Useful Indicators To Test Soil Quality

Soil Quality Homehyme

When gardening, it is essential to have nutrient-rich, fertile soil in order to grow the best and healthiest plants—plants that will supply you with quality fruits, vegetables, and flowers.

Sometimes, soil loses its fertility (or has minimum fertility based on the region in which you live), and so measures must be taken to improve your soil and, subsequently, your garden.

Soil quality is an assessment of how well soil performs all of its functions now and how those functions are being preserved for future use. The quality of soil cannot just be determined by measuring row or garden yield, water quality, or any other single outcome, nor can it be measured directly.

Also Read:

Thus, it is important to look at specific indicators to better understand the properties of soil. Plants can provide us with clues about how well the soil is functioning—whether a plant is growing and producing quality fruits and vegetables or failing to yield such things is a good indicator of the quality of the soil it’s growing in.

Indicators are measurable properties of soil or plants that provide clues about how well the soil can function. Indicators can be physical, chemical, and biological properties, processes, or characteristics of soils. They can also be visual features of plants.

Useful indicators of soil quality:

  • are easy to measure
  • measure changes in soil functions
  • encompass chemical, biological, and physical properties
  • are accessible to many users
  • are sensitive to variations in climate and management Indicators can be assessed by qualitative or quantitative techniques, such as soil tests. After measurements are collected, they can be evaluated by looking for patterns and comparing results to measurements taken at a different time.

Examples of soil quality indicators:

1. Soil Organic Matter 

Promotes soil fertility, structure, stability, nutrient retention, and helps combat soil erosion.

2. Physical Indicators

These include soil structure, depth, infiltration and bulk density, and water hold capacity. Quality soil will retain and transport water and nutrients effectively; it will provide habitat for microbes; it will promote compaction and water movement; and, it will be porous and easy to work with. Good soil is usually dark, moist, and dense.

3. Chemical Indicators

These include pH, electrical conductivity, and extractable nutrients. Quality soil will be at its threshold for plant, microbial, biological, and chemical activity; it will also have plant nutrients that are readily available.

4. Biological Indicator

These include microbial biomass, mineralizable nitrogen, and soil respiration. Quality soil is a good repository for nitrogen and other basic nutrients for prosperous plant growth; it has a high soil productivity and nitrogen supply; and there is a good amount of microbial activity.

Leave a Reply