AbstractAgroecosystem Health Cards are handbooks that provide straightforward, practical information on how to assess agroecosystem health through the analysis of a group of aboveground (crop) and, above all, belowground (soil) indicators. In addition, they allow for the assessment of the impact of specific agricultural practices on agroecosystem health. The main objective of these Agroecosystem Health Cards is to provide farmers and other stakeholders related to agroecosystem management (technical staff, scientists and administration staff) with a practical tool that allows them to evaluate the impact of agricultural practices on agroecosystem health by themselves, so that they can choose those management options that prove to be more sustainable. To this purpose, these Agroecosystem Health Cards explain which health indicators can be measured, how to do it properly, the meaning of the different indicators and, finally, the reference values considered “good”, “medium” and “bad”. Indicators are divided into two categories (basic and advanced) in order to carry out a basic and advanced diagnosis of health, respectively, depending on the interests and possibilities of the user.
Doran JW, Parkin TB. 1994. Defining and assessing soil quality. In: Doran JW, Coleman DC, Bezdicek DF, Stewart BA, editors. Defining Soil Quality for a Sustainable Environment. SSSA Special Publication, 35. Madison: SSSA. p. 3-21.
Epelde L, Becerril JM, Mijangos I, Garbisu C. 2009. Evaluation of the efficiency of a phytostabilization process with biological indicators of soil health. J Environ Qual. 38:2041-2049.
Garbisu C, Alkorta I, Epelde L. 2011. Assessment of soil quality using microbial properties and attributes of ecological relevance. Appl Soil Ecol. 49:1-4.
Gómez-Sagasti MT, Alkorta I, Becerril JM, Epelde L, Anza M, Garbisu C. 2012. Microbial monitoring of the recovery of soil quality during heavy metal phytoremediation. Water Air Soil Pollut. 223:3249-3262.
Larson WE, Pierce FJ. 1994. The dynamics of soil quality as a measure of sustainable management. In: Doran JW, Coleman DC, Bezdicek DF, Stewart BA, editors. Defining Soil Quality for a Sustainable Environment. SSSA Special Publication, 35. Madison: SSSA. p. 37-52.
Muñoz-Leoz B, Ruiz-Romera E, Antigüedad I, Garbisu C. 2011. Tebuconazole application decreases soil microbial biomass and activity. Soil Biol Biochem. 43:2176-2183.
Nielsen MN, Winding A. 2002. Microorganisms as indicators of soil health. Technical Report No. 388. Denmark: National Environmental Research Institute.
Reichle DE. 1977. The role of soil invertebrates in nutrient cycling. In: Lohm U, Persson T, editors. Soil Organisms as Components of Ecosystems. Stockholm: Ecological Bulletin. p. 145-156.
Steiner KG. 1996. Causes of soil degradation and development approaches to sustainable soil management. Leiden: Backhuys Publishers.