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Visual soil assessment: field guide for cropping

Visual assessments provide an immediate diagnostic tool to evaluate soil quality, as many physical, biological (and to a lesser degree chemical) soil characteristics show up as visual characteristics. Results are easy to interpret and understand. The Visual Soil Assessment (VSA) method has been developed to help land managers assess soil quality easily, quickly, reliably and cheaply on a paddock scale. It requires little equipment, training or technical skills. Part I, “VSA of soil quality under cropping” uses a score card for soil indicators and for plant indicators. The different indicators and states of condition are shown in photos which enables a direct and qualitative on-field scoring and assessment. Assessing and monitoring soil quality on your farm with VSA, and following guidelines for prevention or recovery of soil degradation, can help you develop and implement sustainable land management practices.