Population growth and increasing resource demands in Ethiopia are stressing and degrading agricultural landscapes. Most Ethiopian soils are already exhausted by several decades of over exploitation and mismanagement. Since many agricultural sustainability issues are related to soil quality, its assessment is very important. We determined integrated soil quality indices (SQI) within the surface 0–15 cm depth increment for three agricultural land uses: rain fed cultivation (RF); agroforestry (AF) and irrigated crop production (IR). Each land use was replicated five times within a semi-arid watershed in eastern Tigray, Northern Ethiopia. Using the framework suggested by Karlen and Stott (1994); four soil functions regarding soil’s ability to: (1) accommodate water entry (WE); (2) facilitate water movement and availability (WMA); (3) resist degradation (RD); and (4) supply nutrients for plant growth (PNS) were estimated for each land use. The result revealed that AF affected all soil quality functions positively more than the other land uses. Furthermore, the four soil quality functions were integrated into an overall SQI; and the values for the three land uses were in the order: 0.58 (AF) > 0.51 (IR) > 0.47 (RF). The dominant soil properties influencing the integrated SQI values were soil organic carbon (26.4%); water stable aggregation (20.0%); total porosity (16.0%); total nitrogen (11.2%); microbial biomass carbon (6.4%); and cation exchange capacity (6.4%). Collectively, those six indicators accounted for more than 80% of the overall SQI values.
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