Assessment of soil biochemical properties and soil quality index under rainfed land use systems in submontane Punjab, India

Maini, Asima ; Sharma, Vivek ; Sharma, Sandeep


The conversion of natural systems to cultivated systems contributes to changes in the activities of microbial communities and biochemical processes in the soil. A total of 80 surface soil samples (0-15 cm) from 6 rainfed land use systems viz. agriculture, horticulture, agri-horticulture, forest, agroforestry and eroded lands were analyzed for biochemical properties and to derive soil quality index. The soils are slightly acid to neutral in reaction (pH-6.4-6.9) with 0.09-0.23 dS m−1 electrical conductivity (EC), loamy sand to sandy loam in texture, 1.4-6.1 g kg−1 soil organic carbon (SOC), 86-406 kg ha−1 available nitrogen, 29.3-32.6 kg ha−1 available phosphorus,65-226 kg ha−1 available potassium,10.3-21.3 mg kg−1 DTPA-Mn, 12.1-34.2 mg kg−1 DTPA-Fe, 0.34-1.01 mg kg−1 DTPA-Cu and 0.76-1.15 mg kg−1 DTPA-Zn, respectively under different land use systems. Among soil biochemical properties, the enzymic activity among land use systemsis varied from 7.4 to 12.8 µg TPF g−1 h−1 for dehydrogenase activity, 22.3 to 34.5 µg pNP g−1 h−1 for acid phosphatase, 43.4 to 60.1 µg pNP g−1 h−1 for alkaline phosphatase, 3.31 to 4.77 µg NH4-N g−1 soil min−1 for urease activity-, basal soil respiration −0.13 to 0.30 µg CO2 g−1 soil h−1 for basal respiration , 46.5 to 242.6 µg g−1 soil for soil microbial biomass carbon (MBC) and 8.68 to 30.6 g kg−1 for total easily extractable glomalin (TEGP), respectively. The principle component analysis showed that SOC, EC, TEGP, MBC and DTPA-Zn are robust soil quality indicators under different land use systems in submontane Punjab. The forestry system has higher values for physicochemical, biochemical properties and soil quality index as against agri-horticulture, horticulture, agroforestry, agriculture and eroded system. In subsystems, eucalyptus-based forestry and mango based agri-horticulture systems are served as a better system for soil quality assessment in submontane Punjab, India.


Dehydrogenase; Microbial biomass; Soil biochemical properties; Total glomalin

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