Developing scoring functions to assess soil quality at a regional scale in rangelands of SW Spain

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Pulido Fernandez M., Keshavarzi A., Rodrigo-Comino J., Schnabel S., Lavado Contador J. F., Gomez Gutierrez A., ...More

REVISTA BRASILEIRA DE CIENCIA DO SOLO, vol.44, 2020 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 44
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.36783/18069657rbcs20200090
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, CAB Abstracts, Veterinary Science Database, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: No


The drawing of maps of soil quality at a large scale is increasingly being more useful to land planners and stakeholders. Nevertheless, it involves different methodological steps from the description of soil profiles in the field until the regional mapping of integrative soil quality index (IQI) values. The development of proper scoring functions is a paramount task for the calculation of these IQI values since every parameter needs to be standardized accordingly and weighting factors are usually estimated by multivariate techniques. The main goal of this study was to map soil quality in the Spanish region of Extremadura (commonly known by its rangelands called dehesas). To do that, i) we gathered information from 194 soil profiles described throughout the region, ii) we calculated the weighting factors of ten meaningful parameters used as indicators by using multivariate techniques (Principal Component Analysis, PCA; and Analytic Hierarchy Process, AHP), and iii) we developed standard scoring functions (SSFs) that represent the singularity of every variable (less is better, more is better). We established upper and lower limits for standardizing the values of each indicator properly. Regarding weighting factors, soil texture was highlighted by the PCA and nutrients by the AHP. Once IQI values were calculated, two regional maps of soil quality were drawn by using interpolation methods (ordinary kriging). The IQI maps showed remarkable spatial differences in soil quality presumably induced by land management. We conclude this methodology could be useful and we encourage other colleagues to test its effectiveness in places where soil data are available.