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Screening Soil Quality Indicators for Rice Based Cropping System

Nirmalendu Basaka,b,c, Ashim Dattaa,b, Bhaskar Narjaryb, Poojad and Biswapati Mandala
A

Directorate of Research, Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya, Kalyani 741 235, West
Bengal, India. BPresent address: ICAR Central Soil Salinity Research Institute, Karnal 132 001,
Haryana, India, dRegional Research Centre, ICAR-Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Karnal 132 001,
Haryana, India.
C

Corresponding author Email: basaknirmalendu@gmail.com

Abstract
Soil performs ecological services for the survival and nourishment of life in the planet. So,
maintaining and up keeping of soil quality has paramount importance for sustainability and
posterity of ecosystem. Rice is the main staple food for energy and protein supply in Southeast
Asia. Soils under rice systems are different from other arable systems because rice is grown
under submergence, and this may require a different set of key soil attributes for maintenances of
quality and productivity. So, we synthesized data from different rice-based cropping system of
world to identifying key soil indicators. Soil organic matter was screened as key indicators for
assessment of soil quality for soils irrespective of country where rice-based cropping system
have been continuing
Introduction
Soil is the largest terrestrial ecosystem of the Globe. Soil perform a large numbers of ecological
functions viz., nutrient cycling, medium for physical support to plant growth, water relation,
resistance and resilience of ecological services, environmental protection, filtering-buffering and
conserving biodiversity and gene pool etc. Intensive cropping, repeated tillage, removal of crop
residue, use of agrochemicals and monoculture, supply of inadequate/ sub-optimal/ no organic
amendments, non existence of legume in crop cycling, poor drainage, frequent and random
traffic load endanger soil with a widespread problems viz., nutrient and organic matter depletion,
biological degradation and loss in soil biodiversity, soil wetness, structural decline and formation
of hard pan in surface and subsurface soil layer, soil erosion and its loss. These factors ultimately

manifests to decline in productivity of crops even under best possible management practices and
make soil less responsive in response to adapt interventions and/or package of practices.
Soil quality and soil quality indicator
Soil quality is the capacity of the soil to function or its fitness for use. Broadly it is explained
as the capacity of soils within ecosystem boundaries to sustain biological productivity, maintain
environment quality, and promote plant and human health. Addressing soil quality is not simple
rather than a complex, costly and experts judgment approach etc. A wide variety of physical,
chemical, and biological properties, processes, or characteristics of soils are measure to address
soil functions. Soil quality is a concept that deals with the integration and optimization of the
physical, chemical and biological properties of soil for diagnoses ecological functions of soils.
Ecologists grouped soil properties into three broad categories viz., physical, chemical, and
biological. Among these soil attributes some are emphasized as soil quality indicators those
have potentiality to express soil properties and process and those have greatest sensitivity to
change in soil functions or correlate well with natural processes in the ecosystem (Andrews et
al., 2004). The researchers have screened soil quality indicators with followings criteria in
consideration:
Representative of soil function
Sensitive to change management practices, ecosystem function
Easily measured
Reliable
Accessible to users
Applicable to field condition
Procedure to assess soil quality
We already addressed that soil quality is complex to express. So, expression of soil quality is not
simple and user friendly rather than complex, systematic and a researchable issues. A number of
mathematical, statistical methodology and experts judgments are usually adopted for screening
soil quality indicators. Researchers from the Western countries have adopted statistical tools viz.,
principle component analysis (Andrews et al., 2002), soil management assessment framework
(Andrews et al., 2004) and discriminate analysis (Lima et al., 2008) for screening soil quality

indicators. The results of statistical findings finally fine-tune through experts opinion before
representing any screened indicators for a definite agro-ecosystems. The cumulative values of
indicators expresses into a unit less additive values of scale through transformation by using a
linear scoring method, or the indicators scores thus obtained for each observation were
multiplied with the weighted factor obtained from the statistical results (principle component
analysis/ discriminate analysis, PCA/DA). Each PC/DA explained a certain amount per cent of
the variation in the total dataset. These percentage, when divided by the total percentage of
variation explained by all the PC/DAs with eighen vectors >1, gave the weighted factors for
indicators chosen under a given PC/DA. The schematic representations of soil quality assessment
are described in Fig 1 and 2.

Attributes
adopted
from
Experts opinion
Pedotransfer
Regressio
n analysis

Physical, chemical and


biological soil attributes
Indicator selection for minimum
data set
(MDS) weight and
Indicator
Indicatorscoring
integration in SQI
Validation of SHI with
definite goal variable
Simplified
expression of SQI

Statistical
tools:
PCA, DA,
Critical
Correlatio
values
of soil
attributesnsfor
Calibratio
breach
mark
n
soil

Fig. 1 Guiding principles for soil quality assessment (Adopted and modified from Mandal 2005;
Masto et al., 2008)
Indicators identified for different rice-based cropping systems
Soil of Southeast Asia is endowed with rice-based cropping system. Other major rice based
cropping systems are followed in China, Japan and some parts of Brazil etc. A numbers of
studies from countries of Western described soil quality of soils in temperate region under
orchards, horticulture based cropping systems. Few attempts are made from China, Brazil and
India for screening and describing soil quality indicators in low land rice soil. Although, a
different set of key soil attributes for maintenances of quality and productivity of rice-soil is
required as these systems are different from other arable systems because rice is grown under
submergence/ mud soil water condition (Basak et al., 2015). A comprehensive presentation of
soil quality indicators from soils under rice-based cropping systems in different countries
screened through different statistical procedure are described (Table 1).
Summery and conclusion:
Among the varied soil attributes, soil organic matter was screened as key indicators for
assessment of soil quality for soils where rice-based cropping system have been continuing.
Besides, micronutrient Cu and Mn, mean weight diameter and bulk density were selected for

soils under rice-based cropping system in Brazil; available major nutrients N, P, K were selected
for red soils under rice cultivated Hilly region of subtropical China; water quality and aquifer
depth of irrigation water were screened in soils under rice-rape system of coastal reclamation belt
of China. Whereas, soil pH, dehydrogenase activity and cation exchange capacity for Inceptisols;
bulk density, nitrogen mineralisation and -glucosidase activity for Entisols and nitrogen
mineralisation and very labile C for Alfisols were screened as key indicators for assessment of
soil quality under a rice-based cropping system (rice-potato-sesame) in sub-tropical India.

Table 1. Soil quality indicators selected using statistical methodology in different countries

Cropping
system

Countr
y

Low land Rice Brazil


(Lima et al.,
2008)

Hilly red soil China


region
of
subtropical
Rice (Li et at.,
2013)
Ricerape in Do
salt-affected
farmland
in
the
coastal
reclamation
area

Statistical
methodologies used
for selection of
indicators
Principle component
analysis/Discriminat
e analysis

Per cent explained


of total data set;
and total number of
attributes assessed
78% of data set
from 29 attributes
(PCA);
DA explained the
~99%
described
data set of PCA
Principle component 78% of data set
analysis
from 17 attributes
(PCA)

Soil quality indicators

Principle component 78% of data set


analysis/Discriminat from 22 attributes
e analysis
(PCA);
DA
explained the ~99%
described data set
of PCA

Soil organic matter,


dissolve soil organic
C, soil water table;
and irrigation water
Cl-, Na+ and electrical
conductivity are the
water
quality
component
Dehydrogenase
activity, available P,
mean
weight
diameter and total N
Dehydrogenase
activity, available K,
exchange
capacity
and pHCa

Bulk density, organic


matter, earthworms,
available Zn and Mn,
and mean weight
diameter
Soil organic matter,
available N,
available P, slowly
available K, and sand

Rice-wheatIndia
jute
(Chaudhury et
al. 2005)
Rice-potatoDo
sesame
(Basak et al.,
2015)
in
Inceptisols

Principle component 95% of data set


analysis
from 10 attributes
(PCA)
Principle component
analysis/
Discriminate
analysis

87% of data set


and 27 attributes
(PCA);
DA explained the
~91%
described
data set of PCA

Rice-potatoDo
sesame
(Basak et al.,
2015)
in
Entisols

Do

85% of data set


and 27 attributes
(PCA);
92%
described data set
of PCA

Organic C, pHCa, bulk


density,
nitrogen
mineralisation and
glucosidase activity

Rice-potatoDo
sesame
(Basak et al.,
2015)
in
Alfisols

Do

83% of data set 27


attributes (PCA);
99% described data
set of PCA

DHA, very labile C,


nitrogen
mineralisation
and
microbial biomass C

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