Favorable Soil pH: Does it Really Increase Nutrient Use Efficiency?
More than ever agriculture needs to follow principles of sustainability that ensure build up and maintenance of long-term soil productivity, writes Dr. Luís Ignácio Prochnow, Director, Brazil, International Plant Nutrition Institute. The benefits of high soil productivity include efficient use of crop inputs, environmental protection, social benefits to stakeholders, and greater farmer profits.
Many soils around the world have a natural tendency to become acidic with time. Many factors, natural and managed, contribute to this increase in soil acidity. Soil acidity is especially widespread in tropical regions due to climates that cause intense weathering of soils. It is estimated that about 30% of soils in the world are acidic, but these regions still represent some of our most important food-producing centers.
On soils where acidity limits crop yields, soil acidity amelioration constitutes an important best management practice to achieve sustainability. Soil acidity can slow crop development and reduce yield. Contributing factors to acidity damage include its negative impacts on soil physical and biological properties, high toxicities of elements like aluminum, iron, and manganese, and reduced effectiveness of certain herbicides and availability of plant nutrients.