A framework for assessing agricultural soil quality on a global scale

L Mueller, U Schindler, TG Shepherd, BC Ball, E Smolentseva, C Hu, V Hennings, P Schad, J Rogasik, J Zeitz, SL Schindelwein, A Behrendt, K Helming, F Eulenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


This paper provides information about a novel approach of rating agricultural soil quality (SQ) and crop yield potentials consistently over a range of spatial scales. The Muencheberg Soil Quality Rating is an indicator-based straightforward overall assessment method of agricultural SQ. It is a framework covering aspects of soil texture, structure, topography and climate which is based on 8 basic indicators and more than 12 hazard indicators. Ratings are performed by visual methods of soil evaluation. A field manual is then used to provide ratings from tables based on indicator thresholds. Finally, overall rating scores are given, ranging from 0 (worst) to 100 (best) to characterise crop yield potentials. The current approach is valid for grassland and cropland. Field tests in several countries confirmed the practicability and reliability of the method. At field scale, soil structure is a crucial, management induced criterion of agricultural SQ. At the global scale, climate controlled hazard indicators of drought risk and soil thermal regime are crucial for SQ and crop yield potentials. Final rating scores are well correlated with crop yields. We conclude that this system could be evolved for ranking and controlling agricultural SQ on a global scale.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S76 - S82
JournalArchives of Agronomy and Soil Science
Publication statusPrint publication - 2012

Bibliographical note



  • Indicators
  • Muencheberg Soil Quality Rating
  • Soil quality


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