Soil Fertility Management
The goal of soil fertility management is to create soil chemical conditions that encourage plant growth and supply required nutrients in the amounts and at the times they are most needed. Liming materials and plant nutrients may be added to the soil in many forms and can be done so in a way that maximizes the economic benefits of nutrients while minimizing any environmental impact. The ways in which crops respond to these applications often are different because some soils have inherent physical limitations to plant growth. Soil testing is the best guide to soil fertility. Plant tissue analysis also may be helpful when used in conjunction with soil testing. Some highlights of soil fertility management are presented in the following sections.
Agricultural Problem Soils
The term agricultural problem soil is not an exact determined concept and creates some inherent problems of definition. Each soil type is a specific formation by the interaction of parent material, climate, organisms, topography and time. The deriving soil properties have consequences for the use by man. The possible types of agricultural use of a given soil may vary considerably. Pasture, agroforestry and arable land use have different demands of favourable soil properties. Moreover, different crops may demand very differing soil characteristics for optimal production. This implies that the same soil may be considered for one production system as problematic and for another not. Therefore the term “problem soil” always has to be seen together with the envisaged or practised land use system and the classification of different problem soils will always depend on the envisaged or given land use. Thus, a “problem soil” is always related to a specific land use situation. However, there are soil types with specific common characteristics that dominate frequently agricultural land use.