[permaculture] Question about acidic soils in the tropics...

ERDA Institute erda at nor.com.au
Sun Mar 9 18:05:13 EST 2003

Temperate strategies have limited application for high rainfall tropics -
warm temperatures and high rainfall = constant leaching.
To reduce negative impact of low pH add light applications of agricultural
lime or dolomite (the latter if magnesium deficiency) - if these are
unavailable use some wood ash but only very light applications - very
alkaline. If you can access some natural gypsum, a light application after
the wet season is most beneficial.
Focus on living mulches (maku lotus, tropical clovers, local native ground
covers) and tropical tree and shrub legumes that can be cut back (coppiced)
regularly to build up mulch - organic matter breaks down fast in these
climates so the trick is to have lots of living plants to cycle and store
nutrients in the system.
Good shrub legumes include perennial pigeon pea and crotalarias - you can
establish vegies and fruit trees between them and cutting the back also
released nitrogen for the food plants as well as protective mulch. The main
thing with mulches is to suppress competitive weeds and protect the soil
from impact of rain (soil & nutrient loss).
If you use manures and composts, light applications every 6 weeks or so
during rainy season rather than one big seasonal one (you'll lose most of
the nutrient through leaching so just give the system what it can use)
You won't get the same humus development in the soil as in temperate
Hope this helps
Robyn Francis

on 11/3/03 5:05 AM, darko nikolic at seaturtle333 at yahoo.com wrote:

> Does anyone know about the best approach to
> establishing a food production system in the
> Panamanian high rainforest. The soil is acidic and
> quite leached out due to overgrazing and high
> rainfall.
> My main question is how to deal with the soil?
> Thanks,
> Darko Nikolic
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