Protecting the quality of our soils is as important as protecting the air we breathe and the water we drink. Protecting soil is critical to protecting our ecosystems and our ability to raise crops or maintain a backyard garden.
Soil quality can be a measure of soil productivity. Soil quality can also be linked to water quality.
Specifically, soil quality is “The capacity of soil to function within ecosystem boundaries to sustain biological productivity, maintain environmental quality, and promote plant and animal health.” (Doran, J.W. and T.B. Parkin. 1994. Defining and assessing soil quality. In: J.W. Doran et al. (eds.) Defining Soil Quality for a Sustainable Environment. Soil Science Society of America, Madison, WI, Special Publication 35, pp. 3-22.)
Soil quality focuses not just on characteristics such as nutrient availability and total organic matter levels, but also focuses on overall soil biological activity, organic matter content, water infiltration, and soil structure.
Protecting and enhancing soil quality is accomplished through the use of soil conservation efforts; Best Management Practices for fertilizers and pesticides; and the proper use, handling and storage of agricultural chemicals, fertilizers, manures and soil amendments.