|Sustainable Management of Soil Resources in the Humid Tropics (UNU, 1995, 146 pages)|
|V. Characteristics of an improved cropping/farming system|
|C. Sustaining soil productivity|
Because of a shortage of prime agricultural land, an increase in production in several countries will have to be achieved by more intensive cultivation of land already developed (Ruttan, 1987). Furthermore, vast areas of land previously developed from TRF have been degraded because of land misuse, adoption of productivity-mining cultural practices, and use of resource based rather than science-based production systems. It is important to restore the productive capacity of these lands so that the need for deforestation and bringing new land under cultivation can be minimized. Restoring these lands requires:
- controlling soil erosion through runoff management and ground cover establishment;
- improving soil structure through appropriate measures of soil surface management;
- establishing vegetative cover through growing an appropriate combination of aggressively growing cover crops and quick-growing perennials;
- replenishing plant nutrients lost out of the ecosystem; and preventing additional losses of water and nutrients from the ecosystem.
Once restored, the land should be managed judiciously to maintain its productive capacity, life-support systems, and environmental regulatory mechanisms.
The following chapters elaborate innovative technological options relevant to these strategies.