Main authors: Abdallah Alaoui and Gudrun Schwilch
Editor: Jane Brandt
Source document: Alaoui, A. and Schwilch, G. (2016) Soil quality and agricultural management practices inventory at case study sites.  iSQAPER Report  28 pp



Well-developed cultivation pans can impede the movement of water, air and oxygen through the profile, increasing the susceptibility to water logging and erosion by rilling and sheet wash. Well-developed cultivation pans are difficult for roots to penetrate and can cause them to grow horizontally, restricting vertical root growth and development. This reduces the ability of the root system to take up water and nutrients.


  • Dig a hole of about 50 cm depth and examine the lower part of the topsoil by comparing it with the upper topsoil.
  • Compare against the three photographs.

VSA fig03.2
VSA fig03.1
VSA fig03.0


Good condition: Score 2

No tillage pan, with a friable, clearly apparent structure and soil pores throughout the topsoil.

Moderate condition: Score 1

Firm, moderately developed tillage pan in the lower topsoil, showing clear zones of compaction, but including areas with weakly developed structure, cracks, fissures and a few micro-pores.

Poor condition: Score 0

Very firm to hard, well developed tillage pan in the lower topsoil, showing severe compaction with no structure, no macro-pores and few or no cracks.




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