A review of options for using organic soil amendments to raise crop productivity in East Sumba, Indonesia

Graham Eagleton Viewed 125 times, Downloaded 186 times

Abstract


This review of published research focuses attention on the question of whether natural resources available in East Sumba, Nusa Tenggara Timor, Indonesia, can provide for organic soil amendment practices that will raise crop productivity and hence standards of living of people in the Regency. It examines the principles and practice of organic soil amendment against the background of soil erosion that some forms of land-use have wrought within the semi-arid tropical zone of southern Indonesia. Organic soil amendment is more than a question of providing plant-available macronutrients; it is about creating the optimum ecological conditions for crops to thrive repeatedly over the years and about increasing the food security of people dependent on the crops. Crop yields in east Sumba are as much constrained by seasonal limitations in available moisture and very likely by specific micronutrient deficiencies as they are by low levels of macronutrients. In this review, organic soil amendments in the broadest sense are catalogued, and attention is focused particularly on what the international literature tells us about the kinds of plant-based organic materials that best contribute to the long-term rebuilding of soil organic matter in tropical lands degraded by past erosive land-use practices. Crop productivity can be increased by (1) matching crop choice (at variety, species and crop community levels) to identified environmental niches, by (2) modifying crop growing environments to reduce plant stress from moisture and specific nutrient deficiencies, and with (3) novel approaches that promote beneficial synergies between organisms within crop ecosystems.


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