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Soil degradation and related production constraints

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 The country accounts for >2 % of world soil resources with ample diversity in agro climatic condition for producing wide range of crops and vegetation. Several soil and management related constraints, however, hinder sustainable production of food and fodder. Physical degradation like soil erosion, soil crusting and compaction, chemical degradation like loss of organic matter, soil fertility, multi nutrient depletion and deficiencies, salt accumulation, pollution, etc., are some of the major soil and management-related problems reported which account for nearly 60% (188 M.ha) of the total land area (Table).

Soil group

Soil order

Land area

Soil related constraints

Red and lateritic soils



Erosion by water, weak soil structure, nutrient imbalances, low OM, crusting, compaction, acidification, P fixation, loss of bases (Ca, K, Mg), nutrient (Fe, Al, Mn, H2S) toxicities

Black soils

Vertisols, Inceptisols


Massive structure, poor tilth, drought stress, water erosion, nutrient deficiencies, salt accumulation, 

Tarai Soils



Micronutrient deficiency,

Alluvial soils

Entisols, Inceptsols


Erosion, nutrient depletion, low OM, secondary salinization

Desert soils

Aridisols, Entisols


Drought stress, nutrient depletion, wind erosion, desertification, secondary salinization

Soil acidification is a natural soil-forming process accelerated by high rainfall, low evaporation, leaching of bases, and high oxidative biological activity that produces acid. The soil acidity plays major role in determining the nutrient availability to plants and in many instances by specific mineral stress problems. Production constraints are more intense on acid soils, which cover 30% of the world’s land area. Acid soil infertility is a syndrome of problems that affect plant growth in soils with low pH. This complex of problems arises from toxicities and deficiencies in acid soils are related to:
  1. Presence of the toxic concentration of Al and to a lesser extent Mn toxicity in many species,
  2. Deficiency of bases (Ca, Mg, K) and their poor retention power,
  3. High P fixation capacity of soil caused by highly active Al and Fe surfaces, rendering it unavailable to plants,
  4. Deficiency of Mo, especially for the growth of legumes,
  5. Reduction of soil biological activities,
  6. Impairment of N2-fixation by legumes caused by poor survival of microsymbiont and inhibition of nodulation, and
  7. Fe and Mn toxicities in submerged rice.

File Courtesy: 
Brajendra and Vijai Pal Bhadana Directorate of Rice Research, Hyderabad - Published in Rice Knowledge Management for Food and Nutritional Food Security
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