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What is Soil Health? 


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Soil health refers to the capacity of the soil to support various functions that are essential for both planetary and human health. It involves the ability of the soil to provide nutrients, regulate carbon and water cycles, support biodiversity, and sustain crop growth without degradation. Soil health is influenced by factors such as soil organic matter, microbial activity, biodiversity, and physical and chemical properties of the soil. Improving soil health can lead to increased productivity, nutrient and water use efficiency, and resilience to stress in plants. However, soil health is currently under threat due to various factors including intensive agriculture, climate change, erosion, contamination, and nutrient depletion. Therefore, it is important to adopt sustainable agricultural practices that not only improve soil quality and fertility but also restore the soil food web, enhance carbon sequestration, improve water holding capacity, and reduce soil-borne pest outbreaks.

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Soil health is defined as the soil's capacity to support crop growth without becoming degraded. (Answer found in the paper)
Soil health refers to the capacity of the soil to support various organisms and exchange matter and energy with the environment, which can be measured by indicators such as humus levels, soil respiration, and microbial activity.
Journal ArticleDOI
Soil health is a holistic concept that encompasses the physical, chemical, and biological properties of the soil. It is important for planetary health and can be improved by introducing cover crops.
The paper provides a definition of healthy soil as a soil that is multifunctional and capable of supporting both human and planetary health.

Related Questions

How to assess soil health?4 answersSoil health assessment involves the evaluation of various indicators to determine the overall health of the soil. These indicators can include chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of the soil. One approach is to establish a minimum data set (MDS) of important indicators that represent soil health. This can be achieved through techniques such as principal component analysis (PCA), cluster analysis, and expert opinion (EO) methods. Another method involves the use of process-based modeling to assess multiple potential soil-based ecosystem services, such as food provision, nutrient and pollutants retention, water regulation, and microclimate regulation. Additionally, electrical and electromagnetic techniques can be used to measure the electrical and electromagnetic properties of the soil, which are directly linked to soil health. Microbiological indicators can also be used to assess soil health, allowing for the quantitative characterization of the functional potential of the microbial system. Finally, structural equation modeling (SEM) can be utilized to develop a scoring function that captures the concept of soil health and adjusts scores based on inherent soil properties and land use history.
What do farmers think of soil health?4 answersFarmers generally have a favorable view of soil health and recognize its importance in agricultural resilience and mitigating climate risks. They perceive soil health as a dynamic system, with a focus on its biological component, and associate it with benefits such as improved production, erosion control, and increased organic matter. Some farmers may have uncertainties about soil health due to over-zealous messaging or lack of evidence for the return on investment of soil health practices. However, many farmers view soil health management as a "win-win" approach that combines production and sustainability benefits. Farmers also believe that their management choices contribute to positive soil health outcomes, even if they employ practices that do not align with scientifically documented approaches. To promote better soil health outcomes, it is important to engage farmers by tailoring outreach and communication strategies to align with their perspectives and language.
What are the inherent level effects on soil health indicators?5 answersInherent factors such as soil type and texture, as well as experimental factors like study duration and sampling depth, have an impact on soil health indicators. In the study conducted in Ternate City, the level of soil health on vegetable farms under clove plantations was found to be medium to high. In Wisconsin, inherent factors like texture class and drainage class were important in determining the capacity of soil to achieve high soil health values. The effects of vermicompost, soil moisture, and soil temperature on soil physico-chemical properties and nutrient availability were also observed in a field experiment. Understanding the effects of management on soil health is crucial for implementing new agricultural practices.
What is the role of microbes in soil health?5 answersMicrobes play a crucial role in soil health by contributing to nutrient cycling, disease suppression, and plant growth promotion. They stimulate plant growth, reduce diseases, and enhance nutrient availability and uptake. Microbes also improve soil health by promoting organic matter turnover, nutrient transfer, and soil structure improvement. They help in maintaining ecosystems, facilitating nutrient and organic matter cycling, and regulating physiological processes within the soil. Additionally, microbes act as biocontrol agents, controlling plant diseases and pest infestations. The use of microbes, along with organic growth enhancers, can revolutionize soil health and structure. Overall, microbes are essential components of the soil ecosystem and are crucial for sustainable agriculture production, soil fertility, and the health of all living organisms.
What is soil health theory?3 answersSoil health theory refers to the concept of understanding and assessing the health of soil ecosystems. It involves evaluating the physical, chemical, and biological properties of soil and their interconnectedness within the soil matrix. The term "soil health" has gained attention in various sectors, including government and land managers, but its quantifiability and measurability have been questioned. Some argue that soil health should focus on the relationships between components, complexity, and function, rather than trying to quantify it as a single figure. Soil health is important for sustainable management of global soil resources and can be indirectly assessed through indicators such as soil respiration, microbial activity, and biodiversity. The preservation or increase of soil health attributes, such as biodiversity and soil organic carbon, can lead to greater plant growth, yield, water and nutrient use efficiency, and higher nutritional quality of crops.
What are the main effects of soil contamination on human health?4 answersSoil contamination can have various effects on human health. The concentration of certain elements and organic compounds in soil can lead to their transfer to local food chains and subsequent biological reactions, resulting in serious health problems. Some of the health issues associated with soil contamination include diseases such as goitre, fluorosis, selenosis, cancer, and others. Additionally, the contamination of soil with toxic and heavy metals can have adverse effects on human health, including potential accumulation risks through the food chain. The presence of these contaminants in soil can also contaminate groundwater, leading to further health risks. Overall, soil contamination poses a significant threat to human health and necessitates the establishment of optimal levels for population health and the evaluation of spatial distribution of soil chemicals.

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