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Competency Area 4: Soil health and compaction

PO 27. Understand the concept of soil health, and know some indicators.

Soil health (also called 'soil quality') is "the capacity of a soil to function, within ecosystem and  land use boundaries to sustain biological productivity, maintain environmental quality and promote plant and animal health" (Doran and Parkin, 1994). Soil health is an aggregate concept affected by chemical, physical and biological factors.

Chemical indicators.

Total organic carbon, total organic nitrogen, pH, mineral N, available P, K.

Physical indicators.

Soil texture, depth of soil and rooting, soil bulk density and infiltration, water holding capacity, water retention, water content, soil temperature.

 Biological indicators.

Microbial biomass C and N, potentially mineralizable N, soil respiration, biomass C/biomass ratio.



Fertile topsoil (Clarion)

Photo courtesy of NRCS