Maguey mezcalero (Agave angustifolia Haw.) is an industrial crop grown in the highlands of Oaxaca State (Southern Mexico), a semi-arid area. A previous study focusing on soil properties provided a reference for the selection of the soil quality indicators in this study. The objective of this work was to identify the appropriate soil parameters for soil quality assessment in cultivated A. angustifolia plantations using three tillage systems: disk ploughing (DP), animal-drawn ploughing (ADP) and minimum tillage (MT). Each tillage system was associated with a specific topographic condition (valley, hill and mountain, respectively). Principal component analysis identified soil organic carbon, pH, soil microbial biomass carbon, and exchangeable Mg2+ as potential indicators for a minimum data set for soil quality assessment in A. angustifolia plantations. Soil organic carbon was the most sensitive indicator for separating the sites and their associated tillage systems.
Key words: Agave angustifolia, semi-arid soils, soil organic carbon.
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