Integrated soil quality assessment as an indicator for a successful conversion to organic agriculture.
The results of an extensive soil quality assessment on conventionally managed fields were compared with the soil quality on a reference field as a result of a multi-year organic management. Application of soil improving management practices in conventional agriculture will facilitate the conversion to organic agriculture. Inclusion of a ley is a promising practice to increase the organic matter content and sustain soil quality, however, its management might be decisive for reaching that goal. Ca and Mg input by fertilization should be equilibrated, as a factor affecting the Ca:Mg ratio and therefore soil structure. Correct application technique and timing of soil improving fertilization should prevent reduced root growth due to bacterial decomposition activity.