Assessing soil health using an integrated approach

A soil health scorecard aims to provide information on key indicators of the nutrient status, physical and biological condition of soil, to help guide soil and crop management decisions.

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An integrated approach to soil health measurement 

Productive crops need soils to be maintained in a suitable state that provides optimal soil structure, water retention and nutrient availability.

The physical, chemical, and biological properties of soil interact to deliver these functions.

Therefore, measuring soil health requires an integrated approach that combines the assessment of the chemical (nutrients, pH), physical (structure) and biological properties of soil.

An integrated soil health check should be done on a rotational basis to measure and monitor the impact of soil management practices.

A sampling protocol for soil health may be different to sampling for nutrient management planning alone.

Use the soil health scorecard

The soil health scorecard provides a framework to monitor soil health on a rotational basis.

The Excel-based tool uses soil analysis results for core soil health indicators and compares them to typical ranges for UK soil types and climate regions (benchmarks).

A completed scorecard automatically produces a 'traffic-light' snapshot of soil health to guide your management decisions.

Access the soil health scorecard

On-farm monitoring of soil health

The soil health scorecard approach has been tested on-farm for those soil properties where an evaluation framework is established.

Read about on-farm testing of the soil health scorecard

Testing the effect of organic material additions on soil health

The soil health scorecard has been tested at a series of long-term experimental sites exploring the key drivers of soil biology. Find out about how organic materials – a food source for soil biology – affect soil health.

View the soil health scorecard for different organic amendments at long-term trial sites

Testing the effect of pH on soil health

Soil pH can alter the chemical environment. Find out how this affects soil health, with results visualised on a soil health scorecard.

Read about the impact of pH on soil health

Testing the long-term effect of fertilisers on soil health

The use of fertilisers affects soil chemical (e.g. availability of nutrients) and biological (e.g. microbial activity) properties and thus soil health.

Find out the impact of fertilisers on soil properties at a long-term research site