Assessing soil fertility decline in the tropics using soil chemical data

A.E. Hartemink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


Soil fertility decline is perceived to be widespread in the upland soils of the tropics, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Most studies have used nutrient balances to assess the degree and extent of nutrient depletion; these have created awareness but suffer methodological problems as several of the nutrient flows and stocks are not measured. This chapter focuses on the assessment of soil fertility decline using soil chemical data (pH, organic C, total N, available P, cation exchange capacity (CEC), and exchangeable cations) that are routinely collected in soil surveys or for the assessment of fertilizer recommendations. Soil fertility decline can be assessed using a set of properties from different periods at the same site or from different land-use systems with the same soils. The former is easier to interpret; the latter can be rapidly collected but differences may be due to inherent differences and not have resulted from soil management. This study provides an analytical framework for the assessment of soil fertility decline and shows pitfalls and how they should be handled. Boundary conditions are presented that could be used in future studies on soil fertility management and crop productivity in the tropics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-225
JournalAdvances in Agronomy
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • papua-new-guinea
  • sustainable land management
  • nutrient balances
  • organic-matter
  • sugar-cane
  • precision agriculture
  • physical-properties
  • inorganic nitrogen
  • brazilian amazon
  • forest ecosystem

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Assessing soil fertility decline in the tropics using soil chemical data'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this