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Understanding the types of soil present in a location and how to work with the soil to maintain and improve its biological potential is essential to sustainable food production.  



  1. Key Resource
    2002-01-01 Acidification of soil is a natural process with major ramifications on plant growth. As soils become more acid, particularly when the pH drops below 4.5, it becomes increasingly difficult to produce food crops. As soil pH declines, the supply of most plant nutrients decreases while aluminum and a...
  2. Key Resource
    2009-01-20 All plants need certain mineral elements for proper growth, development, and maintenance. The basic structure of all organisms is built of carbon (C), oxygen (O) and hydrogen (H). Plants obtain these elements from water (H2O) in the soil and carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air, so no input is...
  3. 2018-10-31 This article is from ECHO Asia Note # 36. Soil chemical, physical, and biological properties range from those highly favorable to plant growth to those highly unfavorable to plant growth. It is rare—especially in the tropics—to find a soil in its natural state in which all properties are highly...
  4. Key Resource 2015-07-23 Climate change will have a huge impact on the world’s poorest people. Crop yields have already gone down in the tropics and are projected to drop by 15-30% by 2080 in Africa, South Asia, and Central America (Hoffman 2013). Some countries could reach a 50% loss of agricultural productivity; in...
  5. 2002-01-20 The conventional view of the relationship between soil nutrients and crop productivity in the tropics is leading to both damaging agricultural policies and inefficient and damaging farm-level practices. There is no need to use the huge quantities of chemical fertilizers that are so often...
  6. This video provides a quick overview of the procedure used at ECHO Florida to test for soil nitrate using a Vernier ion selective electrode (ISE). A lab protocol provides more detailed descriptions of the steps in the process as well as all the required materials and equipment for the test.
  7. 2013-12-20 Soil quality, also known as soil health, is the capacity of the soil to function – how well it fills the roles we need it to, whether in a natural or managed ecosystem. A variety of measures are used to gauge soil health; although we can use these characteristics as indicators of soil quality,...
  8. ISRIC – World Soil Information has a mission to serve the international community as custodian of global soil information. We are striving to increase awareness and understanding of soils in major global issues.
  9. 2017-02-15 This report describes and analyzes the soil distribution and characteristics of the main soil types in Mainland Southeast Asia (MSEA) that comprise the countries of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. This article is from ECHO Asia Note #30
  10. A global consortium has been formed that aims to make a new digital soil map of the world using state-of-the-art and emerging technologies for soil mapping and predicting soil properties at fine resolution.This new global soil map will be supplemented by interpretation and functionality options...
  11. The International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) is the global union of soil scientists. The objectives of theIUSSare to promote all branches of soil science, and to support all soil scientists across the world in the pursuit of their activities. This website provides information forIUSSmembers...
  12. TheInternational Union of Soil Science (IUSS)- at its Seventh Congress, at Madison, Wisconsin, USA, in 1960 - recommended that soil maps of continents and large regions be published. As a follow-upFAO and Unesco decided in 1961 to prepare a Soil Map of the World at 1:5 000 000 scale. The project...
  13. Healthy soils are the foundation of agriculture. In the face of mounting challenges such as a growing global population, climate change, and extreme weather events, soil health is critical to our future. Healthy soil is essential as global demands rise for food, fuel, and fiber. Soils also play a...
  14. Sustainable Agriculture for Small-Scale Growers in Nicaragua The mission ofBioNicais to provide training in Nicaragua on how to reclaim depleted soil –“Grow the Soil”– so the soil can grow nutritionally balanced crops. Participants include: 1) agricultural technicians working with...
  15. The Cornell Soil Health Assessment Training Manual: Provides an overview of the concept of soil health. Describes soil constraints and soil quality issues common to soils in New York and the Northeast region, especially in vegetable and field crop production systems. Provides guidelines on how to...
  16. 2005-10-01 One of the most important things a farmer can do for his farm is to prevent soil erosion. One way to do so is by keeping soil covered, especially during the rainy season. Vegetative cover and high levels of soil organic matter are key. Below is a brief description of several vegetative or...
  17. ABSTRACT - Journal of Composting Science and Utilization, 2017 Tropical acid soils are highly weathered as they exist under tropical environment with high rainfall and temperature throughout the year, which affects nitrogen availability. Soil organic nitrogen is important in estimating soil...
  18. AccessAgriculture Training Video In Kenya, small-scale farmers stabilise river banks and reduce rainwater runoff from nearby plots by planting trees and grasses.
  19. AccessAgriculture Video Introduction to sustainable land management practices which have a proven track record in Africa. They can help control land degradation and improve production for small scale farmers, despite the challenges of climate change.
  20. Plant and Soil publishes original research papers and solicited review articles that deal with the interface of plant biology and soil sciences, and are of general interest. We give preference to those manuscripts with a strong mechanistic component which develop and test hypotheses aimed at...
  21. ThisGlossary of Soil Science Termswas an ad hoc committee of the Soil Science of America to provide a single glossary of terms for the various disciplines of soil science.
  22. AccessAgriculture Training Video A 22-minute video to explain the importance of combining organic resources mineral fertilizer and improved varieties in ways that are adapted to local conditions. Practical examples are shown from various agro-ecological zones in Mali, Niger, Nigeria, DR Congo,...
  23. AccessAgriculture Training Video Onions have few roots and shallow roots and therefore can take up nutrients from the top soil only. This explains why it is crucial to pay particular attention to making your soil fertile when you want to grow onions. Arabic Bambara Bariba Dagbani Dendi English...
  24. AccessAgriculture Training Video Onions need rich, fertile soil. Only grow onions once in 3 years in the same field. Plant the onions on raised beds, especially in the rainy season. Transplant when the onions are about 6 weeks old. Plant the onions 10 centimetres apart. By taking good care of...
  25. AccessAgriculture Training Video In semi-arid West Africa, farmers and herders explain why and how trees and livestock play a crucial role in obtaining a productive soil and crop. In Niger and Ghana this is one of the strategies of integrated striga and soil fertility management that has a...
  26. AccessAgriculture Training Video In this video you can learn all about nutrients, soil structure, organic matter and how to maintain fertile soil. All this will allow you to keep on cultivating your land and producing healthy crops. Ateso Chichewa English French Kiswahili Luganda Lugbara Luo...
  27. Regeneration International is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to building a global network of farmers, scientists, businesses, activists, educators, journalists, governments and consumers who will promote and put into practice regenerative agriculture and land-use practices that: provide...
  28. Session: Climate uncertainty and environmental degradation cause deterioration in nutritional status of rural farm families throughout the tropics. Conservation Agriculture methods allow farmers to adapt to these challenges by building soil quality, lowering the risks of uncertain rainfall, and...
  29. Abstract, Science Advances, 2018 August Agricultural and industrial activities have increased atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition to ecosystems worldwide. N deposition can stimulate plant growth and soil carbon (C) input, enhancing soil C storage. Changes in microbial decomposition could also...
  30. Source: FAO-UNESCO, Soil Map of the World, digitized by ESRI. Soil climate map, USDA-NRCS, Soil Science Division, World Soil Resources, Washington D.C. Data Aggregation and Reliability: Conversion of the FAO Soil Map of the World to Soil Taxonomy requiring assigning a Suborder to every...
  31. Abstract , 1997 Soil is the habitat of plant roots and of a diverse array of organisms-bacteria, fungi, protozoa and invertebrate animals -which contribute to the maintenance and productivity of agroecosystems. As intensification occurs, the regulation of functions through soil biodiversity is...
  32. 2001-04-20 Soil acidity, or low pH, limits plant growth in many parts of the world. Although low pH can harm plants in many ways, this article will deal only with one of these factors, aluminum (Al) toxicity.Al is the third most abundant element on the earth (after oxygen and silicon), and the most abundant...
  33. 2018-02-06 Speaker Bio: Dr. Tom Thompson is Associate Dean and Director of International Programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Professor of Agronomy at Virginia Tech. He earned B.S. , M.S. , and Ph.D. degrees in agronomy and soil science. He was an academic department head at two...
  34. The Journal of Soil Science and Environmental Management (JSSEM)is a peer reviewed journal. The journal is published per article and covers all areasof the subject such as: Biological control of rot-inducing fungi Post harvest losses of rice from harvesting to milling Genetic variability studies...
  35. 2017-10-03 Soils of smallholder farmers are often depleted of organic matter and available soil nutrients, and may also be acidic and/or saline. We will review the causes and extent of these soil-related challenges in the developing world. A variety of possible management responses to these challenges will...
  36. 2018-10-31 This article is from ECHO Asia Note # 36. Soil chemical, physical, and biological properties range from those highly favorable to plant growth to those highly unfavorable to plant growth. It is rare—especially in the tropics—to find a soil in its natural state in which all properties are highly...
  37. 2011-01-20
  38. 2019-02-13 Session: Soil degradation and rapid change are faced across Africa, and require attention to both old and new technologies. Over two decades of action research with farmers in Malawi has shown that smallholder food production and nutrition can be improved through biological principles and...
  39. A brief video ofChris McDonoughdescribing the issues of soil erosion in black cracking clay soils in Tanzania, showing the importance of conservation farming techniques to help overcome this.
  40. The online Soil Biology Primer is an introduction to the living component of soil and how it contributes to agricultural productivity and air and water quality. The Primer includes chapters describing the soil food web and its relationship to soil health and chapters about soil bacteria, fungi,...
  41. 2008-10-20 When a legume is growing in its native habitat, it is likely that the appropriate bacteria are present in the soil. If nodules are present on the roots, especially along the taproot near the crown, and if the nodules are pink or red inside, then an appropriate bacterial strain is living in the...
  42. Soil health, or the capacity of the soil to function, is critical to human survival. Soil health constraints beyond nutrient limitations and excesses currently limit agroecosystem productivity and sustainability, resilience to drought and extreme rainfall, and progress in soil and water...
  43. Small holder farmers in Africa do not currently have access to fast and reliable soil testing services, and as a result lack the necessary soil information to purchase the correct inputs for increasing their yields. To meet this need in Kenya, we have developed a professional Soil Testing and SMS...
  44. Founded by Dr. Elaine Ingham in 1996,Soil Foodweb Incis dedicated to changing the way the world grows food and how humans treat the Earth's soils. The Soil Foodweb Approach has been used on over 5 Million acres worldwide to dramatically reduce input costs, increase yields and to sequester soil...
  45. 2013-12-20 Soil quality, also known as soil health, is the capacity of the soil to function – how well it fills the roles we need it to, whether in a natural or managed ecosystem. A variety of measures are used to gauge soil health; although we can use these characteristics as indicators of soil quality,...
  46. 2007-07-20 This article takes a fresh look at what is going on in the soil, especially in relation to soil organic matter and the organisms it supports; how this life in the soil is impacted by our land care practices; and how it in turn impacts the productivity of our farms.
  47. Healthy soil is the foundation for profitable, productive, and environmentally sound agricultural systems. By understanding how the soil processes that support plant growth and regulate environmental quality are affected by management practices, it is possible to design a crop and soil management...
  48. Session:Soil degradation and rapid change are faced across Africa, and require attention to both old and new technologies. Over two decades of action research with farmers in Malawi has shown that smallholder food production and nutrition can be improved through biological principles and targeted...
  49. No pseudoscience, just hard data presented in a well organized manner. This is a great book for the farmer, gardener, or landscaper who has a working knowledge of fertilizing and wishes to take their expertise to the next level.
  50. Four nutrient deficiencies--phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen, and magnesium--can be diagnosed by observing maize leaves. This document includes photos of a healthy maize leaf and of maize leaves demonstrating each of these nutrient deficiencies. It also contains suggestions for how to address each...
  51. Soil living organisms, including the large-sized (macrofauna) and small-/medium-sized (mesofauna) organisms, among others, play important roles in improving soil conditions and driving ecosystem stability, nutrient availability, and improvement of soil fertility. These organisms can break down...
  52. AccessAgriculture Training Video To resolve the problems of poor soil fertility and to fight against the striga weed with limited means, some farmers in Niger apply micro-doses to their sorghum and millet crops. Compared to broadcasting, the localised application of micro-doses requires less...
  53. Abstract,Applied Soil Ecology, 2019 Soils account for >80% and 20% of the total agricultural N2O and CO2emissions respectively. Soil management activities that target improved soil health, such as enhancing earthworm activity, may also stimulate further emissions of CO2and N2O. One recommended...
  54. During his years as a scientist working for the British government in India, Sir Albert Howard conceived of and refined the principles of organic agriculture. Howard's The Soil and Health became a seminal and inspirational text in the organic movement soon after its publication in 1945. The Soil...
  55. The object of the book was to draw attention to the loss of soil fertility, brought about by the vast increase in crop and animal production, that has led to such disastrous consequences as a general unbalancing of farming practices, an increase in plant and animal diseases and the loss of soil...
  56. The objective of this publication is to summarize results of field research carried out in Brazil, Peru, Puerto Rico, Colombia, and Ghana as it relates to potassium fertilization on Ultisols and Oxisols.
  57. This booklet tells why organic matter in the soil may be considered our most important national resource. The author describes how it furnishes fuel for bacterial wrecking crews and how it is turned into plant nutrients. He shows that many of our farm practices have enormously reduced the supply...
  58. The purpose of this bulletin is to describe methods applied to utilize nitrogen-fixing systems in soil improvement and management and the consequent increases in crop yields obtainable by these methods. The rest of the integrated systems involved i.e. chemical and physcial manipulations, are...
  59. Field experiments in Kentucky show significant danger in using the Magdoff nitrate test as presently promulgated. The most serious problem seems to be associated with soils which are less than well-drained. It probably is associated with slower nitrification, greater denitrification, greater...
  60. Although it's not too easy, good garden soil has to be achieved and then maintained by a continuous program of good growing practices. The first step in this program is to find out the specific needs of your soil through soil testing. This booklet starts at the beginning and explains how to have...
  61. 2019-11-26 Session: Conservation agriculture (CA) (zero tillage + organic inputs as surface residue) is believed to improve soil nutrient status, soil structure, control soil erosion, and also enhance soil fauna diversity. Despite the widespread interest in CA, empirical evidence of the benefits of CA on...
  62. Two long-term experiments (11 years) showed the intriguing ability ofG. senegalensis and P. reticulatum(optimized at ~1000 to 1500 shrubs ha-1 with residue returnedto soil) to dramatically increase yields of groundnut and millet, with or without fertilizer additions and maintain yields in drought...
  63. The Biochar for Sustainable Soils (B4SS) is a medium-sized project funded by theGlobal Environment Facility(GEF) under the Land Degradation Focal Area in the GEF-5 Strategies. The United Nations Development Programme (UNEP) is the implementing agency, whereasStarfish Initiativesis the executing...
  64. Abstract, Academic Journals, 2018 This paper reviews the impact of soil and water conservation (SWC) measures on crop yield, soil properties, water resources and carbon sequestration. Land degradation due to soil erosion in Ethiopia is too severe which affects the livelihood of a community and...
  65. Session: Conservation agriculture (CA) (zero tillage + organic inputs as surface residue) is believed to improve soil nutrient status, soil structure, control soil erosion, and also enhance soil fauna diversity. Despite the widespread interest in CA, empirical evidence of the benefits of CA on...
  66. Key Resource 2012-11-14 The UNCCD estimates that over 250 million people are affected by land degradation, and about 1 billion people in over 100 countries are at risk. According to the WMO, 33% of the world’s land surface is vulnerable to land degradation.Degraded lands lead to overall reduced productivity and reduced...
  67. It is difficult to rate the importance of the different soil functions, since all are vital to our well-being, to some extent. However, the function ofsupportingfood andagricultureworldwide is fundamental for the preservation and advancement of human life on this planet. Soil is also the basis...
  68. Abstract, PLoS One, 2017 Sustainability of maize-based cropping systems is a major challenge for southern Africa, yet the demand for maize as staple food and animal feed in the region continues to increase. A study was conducted on a sandy clay loam (220 g clay kg-1soil) at Domboshawa in Zimbabwe...
  69. We recognize that poverty in the developing world is multifaceted. For example, saying water security invariably stimulates one to think about the quality of drinking water. This is a serious problem world wide, however, this is not our focus. Spring Rains is targeted at nutritional food...
  70. 2016-08-17 Farmers and gardeners in semi-arid and arid regions of the world face two associated but separate problems, which limit the crops they can grow and the yield of these crops. The underlying problem is lack of rainfall needed for growing plants. The second is accumulation of salts in the root zone....
  71. Key Resource 2013-06-01 Rick Burnette wrote an article for Issue 7(July 2010) of ECHO Asia Notes, titled “Charcoal Production in 200-Liter Horizontal Drum Kilns.” My article takes the charring process a step further by exploring the rapidly re-emerging world of biochar. Biochar is a form of charcoal, produced through...
  72. Key Resource 2014-01-01 In order to achieve high levels of agricultural productivity in the tropics at the lowest possible economic and ecological costs, we need to properly understand the relationship between nutrients in the soil and crop productivity. For this to happen, the current understanding needs to change. The...
  73. Abstract, PLOSone, 2019 Knowledge of the geographical distribution of soils is indispensable for policy and decision makers to achieve the goal of increasing agricultural production and reduce poverty, particularly in the Global South. A study was conducted to better understand the soilscapes of...
  74. Abstract, PeerJ, 2019 We found that nitrogen addition affected the soil microbial community structure, and that microbial biomass increased significantly once 100 kgha1a1of nitrogen was added. The interactions between nitrogen addition and plant inputs removal significantly affected soil bacteria...
  75. 2020-08-31 This article is from ECHO Asia Note #43 There are many ways to discuss soil ecosystems, and numerous physical, chemical, and biological terms can become overwhelming. I favor an overall concept called ‘soil health’ because it reminds us soil is alive, and like all living systems, can range from...
  76. 2019-01-29 More than 4 million people in the West African Sahel are facing hardship following dry spells and increased food prices. In June, the FAO sent nearly $10 million in aid for drought-stricken farmers in the region, who depend upon rainfed agriculture. Recurring drought, increased populations, and...