Schjønning, P. (2004) The soil quality concept as a tool for exposing values in science and promoting sustainability considerations. In: Kertész, A.; Kovács, A.; Csuták, M.; Jakab, G. and Madarász, B. (Eds.) Proceedings of the 4th International Congress of the ESSC, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Geographical Research Institute, 1112 Budapest, Budaörsi út 45, Hungary, pp. 108-112.
The term soil quality has mainly been used as a technical concept for grading soils. It is important that the values and goals in soil use planning and soil management are explicitly stated and related to the soil quality indicators. Such a cognitive soil quality concept may facilitate the urgent need of soil scientists to interact with stakeholders in the society. Useful approaches for such exercises have been proposed in the literature. A shift in research paradigm away from the classical, positivistic, ‘value-neutral’ approach is, however, a prerequisite for a fruitful outcome of this endeavour. The reflexive objectivity is a valuable tool in differentiating the basic scientific observations from societal priorities and personal values of the scientist. Other suggestions of associating ‘post-positivistic-science’ societal priorities to observations and experiments (e.g., ‘precautionary’ science) are strongly dissuaded. The suggested increase in focus on sustainability-based decisions on soil management induces a recommended search for ‘management thresholds’ rather than the more descriptive ‘soil quality indicator benchmarks/thresholds’. I strongly recommend the ESSC to increase its activities on prescriptive and management-oriented research and in this endeavour make use of the proposals given above.
Repository Staff Only: item control page