Soil Surface Management in the Tropics for Intensive Land Use and High and Sustained Production

Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Soil Science book series (SOIL, volume 5)


The tropics cover about 40% of the earth’s surface. With few exceptions, most soils of these regions are characterized by low yields and are susceptible to a rapid decline in soil productivity. The latter is associated with degradation of soil quality by intensive land use. Because of the severe soil constraints, national yield averages in tropical Africa rarely show an upward trend despite improved cultivars and agrochemical inputs. Agricultural scientists and planners are increasingly concerned about the severe lag in food production, in view of the ever-increasing demand. Consequently the potential and capability of soils to sustain high production with intensive management and continuous cultivation are being questioned. The important issues to be resolved are: Are soils of the tropics capable of sustaining high and economical production? If yes, with what methods of soil and crop management and by which farming systems? What is the approach to be adopted in transforming inefficient, low-production, and subsistence traditional agriculture into a sustainable commercial enterprise? Can this approach provide the basic necessities of life and meet the aspirations of modern society and yet maintain ecological stability and preserve the natural resource? The objective of this report is to describe soil resources of the tropics, assess their potential and constraints, and review state of the art knowledge concerning the improved systems of management for high production.


Soil Erosion Soil Loss Soil Organic Matter Content Land Clearing Traditional Farming System 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Lal
    • 1
  1. 1.International Institute of Tropical AgricultureIbadanNigeria

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