The European Commission's Joint Research Centre proposed a definition, stating that
Soil quality is the capacity of a specific kind of soil to function, within natural or managed ecosystem boundaries, to sustain plant and animal productivity, maintain or enhance water and air quality, and support human health and habitation.
Soil quality reflects how well a soil performs the functions of maintaining biodiversity and productivity, partitioning water and solute flow, filtering and buffering, nutrient cycling, and providing support for plants and other structures. Soil management has a major impact on soil quality.
Soil quality in agricultural terms is measured on a scale of soil value (Bodenwertzahl) in Germany.
See also 
- Dryland salinity
- Environmental soil science
- Soil biodiversity
- Soil carbon
- Soil health
- Soil policy (Victoria, Australia)
- Soil resilience
- Soil structure
- Soil water (retention)
- Soil value
- Tóth, G., Stolbovoy, V. and Montanarella, 2007. Soil Quality and Sustainability Evaluation - An integrated approach to support soil-related policies of the European Union, EUR 22721 EN. 40 pp. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg. ISBN 978-92-79-05250-7.
- Johnson, D.L., S.H. Ambrose, T.J. Bassett, M.L. Bowen, D.E. Crummey, J.S. Isaacson, D.N. Johnson, P. Lamb, M. Saul, and A.E. Winter-Nelson. 1997. Meanings of environmental terms. Journal of Environmental Quality 26: 581-589.
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