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Soil health is a term which is widely used within discussions on sustainable agriculture to describe the general condition or quality of the soil resource. Soil management is fundamental to all agricultural systems, yet there is evidence for widespread degradation of agricultural soils in the form of erosion, loss of organic matter, contamination, compaction, increased salinity and other harms (European Commission 2002). This degradation sometimes occurs rapidly and obviously, for example when poor soil management leads to gully erosion. Often degradation is slower and more subtle, and may only impact on agricultural production and the wider environment over years. For this reason, research has been directed to devising measures of the health of soil, which could be used to monitor its condition and inform its management so that degradation is avoided. 
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