Microbial biomass and earthworms as indicators of soil quality under contrasting management practices in small-scale dairy systems


Felipe López González
Noelia Carolina Caicedo Coello
Belén Archundia Velarde
Carlos Manuel Arriaga Jordán
Vianey Colín Navarro


Agricultural management practice, Soil quality, Small-scale milk production systems.


Objetive: To determine soil quality under two contrasting agricultural management practices, based on microbial biomass and earthworm density, as compared to untilled control soils in two seasons (dry and wet), in different production units of small-scale milk production systems.

Methodology: The work was conducted in ten production units in the municipality of Aculco, Estado de México, Mexico. We analyzed physical, chemical, and biological soil indicators (microbial biomass and earthworm density). We conducted an ANOVA with a 3 x 2 factorial arrangement (three systems [maize, grassland, and control] and two seasons [dry and wet]).

Results: Values for all quality indicators in maize-cultivated soils were low, but increased in the wet season. Parameters in pasture-cultivated soils were similar to control soils.

Implications: These results determine the conditions of the soils used in milk production systems.

Conclusions: Some of the parameters assessed can be used as indicators of soil degradation and to strengthen other indicators which lead to an improved assessment of these systems’ sustainability

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