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Reservations regarding the soil quality concept

Reservaciones Concerniendo el Concepto de la Calidad del Suelo

Sojka, R.E. and Upchurch, D.R. (1999) Reservations regarding the soil quality concept. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 63:1039-1054.


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We consider the appropriateness of institutionalizing soil quality as a defined parameter in soil science. The soil management research of land grant universities and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the mission and goals of state, federal, and private conservation agencies stand to be significantly affected. We feel that a non-advocative examination of this concept could provide a positive contribution. The definition of soil quality has proven elusive and value laden. There is concern by some that the concept has developed arbitrary policy overtones. Our reservations stem from concerns regarding premature acceptance and institutionalization of an incompletely formulated and largely untested paradigm, potential unintended negative outcomes, promotion of a narrowly defined environmental policy in a context normally associated with value-neutral science, and taxonomic and/or regional bias in establishing the paradigm. To date, soil quality assessments have drawn from a relatively narrow crop production and ecological perspective to positively or negatively weight soil quality assessment factors. Although the soil quality paradigm acknowledges multi-defined soil functions, it has yet to operationally recognize and integrate the simultaneity of diverse and often conflicting functions and soil property requirements. Thus, we are attempting to articulate the concerns of many of our colleagues who are reluctant to endorse redefining the soil science paradigm away from the value-neutral tradition of edaphology and specific problem solving to a paradigm based on variable, and often subjective societal perceptions of environmental holism. Traditionally, it has been the soil science profession's role to perform the science to enable resource management policy and problem solving, not to establish relational-based value systems within the science. We suggest emphasizing quality soil management rather than soil quality management as a professional and scientific goal.

Item Type: Article
NWISRL Publication Number: 0998
Subjects: Soil > Soil quality
Mass Import - autoclassified (may be erroneous)
Depositing User: Dan Stieneke
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2010 21:54
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2016 17:50
Item ID: 718

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