Traditional approaches to soil quality evaluation were based on the use of physical, chemical and microbiological indicators. Recently, new methods, based on soil microarthropods have been proposed for soil quality evaluation. Soil microarthropods have been shown to respond sensitively to land management practices and to be correlated with beneficial soil functions. In Italy, a new approach (called QBS index) based on the types of edaphic microarthropods has been proposed to assess soil biological quality. The QBS index is based on microarthropod groups present in a soil sample. Each type found in the sample receives a score from 1 to 20 (eco-morphological index, EMI), according to its adaptation to soil environment. The QBS index sums up these scores, thereby characterizing the microarthropod community of the sample being studied. QBS has been applied on a range of soil types and land uses in Italy, its validity evaluated for assessing biological quality of soil in different situations. This paper describes the QBS methods and presents three applications of the proposed methodology.
Microarthropod Communities as a Tool to Assess Soil Quality and Biodiversity: a new Approach in Italy / Parisi, V; Menta, Cristina; Gardi, C; Jacomini, C; Mozzanica, E.. - In: AGRICULTURE, ECOSYSTEMS & ENVIRONMENT. - ISSN 0167-8809. - 105:1-2(2005), pp. 323-333. [10.1016/j.agee.2004.02.002]