David Kroetsch, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Government of Canada, Ottawa, ON, Canada and Natalie Feisthauer, Science and Technology Branch, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Guelph, ON, Canada
A unique soil “fingerprinting” framework has been recently developed by researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada that has the potential to be used to describe and monitor the impacts of environmental and land use management on soil quality. This soil fingerprinting Framework provides an enhanced methodology to systematically track and record the state of change in soil chemical, physical and biological characteristics in A horizon soils to generate a unique descriptor analogous to the generation of a genetic code or a soil “fingerprint”. The Framework monitors A horizon characteristics that not only represent dynamic soil properties (soil structure, organic matter content) but also soil and land information (soil texture, land use) that contextualizes the information to allow comparative interpretations of soil quality changes due to beneficial management practices among different soils, or the same soils under different conditions or at different times.
Existing taxonomic protocols for A horizon designators in many soil classification systems emphasize soil genetic process. By introducing additional lowercase suffix levels related to soil properties and morphology, important information can be included in the A horizon designation for enhancing topsoil characterization. The A Horizon Framework developed with 5 levels of enhanced lower case suffix designators designators are defined: Level 1, Soil processes and environmental context; Level 2, Soil structure-bulk density; Level 3, Organic carbon; Level 4, pH and electrical conductivity; and, Level 5, Soil and landscape context. An electronic Field Form based on the new Framework syntax automatically records the soil fingerprint code in an enhanced (all Levels included) and a minimum detail mode focused on the key dynamic properties.