With 2015 being the International Year of Soils, there has been a great deal of focus on soil health.

A Soil Health Quiz can be downloaded from the OMAFRA website. The quiz helps you examine soil health and document changes over time. This allows you to track the impact of management practices as you work to protect and improve the agricultural productivity.

How to Use the Soil Health Quiz

  1. A printable version of the quiz is available on the OMAFRA website.
  2. The quiz evaluates: soil tilth, soil life, soil air and water, plant vigor, fertility management and erosion.
  3. To complete the quiz, you will need a pencil, a knife, a shovel and a recent soil test.
  4. Best Times to Assess Indicators table provides a guide as to when indicators should be evaluated. Example is shown below.
IndicatorEarly spring, before plantingGrowing season
Growing season
FallAfter rainfall

5. Divide your farm & fields into separate sections for evaluation in the same way you would divide them for soil fertility sampling: separate by factors such as soil type, topography, and history of tillage, crop rotation & manure application.

6. Enter the Date and Field Identification information at the top of the form.

7. Select 2-3 representative spots in your field & evaluate each soil indicator.

8. For each indicator, read the Descriptive Ratings in the rectangular boxes. Based on your judgement rate the indicator Good, Fair, or Poor check the small square in the box with the best description. Example of the Descriptive Ratings for Soil Tilth:

StructureΔ Good crumb structure, tills easily leaving no clods, soil breaks apart easilyΔ Moderate crumb structure, some clods, soil breaks apart with some pressureΔ Hard, tills with difficulty, tillage creates lots of clods
CrustingΔ Soil maintains open/porous surface all growing season, seedling emergence not affectedΔ Some surface sealing, minimal effect on seedling emergenceΔ Soil surface seals easily after tillage and rain events, inhibits seedling emergence
CompactionΔ Loose soil, unrestricted root penetrationΔ Firm soil, root penetration somewhat restricted, slightly flattened root tips, some horizontal growthΔ Hard layers, tight soil, severely restricted root penetration, root tips flattened, horizontal growth and bunched roots common

9. In the Notes section following each group of soil health indicators, record any observations or soil conditions that will help you review & evaluate your ratings.

10. Review 'How to interpret the Soil Health Quiz' found on the OMAFRA website.

11. Follow changes in each of the soil health indicators over time, examine current field management practices, and explore options & consider alternatives for management changes in problem areas.