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|Title:||A cation exchange index for assessing degradation of acid soil by further acidification under permanent agriculture in the tropics|
|Authors:||Noble, A D.|
|Abstract:||Soil acidification and related land degradation are becoming more important worldwide and are challenging the concept of sustainability of current land management systems. We have studied the impact on soil properties of two management systems, one in a tropical savanna, the other in a humid subtropical environment, particularly in relation to their cation chemistry. In Northeast Thailand the properties of an Acrisol cleared of dipterocarp forest some 37 years previously and used for continuous crop production are compared with adjacent undisturbed forest. In southern Queensland, Australia, the properties of a Luvisol used for intensive pasture production for 36 years are compared with those prior to introduction of the management system. Under both regimes, the soil pH fell by about 1 unit, with an increase in aluminium saturation of the cation exchange complex. Organic carbon in the Acrisol greatly decreased, but in the Luvisol it increased significantly. Consequently, the effects on surface charge characteristics were strikingly different, in that the Acrisol had been almost irreversibly degraded, whereas acidification and base diminution in the Luvisol can be easily reversed through conventional management. The amount of degradation caused by each management system has been quantified in terms of a Saturation Index, S-u: S-u = 100 x (C-u5.5 - Sigma)/C-u5.5, where C-u5.5 refers to the cation exchange capacity on the undisturbed (forested) site and Sigma is the sum of the base cations at field pH. This index encompasses an assessment of the degree of degradation taking into account the previous land use, in this case forest, and that due to anthropogenic disturbance. For the Queensland Luvisol S-u does not change, because the pasture management has not appreciably altered the CEC at pH 5.5. However, for the Thailand site S-u increased from 0 to 86%. Consequently in its present state, the surface horizon of this cultivated soil can retain only about 15% of the basic cations it could ideally hold under undisturbed conditions.|
|Journal Title:||European Journal of Soil Science|
|Appears in Collections:||North Coast Local Land Services|
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