Mechanized maneuver training impacts the landscape by creating depressions, compacting soils, producing bare ground areas, transporting seeds of invasive plants, and crushing vegetation. We measured 3 physical, 13 chemical, and 2 biological soil properties and used a disturbance index (DI) based on perceptions of soil conditions on a military installation to assess the condition of 100 ?? 100 m plots (1 ha): 10 in 2002 and 10 in 2004. Potential DI scores range from 0 (no appreciable evidence of disturbance) to 1 (>95 per cent of the plot disturbed). Bulk density, porosity (%), and water content (%) - all at 5-1-10-0cm depth, and nematode family richness (NFR) were significantly, negatively correlated (Spearman coefficients, rs) with the DI of both years. The strong negative correlation (rs., = -0.69 in 2002, -0.79 in 2004) of NFR with the DI appears to reflect the status of nematode diversity and, therefore, may serve as a useful, inexpensive approach to rapidly assessing grasslands subjected to mechanized military training. Copyright ?? 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.