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Developing soil health indicators for improved soil management on farm

Code: 9781801461962
Elizabeth Stockdale, NIAB, UK; Paul Hargreaves, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), UK; and Anne Bhogal, ADAS Gleadthorpe, UK

Chapter synopsis: A range of chemical, physical and biological processes are important for sustained productivity and environmental quality in agricultural systems. Farmers and scientists share a concern with soil health, and this leads to questions for both measurement and management. An essential step is to define the context and the key functions required of a soil at the scale of interest (e.g. farm, drinking water catchment, region). Only then can appropriate indicator measurements be selected. Current soil health frameworks across the world commonly use organic matter (carbon), pH, extractable phosphorus, and various indicators of soil structure/water storage. A framework of interpretation shows whether the measured values are acceptable or whether one or more soil functions are constrained. A number of the soil health frameworks in practical use present the soil health indicators in a scorecard using traffic light coding to direct users towards guidance for improved soil management on-farm.

DOI: 10.19103/AS.2020.0079.22
Table of contents 1 Introduction 2 Frameworks from policy and practice where soils are considered 3 Approaches to monitoring soil quality/health in agricultural systems 4 Case study: developing a practical and relevant soil health toolkit for UK agricultural soils 5 Conclusion and future trends 6 Where to look for further information 7 Acknowledgement 8 References

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