U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version



Journal of the Indian Society of Soil Science, Vol. 56, No. 3, pp (2008).


Soil quality is a concept that is useful as an educational and assessment tool. A number of assessment tools have been developed including: the Soil Conditioning Index (SCI), the Soil Management Assessment Framework (SMAF), the AgroEcosystem Performance Assessment Tool (AEPAT), and the new Cornell “Soil Health Assessment”. The SMAF and AEPAT were developed as malleable tools for assessing soil response to management. The Cornell Assessment builds on the SMAF approach to score laboratory tests in terms of soil function. This paper updates efforts to improve availability and utility, implementation, and future research goals associated with the SMAF. Additional scoring curves have been developed for percentage water-filled pore space (%WFPS), soil test potassium (K), and β-glucosidase activity. A web-based version of the SMAF is available. The SMAF has been implemented as part of the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP). Combining the SMAF and a CEAP survey approach appears to be a successful method for identifying soil quality risks at the watershed scale. Future plans include developing approaches for using the SMAF for model output and in spatially variable fields as well as adapting the SMAF for wide use by soil testing laboratories.