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Biofunctool®: a new set of indicators to assess the impact of land management onsoil functioning

Thoumazeau A., Bessou C., Panklang P., Suvannang N., Thaler P., Tivet F., Gay F., Brauman A.. 2019. In : Book of abstarcts of the Wageningen Soil Conference 2019. Wageningen : Wageningen University and Research, p. 64-64. Wageningen Soil Conference 2019: Understanding soil fonctions, 2019-08-27/2019-08-30, Wageningen (Pays-Bas).

The concept and methods to assess soil quality have been widely debated in the literature for the last twenty years. We developed a new framework to assess soil quality following an integrative approach based on the measurement of soil dynamic functions rather than stocks, namely Biofunctool®. Biofunctool® accounts for the interactions between soil physico-chemical properties and soil biological activity. It consists of twelve in-field, time- and cost- effective indicators to assess three main soil functions: carbon transformation, nutrient cycling and structure maintenance. Firstly, the capacity of Biofunctool® to assess the impact of land management on soil quality was validated through a reliability, redundancy and sensitivity analysis. The results over 250 sampling points in Thailand showed the relevance of each of the twelve indicators to assess soil functioning. Secondly, we applied Biofunctool® and aggregated the indicators in a Soil Quality Index that synthetize the impact of land management on soil quality. Biofunctool® was applied within various contexts (tree plantations, agroforestry, conservation agriculture etc.) and two cases study will be presented: i.) impacts of a disturbance gradient based on various land uses and rubber tree stands in Thailand ii.) impacts of conservation agriculture practices in Cambodia. The overall results proved that Biofunctool® index provides a synthetic soil functioning score that is sensitive to land management and is robust in various pedo-climatic contexts. Therefore, Biofunctool® is a reliable tool to assess the soil integrated functioning, i.e., soil quality, and could be included within larger environmental impact assessment frameworks.

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