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This question was asked by: Mr. Kimutai Sogomo

Question asked:

Type of acidic soils in kenya and their management practices for crop production


Acid soils

The intensity of soil acidity or alkalinity is expressed in pH. pH-H2O of 7 is neutral, while lower pH values indicate acidity and high values(>7) ( show alkalinity. Soil acidity is common in all regions where precipitation is high enough to each appreciable amounts of exchangeable bases from the surface of soils. The types of acidic soils in Kenya are Acrisols, Andosols, Arenosols, Cambisols, Chernozems, Ferralsols, Gleysols, Leptosols, Luvisols, Nitisols, Phaeozems, Planosols, Vertisols, Lixisols, Fluvisols, Alisols, Calcisols, Solonetz and Regosols. These soils have pH-H2O ranging from 4.5 to 6.9 and pH-KCl ranging from 3.9 to 6.3. The soil pH-H2O that is critical for plant growth is below 5.5. It is important to measure the exchangeable acidity (in a soil testing lab) of such soils in order to determine their liming requirements.

Management practices of acid soils for crop production 

Liming: When lime (oxides, hydroxides or carbonate of calcium and magnesium) is added in acid soils with pH-H2O values less than 5.5, the soil pH will increase as well as nutrients (bases especially calcium and magnesium) availability to crops.

Manuring:  There is need to add manure to acidic soils with low organic matter I order to provide food for soil micro-organisms because they are responsible for biological soil processes. Besides, this will add plant nutrients and improve soil structure and water holding capacity.

Conventional soil and water management practices:  Besides the above soil management practices, other conventional soil and water management practices such as terracing, contour farming, use of fertilizers, trashlines, stonelines and grass strips among others are applicable to management of acidic soils.