| Soils, Crops and Fertilizer Use |
|About this manual|
|Chapter 1: Down to earth - Some Important Soil Basics|
|What is soil, anyway?|
|Why do soils vary so much?|
|Topsoil vs. subsoil|
|The mineral side of soil: sand, silt, and clay|
|Distinguishing "tropical" soils from "temperate" soils|
|Organic matter - a soil's best friend|
|The role of soil microorganisms|
|Chapter 2: Trouble-shooting soil physical problems|
|Getting to know the soils in your area|
|Soil water-holding capacity|
|Chapter 3: Basic soil conservation practices|
|Chapter 4: Seedbed preparation|
|The what and why of tillage|
|Common tillage equipment|
|The abuses of tillage and how to avoid them|
|Making the right seedbed for the crop, soil, and climate|
|How deep should land be tilled?|
|How fine a seedbed?|
|Some handy seedbed skills for intensive vegetable production|
|Chapter 5: Watering vegetables: When? How Often? How Much?|
|It pays to use water wisely|
|Some common watering mistakes and their effects|
|Factors influencing plant water needs|
|Ok, so get to the point! how much water do plants need and how often?|
|Some methods for improving water use efficiency|
|Chapter 6: Soil fertility and plant nutrition simplified|
|Let's Make a Deal|
|How plants grow|
|Available vs. unavailable forms of mineral nutrients|
|Soil negative charge and nutrient holding ability|
|Soil pH and how it affects crops growth|
|Important facts on the plant nutrients|
|Chapter 7: Evaluating a soil's fertility|
|Plant tissue testing|
|Using visual "hunger signs"|
|Chapter 8: Using organic fertilizers and soil conditioners|
|What are organic fertilizers?|
|Organic vs. chemical fertilizers: which are best?|
|Some examples of successful farming using organic fertilizers|
|How to use organic fertilizers and soil conditioners|
|Chapter 9: Using chemical fertilizers|
|What are chemical fertilizers?|
|Are chemical fertilizers appropriate for limited-resource farmers?|
|An introduction to chemical fertilizers|
|Common chemical fertilizers and their characteristics|
|The effect of fertilizers on soil pH|
|Fertilizer salt index and "burn" potential|
|Basic application principles for N, P, and K|
|Fertilizer application methods explained and compared|
|Troubleshooting faulty fertilizer practices|
|Getting the most out of fertilizer use: crop management as an integrated system|
|Understanding fertilizer math|
|Chapter 10: Fertilizer guidelines for specific crops|
|Pulses (grain legumes)|
|Tropical fruit crops|
|Chapter 11: Liming soils|
|The purpose of liming|
|When is liming needed?|
|How to measure soil pH|
|How to calculate the actual amount of lime needed|
|How and when to lime|
|Chapter 12: Salinity and alkalinity problems|
|How salinity and alkalinity harm crop growth|
|Lab diagnosis of salinity and alkalinity|
|Appendix A: Useful measurements and conversions|
|Appendix B: How to determine soil moisture content|
|Appendix C: Spacing guide for contour ditches and other erosion barriers*|
|Appendix D: Composition of common chemical fertilizers|
|Appendix E: Hunger signs in common crops|
|Appendix F: Legumes for green manuring and cover-cropping in tropical and subtropical regions|
|Appendix G: Some sources of technical support|
|Appendix H: A bibliography of useful references|
Soils, Crops. and Fertilizer Use is a field-oriented manual designed for use by generalists and specialists working with limited-resource farmers and gardeners. It's also well suited as a practical textbook for high school and university-level students.
This 4th edition is twice the size of the 3rd and is a completely new manual in many respects:
• It has been reorganized to enhance comprehension and readability.
• It is more extension-oriented with a stronger emphasis on limited-resource farmers.
• It promotes technical "networking" and grass-roots experimentation. A new appendix has been devoted to sources of technical support.
• It reflects the latest advances in technology, based on research and on-farm experience in many Third World countries.
• The chapter on organic fertilizers has been markedly revised and expanded to include indepth coverage of composting, animal manures, manure tea, green manures, and cover crops.
• This edition uses the metric systems for two reasons. First, it's the official measurement system in many Third World countries. Second, most farm math calculations-especially fertilizer math--are far simpler and quicker using metrics.
How to Use This Manual
First of all, don't be intimidated by the manual's size, especially if you're a generalist with little or no ag background. Here are some suggestions for effectively accessing the manual's information:
• Begin by looking over the Table of Contents to see what subjects are covered and how the manual is organized.
• Note that the manual has a detailed index whose purpose is to improve information accessibility.
• Don't forget about the appendix section. It contains very useful information, yet is easily forgotten about unless you realize what's there.
• If you have little or no background, I urge you to read the manual from start to finish. If you're an agronomist or horticulturist, you may find it more useful to access information by using the index.
A Request for Feedback
I'd appreciate hearing your comments and suggestions concerning the manual. I'm also interested in learning about other soil management and fertilizer use practices that have proven successful for limited-resource farmers in your area.
David Leonard P.O. Box 559 Frogmore, SC 29920 USA