practices or soil treatments.

Last Modified: 11/26/2014
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