DUS(Soil)—A Framework for Developing a Minimum Data Set of Soil Health Indicators and Management Guidelines for Farmers

  •  P. M. Govindakrishnan    
  •  A. N. Ganeshamurthy    
  •  N. K. Krishna Kumar    
  •  F. Beggi    
  •  S. Bhaskar    
  •  J. C. Rana    


Soil health information is still not widely used in decision making in agriculture. One of the reasons is the lack of a simple and effective method for selection of soil health indicators that have direct relevance to management decisions. A framework for soil health indicators selection and developing location-specific management practices that improve soil health are presented. The framework involves selection of a minimum data set of soil health indicators based on ‘DUS(Soil)’ criteria. In this framework ‘D’ represents Distinctness (indicators representing distinct functional soil processes), ‘U’ represents Utility (amenability for amelioration of the status of the indicator or altering its impact through management practices) and ‘S’ represents Simplicity (amenability for measurement in the field/small laboratories using simple protocols). This study also outlines a method for developing management guidelines for farmers based on the status of the selected soil health indicators. This involved classifying the status of each of the indicators into three classes. Thereafter, taking cognizance of the agroecological context, suitable field management schedules were developed for each class of the indicators, based on literature and local expert knowledge. The use of this framework was demonstrated by developing management guidelines for a coarse textured soil with optimum pH, low soil carbon, poor in water stable aggregates (highly slaking), optimum porosity and poor in soil macro fauna in Mandla district, Madhya Pradesh, India. The study showed that the framework is flexible, generic as well as simple and is useful to develop site-specific management guidelines logically, to overcome the soil quality constraints.

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