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Table 1 Indicators and their selected criteria for the preparation of Soil Health Card (SHC) according to Northern Rivers Soil Health Card (NRSHC) (2002) based on USDA

From: A Soil Health Card (SHC) for soil quality monitoring of agricultural lands in south-eastern coastal region of Bangladesh

Soil quality indicators Poor (score 1, 2) Medium (score 3, 4) Good (score 5, 6)
Soil structure A large no. of clods found, very poor granular structure Few clods found, irregular granular structure No clods found, good granular and crumb structure present
Subsurface compaction Tightly bonded layers, Interlayer lines cannot be identified easily, a lot of turbulent mixing found Firm soil, interlayer lines are visible with small turbulent mixing Loose soil, Interlayer lines can be distinguished easily
Aggregate stability Aggregate took more than 5 min to break Aggregate broke apart within 2 min Aggregate broke apart within 1 min
Ground cover Less than 40% 40–60% More than 60%
Soil smell Highly stagnant muddy smell identified Little earthy or no smell identified Fresh earthy smell identified
Soil pH Less than 5 5–5.5 5.6–8
Organic matter and soil color Topsoil is light brown in color; color is getting lighter with increasing depth. OM is irrecoverable or can be recovered after a lot of managements Topsoil is normal brown in color with irregular sign of black portion. OM can be recovered easily Topsoil and subsoil both are black/deep brown in color
Drainage capacity Soils drain and dry very slowly; fields remain water logged after simple rain Soils drain and dry slowly; fields’ remains water logged only after heavy rains Soils drain and dry very quickly; fields remain as usual even after heavy rains
Diversity of macro life Less than 3 varieties found in naked eye 3–6 varieties found naked eye More than 6 varieties found in naked eye
Roots and residues Roots are found only in top soil, no visible residue decomposition found Roots are found within 8 cm below the surface, little residue decomposition found Roots are found more than 8 cm below the surface, noticeable residue decomposition found
Earthworm content Less than 3 in number present 3–6 in number present More than 6 in number present
Infiltration rate It takes more than 5 min to infiltrate or no infiltration occurs It takes 3–5 min to infiltrate It takes 1–2 min to infiltrate
Soil aeration No available aeration chance. Soil grains are packed tightly Moderate permeability chance for air. Inter-granular space is visible Efficient aeration is possible. Soil has available spaces between two grains
Seedling emergence Seedlings are irregular in size Seedlings of each cluster are even in size Almost all seedlings are even in size
Crop coverage and leaf color Poor crop growth, yellow/purple/light green in color Moderate crop growth, green in color Healthy crop growth, dark green in color