Soil Health Quiz Menu

  1. Introduction
  2. How to Use the Soil Health Quiz
  3. Soil Health Quiz
  4. Interpreting the Soil Health Quiz - Coming Soon!
  5. Other Methods to Assess Soil Health

Introduction

Soil health and soil quality are two terms that are often used interchangeably. Both are used to refer to an assessment of how well a soil performs or responds to all its functions. The inherent health of a soil is a function of:

  • The soil itself, its mineral and organic sources and location
  • The management of the soil.

Soil health is dynamic. Soil is a living system and constantly changing with time, conditions and management.

The goal of this Soil Health Quiz is to examine the health of your soil and document the level of health over time. This allows you to track the impact of your management practices as you work to protect and improve the agricultural productivity.

Crops grow better and more uniform in a healthy soil.

Figure 1. Crops grow better and more uniform in a healthy soil.

Roots, water and air move better through a well aggregated soil.

Figure 2. Roots, water and air move better through a well aggregated soil.

Eroded knolls caused by tillage erosion.

Figure 3. Eroded knolls caused by tillage erosion.

How to Use the Soil Health Quiz

Steps to Follow

  1. Print the form that follows. You will need a pencil, a knife, a shovel & a recent soil test to complete the quiz.
  2. Use Table 1 Best Times to Assess Indicators to determine when to assess each soil health indicator.
  3. Divide your farm & fields into separate sections for evaluation in the same way you would divide them for soil fertility sampling: separate by factors such as soil type, topography, and history of tillage, crop rotation & manure application.
  4. Enter the Date & Field Identification information at the top of the form.
  5. Select 2-3 representative spots in your field & evaluate each soil Indicator.
  6. Read the Descriptive Ratings in the rectangular boxes, and based on your judgement rate the indicator Good, Fair, or Poor by checking the small square in the box with the best description.
  7. In the Notes section following each group of soil health indicators, record any observations or soil conditions that will help you review & evaluate your ratings.
  8. "Interpreting the Soil Health Quiz"... coming soon!
  9. Follow changes in each of the soil health indicators over time, examine current field management practices, and explore options & consider alternatives for management changes in problem areas.

Other Methods to Assess Soil Health

Soil Health Quiz

This Soil Health Quiz (adopted for Ontario) is a basic field use assessment of soil health and quality, requiring simple observation of the soil properties in the field.

There are a series of Soil Health Quizzes and Cards that have been developed in a variety of locations across North America. They have been developed to represent a specific geographical area and may not translate to other areas well.

You can take a look at some of these at the US Natural Resources Conservation Service Soil Quality Institute website click here.


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: Adam Hayes - Soil Management Specialist/OMAFRA
Creation Date: 02 October 2014
Last Reviewed: 02 October 2014