Possible Solutions to Remedy the Detrimental Effects of Soil Acidity on Tropical Agriculture

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Possible Solutions to Remedy the Detrimental Effects of Soil Acidity on Tropical Agriculture

Arable tropical soils, which mainly consist of Oxisols and Ultisols but also include regions of Inceptisols and Alfisols, cover approximately one billion hectares; this area represents 33 percent of the total potentially arable land of this world which does not require irrigation. Most of these soils have optimum conditions for crop production, including low population density, excellent physical conditions, and a favorable climate (Van Wambeke, 1976). The main limitation of agricultural productivity and the reason that these tropical soils are underutilized for farming is soil acidity and its related factors. Improving the quality and yield of crops in these regions would do much to relieve the food pressures imposed upon us by the world's growing population. As stated by I.M. Rao, et al.:

It is particularly critical to realize the agricultural potential of Ultisols and Oxisols which remain idle in huge areas of the tropics...(but) we cannot repeat previous attempts to settle farmers in these areas before we have collected sufficient data and facts upon which we can honestly base our recommendations which guarantee a decent living from agricultural enterprise (Rao et al., 1993).

Therefore, it is of the utmost importance for us to find a feasible and cost-effective way to alleviate the problems of soil acidity on tropical agriculture.

Before the effects of soil acidity on tropical agriculture is examined, it is necessary to have a good background on what soil acidity is and how it occurs. Soils become acid because of vigorous leaching, coupled with the inputs of acids (substances capable of releasing positive hydrogen atom...

... middle of paper ...

...fisol from Zambia": Tropical Agriculture, vol. 70, no. 4, pp. 309-313.

Rao, I.M. et al., 1993, "Selection and Breeding for Acid-Soil Tolerance in Crops": Bioscience, vol. 43, pp. 454-465.

Ritchey, K.D. et al., 1991, "Rapid evaluation of Juvenile Sorghum for Tolerance to Soil Acidity": Journal of Plant Nutrition, vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 315-329.

Singer, Michael and Munns, Donald, 1996, Soils: An Introduction (3rd ed.): New Jersey, Prentice Hall, 480 p.

Van Wambeke, A., 1976, "Formation, Distribution, and Consequences of Acid Soils in Agricultural Development": Proceedings of Workshop on Plant Adaptation to Mineral Stress in Problem Soils, Nov. 22-23, 1976, pp. 15-24.

Yamoah, Charles, et al., 1992, "Correction of Acid Infertility in Rwandan Oxisols with Lime from an Indigenous Source for Sustainable Cropping": Exploratory Agriculture, vol. 28, pp. 417-424.

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