A functional evaluation of three indicator sets for assessing soil quality

Lima, A.C.R.; Brussaard, L.; Totola, M.R.; Hoogmoed, W.B.; Goede, R.G.M. de


Efforts to define and quantify soil quality are not new, but establishing consensus about a set of standardized indicators remains difficult. Also, the view of land managers is usually not taken into account when evaluating various sets of indicators. Our objective was to compare, in functional terms, soil quality assessments based on 29 indicators, a subset with 8 of those indicators, and 4 indicators selected independently by farmers, based on their perceptions of soil quality. The assessments were made for three different rice management systems in CamaquĆ£, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, on soils of four soil textural classes based on clay content (600 g kg-1). The effects of land management practices on soil functions (water infiltration, storage and supply; nutrient storage, supply and cycling; and sustained biological activity) were evaluated. Soil quality was best assessed using the entire set of 29 indicators, but use of smaller indicator sets showed the same trends among management systems, textural classes, and soil functions, thus providing meaningful information on soil quality for land managers.