Relating visual evaluation of soil structure to other physical properties in soils of contrasting texture and management

RML Guimaraes, BC Ball, CA Tormena, NFB Giarola, AP Da Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The sustainability of agricultural systems depends on the evaluation and monitoring of soil use and tillage in order to mitigate soil degradation. The visual evaluation of soil structure (VESS) was developed to provide a quick, simple and easily understood test to enable researchers, farmers and consultants to score soil quality. In this paper we test the hypothesis that soil structural quality, as specified by VESS (Sq), is sensitive enough to identify differences in structure, resulting from soil management, in and between layers of topsoil. The Sq score ranges from 1 (good) to 5 (poor soil structure). Improvements have already been made to this method, but we wished to test the validity of Sq results compared with other indicators of soil physical quality. Our aims were (1) to evaluate the usefulness of VESS to compare layering of topsoil structure under different soil management and (2) to identify which soil physical properties Sq most closely relates to. We chose to work on soils of contrasting texture in response to criticism that the test works well only on medium-textured soils. In our first experiment, we assessed Scottish soil from native forest that had never been cropped and from arable soils just after harvest so where there was a visible difference between soil tracked or not tracked during harvesting operations. Soil qualities measured were soil resistance to penetration (SR), bulk density (Bd) and air permeability (Ka). In our second experiment we compared the least limiting water range (LLWR) with VESS in a Brazilian Oxisol under no-tillage. VESS showed the differences between the treatments and layers of topsoil. Sq increased with SR and Bd but decreased with air permeability. Results for LLWR showed that for Sq 3.5, the LLWR was zero, indicating soil physical condition highly restrictive to plants. Harvest is a time of significant soil compaction and the VESS test detected compaction even where it was not visible at the surface and as such may prove useful in diagnosing and remediating compaction and assessing suitability for minimum tillage. 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92 - 99
Number of pages8
JournalSoil and Tillage Research
Volume127
Publication statusFirst published - 2013

Fingerprint

soil management
soil physical properties
soil texture
soil structure
soil
topsoil
testing
bulk density
soil quality
permeability
air
minimum tillage
consultants
resistance to penetration
water
soil degradation
Oxisols
soil compaction
arable soils
no-tillage

Bibliographical note

1023321

Keywords

  • Soil quality
  • Soil structure
  • Visual analysis

Cite this

Guimaraes, RML., Ball, BC., Tormena, CA., Giarola, NFB., & Da Silva, AP. (2013). Relating visual evaluation of soil structure to other physical properties in soils of contrasting texture and management. Soil and Tillage Research, 127, 92 - 99.
Guimaraes, RML ; Ball, BC ; Tormena, CA ; Giarola, NFB ; Da Silva, AP. / Relating visual evaluation of soil structure to other physical properties in soils of contrasting texture and management. In: Soil and Tillage Research. 2013 ; Vol. 127. pp. 92 - 99.
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Guimaraes, RML, Ball, BC, Tormena, CA, Giarola, NFB & Da Silva, AP 2013, 'Relating visual evaluation of soil structure to other physical properties in soils of contrasting texture and management', Soil and Tillage Research, vol. 127, pp. 92 - 99.

Relating visual evaluation of soil structure to other physical properties in soils of contrasting texture and management. / Guimaraes, RML; Ball, BC; Tormena, CA; Giarola, NFB; Da Silva, AP.

In: Soil and Tillage Research, Vol. 127, 2013, p. 92 - 99.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Relating visual evaluation of soil structure to other physical properties in soils of contrasting texture and management

AU - Guimaraes, RML

AU - Ball, BC

AU - Tormena, CA

AU - Giarola, NFB

AU - Da Silva, AP

N1 - 1023321

PY - 2013

Y1 - 2013

N2 - The sustainability of agricultural systems depends on the evaluation and monitoring of soil use and tillage in order to mitigate soil degradation. The visual evaluation of soil structure (VESS) was developed to provide a quick, simple and easily understood test to enable researchers, farmers and consultants to score soil quality. In this paper we test the hypothesis that soil structural quality, as specified by VESS (Sq), is sensitive enough to identify differences in structure, resulting from soil management, in and between layers of topsoil. The Sq score ranges from 1 (good) to 5 (poor soil structure). Improvements have already been made to this method, but we wished to test the validity of Sq results compared with other indicators of soil physical quality. Our aims were (1) to evaluate the usefulness of VESS to compare layering of topsoil structure under different soil management and (2) to identify which soil physical properties Sq most closely relates to. We chose to work on soils of contrasting texture in response to criticism that the test works well only on medium-textured soils. In our first experiment, we assessed Scottish soil from native forest that had never been cropped and from arable soils just after harvest so where there was a visible difference between soil tracked or not tracked during harvesting operations. Soil qualities measured were soil resistance to penetration (SR), bulk density (Bd) and air permeability (Ka). In our second experiment we compared the least limiting water range (LLWR) with VESS in a Brazilian Oxisol under no-tillage. VESS showed the differences between the treatments and layers of topsoil. Sq increased with SR and Bd but decreased with air permeability. Results for LLWR showed that for Sq 3.5, the LLWR was zero, indicating soil physical condition highly restrictive to plants. Harvest is a time of significant soil compaction and the VESS test detected compaction even where it was not visible at the surface and as such may prove useful in diagnosing and remediating compaction and assessing suitability for minimum tillage. 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

AB - The sustainability of agricultural systems depends on the evaluation and monitoring of soil use and tillage in order to mitigate soil degradation. The visual evaluation of soil structure (VESS) was developed to provide a quick, simple and easily understood test to enable researchers, farmers and consultants to score soil quality. In this paper we test the hypothesis that soil structural quality, as specified by VESS (Sq), is sensitive enough to identify differences in structure, resulting from soil management, in and between layers of topsoil. The Sq score ranges from 1 (good) to 5 (poor soil structure). Improvements have already been made to this method, but we wished to test the validity of Sq results compared with other indicators of soil physical quality. Our aims were (1) to evaluate the usefulness of VESS to compare layering of topsoil structure under different soil management and (2) to identify which soil physical properties Sq most closely relates to. We chose to work on soils of contrasting texture in response to criticism that the test works well only on medium-textured soils. In our first experiment, we assessed Scottish soil from native forest that had never been cropped and from arable soils just after harvest so where there was a visible difference between soil tracked or not tracked during harvesting operations. Soil qualities measured were soil resistance to penetration (SR), bulk density (Bd) and air permeability (Ka). In our second experiment we compared the least limiting water range (LLWR) with VESS in a Brazilian Oxisol under no-tillage. VESS showed the differences between the treatments and layers of topsoil. Sq increased with SR and Bd but decreased with air permeability. Results for LLWR showed that for Sq 3.5, the LLWR was zero, indicating soil physical condition highly restrictive to plants. Harvest is a time of significant soil compaction and the VESS test detected compaction even where it was not visible at the surface and as such may prove useful in diagnosing and remediating compaction and assessing suitability for minimum tillage. 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

KW - Soil quality

KW - Soil structure

KW - Visual analysis

M3 - Article

VL - 127

SP - 92

EP - 99

JO - Soil and Tillage Research

JF - Soil and Tillage Research

SN - 0167-1987

ER -