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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Karlen, Douglas - Doug

Submitted to: Soil & Tillage Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/2/2004
Publication Date: 8/1/2004
Citation: Karlen, D.L. 2004. Soil quality as an indicator of sustainable tillage practices. Soil & Tillage Research. 78:129-130.

Interpretive Summary: This article provides an introduction and brief overview of ten manuscripts addressing the interactive effects of tillage and soil quality. Papers from Canada, Croatia, Hungary, Portugal, Switzerland, and the USA are included. Collectively, the manuscripts show that many important soil quality indicators and functions can be improved by decreasing tillage intensity, but changing the culture of agriculture with regard to tillage is and will probably remain a very slow process. Continued development of the soil quality concept, however, will hopefully be a useful and effective tool for assisting with that change.

Technical Abstract: The concept of soil quality was introduced more than 30 years ago, but has undergone its most rapid evolution and adoption during the past decade. This collection of papers from Europe and North America examines the interactions between tillage and soil quality. Collectively, the papers review how tillage affects soil organic carbon, erosion, compaction, earthworms, water retention characteristics, and other properties and processes often used as indicators of soil quality. The papers show significant progress toward identifying appropriate soil quality indicators and assessment methods. It is concluded that with continued development and use, the soil quality concept will help encourage land managers to use less intensive tillage practices.

Last Modified: 10/18/2017
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