Soil Quality Attributes and Their Role in Sustainable Agriculture: A Review

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Weldemariam Seifu
Eyasu Elias


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. This definition of soil quality encompasses physical, chemical and biological characteristics, and it is related to fertility and soil health.  Soil quality, which can be viewed in two ways [1] as inherent properties of a soil and [2] as the dynamic nature of soils as influenced by climate, and human use and management, often is related to soil degradation, which can be defined as the time rate of change in soil quality. Soil quality should not be limited to soil productivity but should encompass environmental quality, human and animal health, and food safety and quality. In characterizing soil quality, biological properties have received less emphasis than chemical and physical properties, because their effects are difficult to measure, predict, or quantify particularly in developing countries like Ethiopia is totally ignored science of the soil department but is very important than the physical and chemical indicators. Improved soil quality often is indicated by increased infiltration, aeration, macropores, aggregate size, aggregate stability, and soil organic matter, and by decreased bulk density, soil resistance, erosion, and nutrient runoff. Ethiopia faces a wider set of soil fertility issues beyond chemical fertilizer use, which has historically been the major focus for extension workers, researchers, policymakers, and donors. The key soil level bottlenecks identified in various parts of Ethiopia are: Nutrient depletion (-122 (N), -13 (P) and  -82 (K) kgha-1yr-1, the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa), OM depletion(crop residue removal, intensive tillage, dung burning and  deforestation) , Biological deterioration (Loss of SOM and  decline in the biotic activity of soil fauna but the ignored part due to measurement facility), Chemical degradation (Salinity, sodicity, and  Acidity) and Physical land degradation (deterioration of soil structure, crusting, compaction, erosion, and desertification). Thus, in the way forward, ways of soil monitoring are in need on a reasonably regular basis, the quality of soils at all levels from global, through to continental, national, regional and landscape/ catchment areas is getting due attention through the SDG framework; SDG 15 specifically calls for halting and reversing land degradation by 2030. It is only in this way which shall be able to evaluate the sustainability of the use to which people are putting the land. In line with this in Ethiopia, responsible governmental bodies and stakeholders are working on priority areas for action to improve soil fertility.

Dynamic soil quality, inherent soil quality, soil function, soil health, soil indicator, sustainable agricultural.

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How to Cite
Seifu, W., & Elias, E. (2019). Soil Quality Attributes and Their Role in Sustainable Agriculture: A Review. International Journal of Plant & Soil Science, 26(3), 1-26.
Review Article