Soil quality: key for sustainable production


In the last few years several definitions of “soil quality” have been advanced, but among them the most appreciated is “the ability of soils to interact with the ecosystem in order to maintain the biological productivity, the environmental quality and to promote animal and vegetal health” as defined by Doran and Parkin in 1994. Many researchers place more emphasis on its conceptual meaning for land planning and farm management, while others consider that definition to be worth nothing in order to understand soil properties and the concept of soil quality looks like the concept of “to be suitable for”. For this reason a definition of “soil use” is needed. The food quality is characterized by several properties: the healthiness and the nutritional value, the amount of the production, the typicalness and organoleptic properties, etc.. A lot of these properties depend on environmental quality and, in particular, on soil quality. In fact soil represents the natural substrate for growth and productivity of most of the plants that live on the Hearth because they get all the essential nutritional elements from it for their own development; consequently each nutritional element present into the soil as bioavailable form for the plants is potentially destined to entry in the animal (and human) food chain. In the quality process of food productive process it will be important to assure the best soil quality as possible, without any unwanted element (which will not be discussed in this note) and with the right amount of fertility elements in order to guarantee the best production. In this paper the relationships between soil quality, soil biodiversity and crop sustainability will be discussed. Finally the concept of soil “biota” as nodal point for the environment regulation and the application of the indicators for soil quality will be discussed.


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indicators of soil quality, production sustainability, soil biota, soil quality, soil biodiversity.
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How to Cite
Benedetti, A., & Mocali, S. (2009). Soil quality: key for sustainable production. Italian Journal of Agronomy, 4(1s), 13-22.