Soil quality is a measure of the condition of soil relative to the requirements of one or more biotic species and or to any human need or purpose. According to the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, "Soil quality is the capacity of a specific kind of soil to function, within natural or managed ecosystem boundaries, to sustain plant and animal productivity, maintain or enhance water and air quality, and support human health and habitation. The European Commission's Joint Research Centre proposed a definition, stating that "Soil quality is an account of the soil's ability to provide ecosystem and social services through its capacities to perform its functions under changing conditions."
Soil quality reflects how well a soil performs the functions of maintaining biodiversity and productivity, partitioning water and solute flow, filtering and buffering, nutrient cycling, and providing support for plants and other structures. Soil management has a major impact on soil quality.
Soil quality relates to soil functions. Unlike water or air, for which established standards have been set, soil quality is difficult to define or quantify. Soil quality can be evaluated using the Soil Management Assessment Framework.
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- Cherubin, Maurício Roberto; Tormena, Cássio Antônio; Karlen, Douglas L.; Cherubin, Maurício Roberto; Tormena, Cássio Antônio; Karlen, Douglas L. (2017). "Soil Quality Evaluation Using the Soil Management Assessment Framework (SMAF) in Brazilian Oxisols with Contrasting Texture". Revista Brasileira de Ciência do Solo. 41. doi:10.1590/18069657rbcs20160148. ISSN 0100-0683.