Soil quality: An indicator of sustainable land management?

TitleSoil quality: An indicator of sustainable land management?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsHerrick JE
JournalApplied Soil Ecology
Date PublishedAugust 1, 2000
Accession NumberJRN00312
ARIS Log Number118791
Keywordsconstraints, indicator, land management, soil quality

Soil quality appears to be an ideal indicator of sustainable land management. Soil quality, by definition, reflects the capacity to sustain plant and animal productivity, maintain or enhance water and air quality, and promote plant and animal health. Few land managers have adopted soil quality as an indicator of sustainable land management. There are a number of constraints to adoption. Most could be overcome through a concerted effort by the research community. The following issues need to be addressed: 1) Demonstrate causal relationships between soil quality and ecosystem functions, including biodiversity conservation, biomass production and conservation of soil and water resources. 2) Increase the power of soil quality indicators to predict response to disturbance. Although there are many indicators that reflect the current capacity of a soil to function, there are few that can predict the capacity of the soil to continue to function under a range of disturbance regimes. 3) Increase accessibility of monitoring systems to land managers. 4) Integrate soil quality with other biophysical and socioeconomic indicators. 5) Place soil quality in a landscape context. In conclusion, soil quality is a necessary but not sufficient indicator of sustainable land management. Its value will continue to increase as limitations are diminished through collaboration between scientists, land managers and policy makers.