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The soil quality concept as a tool for exposing values in science and promoting sustainability considerations

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.

[thumbnail of ESSC_pap_Per-Schjonning.pdf] PDF - English


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.

EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Paper
Keywords:soil quality, indicators, research paradigm, positivistic science, reflexive objectivity, societal priorities, precautionary science,
Subjects: Knowledge management > Research methodology and philosophy > Systems research and participatory research
Soil > Soil quality
Crop husbandry > Production systems
Knowledge management > Research methodology and philosophy > Specific methods > Indicators and other value-laden measures
Farming Systems > Social aspects
Crop husbandry > Crop health, quality, protection
"Organics" in general
Knowledge management > Research methodology and philosophy > Research communication and quality
Knowledge management > Education, extension and communication
Research affiliation: Denmark > DARCOF II (2000-2005) > I. 7 (ROMAPAC) Soil quality in organic farming
Deposited By: Schjønning, Senior Soil Scientist Per
ID Code:3357
Deposited On:29 Sep 2004
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:29
Document Language:English
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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