Soil Quality

Authored by: Stephanie A. Ewing , Michael J. Singer

Handbook of Soil Sciences Resource Management and Environmental Impacts

Print publication date:  November  2011
Online publication date:  November  2011

Print ISBN: 9781439803073
eBook ISBN: 9781439803080
Adobe ISBN:


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Soils are fundamental to the well-being and productivity of agricultural and natural ecosystems. The concept of soil quality was developed to characterize the usefulness and health of soils as a means of evaluating sustainable soil management practices. The concept has been applied throughout the world for a multitude of purposes (e.g., Lamarca, 1996; Ouedraogo et al., 2001; Shepherd et al., 2001; Tian and Feng, 2008). Recent reviews have emphasized the importance and success of the concept for sustainable agriculture and ecological management (Karlen et al., 2001; Wienhold et al., 2004; Kibblewhite et al., 2008), while others have critiqued the concept as counterproductive to the goals of soil science and the challenges of modern agriculture (Sojka and Upchurch, 1999; Singer and Sojka, 2001; Letey et al., 2003; Sanchez et al., 2003; Sojka et al., 2003). This chapter summarizes recent literature on the soil quality concept and touches upon some of the larger issues raised in the course of its discussion.

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