Arit Efretuei

Rock Phosphate

Phosphorus is needed by plants in relatively large amounts; this is why it is classified as a primary plant nutrient. It plays a key role in photosynthesis, carbon metabolism and nitrogen fixation. It is also a key component of nucleic acids-DNA and RNA. When phosphorus is deficient in a plant the following symptoms show: – Dark-green colouration in leaves- the dark green colour is as a result of high carbohydrate […]

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Restoring Heavy Metal Contaminated Soils Using Compost

Metals become contaminants when their amounts in soil, reach levels that are toxic to human life, plants or other biological organisms. This creates a need for soil remediation. Remediation is the process of reducing the toxicity of contaminants or ridding the soil completely of toxic contaminants. Heavy metals (for example, arsenic, cadmium, lead and zinc) fall under the group of inorganic chemical contaminants (5). These metals are released into the […]

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Biochar-Mineral Complex and Compost Influences Soil Bacteria and Quality

Biochar is a carbon rich substance produced from pyrolysis-a process involving thermal degradation of biomass (such as manure, leaves, wood) in the absence of oxygen. It is used as a soil enhancer in agriculture because it has the capacity to enhance crop growth by retaining nutrients in the soil for crop uptake (1,2,3). Biochar is also gaining popularity because it has the potential to reduce emission of nitrous-oxide a potent […]

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When Chlorosis is Caused by Nitrogen Deficiency

Chlorosis is a condition in plants where the leaves have yellowish colouration due to insufficient amount of chlorophyll in their cells. Chlorosis can be caused by a number of reasons including; deficiency of nutrients (such as iron, nitrogen, manganese, zinc), disease infestation, damaged roots, high soil alkalinity and compacted roots (1). This article concentrates on chlorosis due to nitrogen deficiency in plants. Why does nitrogen deficiency cause yellowing? To understand […]

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Phytoremediation

Phytoremediation is a biological technique used to restore polluted water and soil environments to their natural state. It involves the use of living plants and their related micro organisms to remove contaminants from the environment or to degrade contaminants to a lesser toxic form (1,2,6). Anthropogenic activities such as mine tailings, fertilizer applications, pesticides, heavy metal disposal, petrochemicals, animal manures and sewage sludges cause soil pollution (2,4,5). Heavy metals are […]

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The Rhizosphere

The rhizosphere is the word used to describe the area of soil surrounding plant roots. It is the most biologically active layer of the soil; populated with micro organisms interacting and benefiting from chemicals released by plant roots (1,2,7). There are more micro organisms present in a teaspoon of soil than there are people on the earth; the rhizosphere can carry 1000-2000 times this amount making it highly populated with […]

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Soil Salinity and Management

The problem of soil salinity has existed for centuries. History records that the collapse of ancient Mesopotamia was partly due to crop failure caused by saline soils (1). Saline soils contain high accumulation of soluble salts; which include sulphates, carbonates, chlorides and in some cases nitrates of calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium (2, 3). When there is a high build-up of sodium salts the soil is said to be sodic. […]

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Growing Rice with Organic Fertilizers

Rice is one of the world’s most consumed cereal crop. It is a staple food for many Asian, African, Latin American and Caribbean countries; with approximately 90% of the world’s production and consumption of rice coming from Asia (1). Rice is usually classified according to its growing environment (Lowland and upland rice grown in lowlands and uplands) or according to its water source (rain fed and irrigated rice). Organic rice […]

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Anaerobic Soils – What You Need to Know

Anaerobic soils are found on natural wetlands, floodplains, swamps, peatlands, and disturbed crop lands or even in our back gardens. Aerobic soils have particle arrangement which allows for free movement of air within its pores (open spaces between soil particles). On the contrary, anaerobic soils have restricted flow of air within its soil pores, owing to a high moisture or water table level. Soils can be temporarily anaerobic- like water […]

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Soil Compaction II: Effects, Prevention and Control

In the previous article about soil compaction we discussed briefly the causes of soil compaction, the different levels and various ways of detecting a compacted soil. In this article we will discuss the effects of compaction as well as methods of prevention and control. Effects of soil compaction • Soil structure: Soil is made up of sand, silt, clay and organic material. The way in which these particles are arranged […]

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Soil Compaction I: An Introduction

Soil compaction occurs when the amount of open spaces between soil particles (referred to as porosity) is reduced, and soils become denser, physically hard, and more difficult to permeate.(1) Soil compaction can be induced by a natural cause (as with the case of heavy impact of rain drops) or by anthropogenic causes including; excessive machinery use, intensive cropping, short crop rotations, intensive grazing and poor soil management.(2,3) A compacted soil […]

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How To Know When Your Soil Needs Nitrogen

Nitrogen deposited in the soil may undergo mineralization; this is the conversion of organic nitrogen to inorganic plant available forms (nitrate (NO3-) and ammonium (NH4+)).1 Nitrate is a highly mobile nutrient in the soil. It is negatively charged and so cannot be held on to by negatively charged soil (clay and silt) particles. This is why it is vulnerable to being leached down the soil profile. Nitrogen is a necessity […]

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