Soil Management: Conclusions

Cultivation of plantation tree crops is still expanding rapidly in south-east Asia, particularly in Malaysia and Indonesia. A diversified range of soils is used with increasing proportion of marginal soils. It is vital that good soil management is implemented to ensure high sustainable production for economic viability and maintain or improve soil fertility. There is also a growing concern on soil degradation and environmental pollution with high inputs agriculture but these can be avoided with good soil management.

The first approach in soil management is to identify the soil constraints to crop production and assess their degree of severity. In the humid tropics, these detriments are closely related to nutrients and water which are the most limiting factors to crop productivity. Both are available via the soil to the plants, particularly those with good rooting activity.

The rooting activity of plants are influenced by many soil properties such as terrain, texture, structure, consistency, permeability, drainage and inherent nutrients. They require interactive management approach to achieve the basic objectives of crop productivity and maintenance of soil fertility and to do so in an environmentally acceptable way. These soil management approaches encompass soil and water conservation management, soil fertility management, soil acidity management and soil water management.

The concepts of good soil management is nothing new and best exemplified by the following quotation from Sanskrit, the classical, literary language developed from about 1500 B.C. by the Hindus in Northern India (Johnson, 1995).

“Upon this handful of soil our survival depends. Husband it and it will grow our food, our fuel and our shelter and surround us with beauty. Abuse it and the soil will collapse and die taking man with it”.

This adage which has evolved through time, still poignantly encapsulates a major concern today; so when will man learn to ensure plentiful food and beauty for the generations to come, if it is not now.