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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Soil degradation in the Philippines

Soil degradation is a severe global problem of modern times. About 6 million hectares of
agricultural land worldwide become unproductive every year due to the various soil degradation
processes. The problem is much more serious in tropical than in temperate areas since tropical
soils are more prone to degradation because of the nature of their properties and the prevalent
climatic conditions. Countries in Asia and Africa that depend upon agriculture as the engine of
economic growth are believed to suffer the greatest impact of soil degradation. In the
Philippines, soil degradation is one of the most serious ecological problems today. Also, the
National Action Plan (NAP) for 2004 to 2010 identified soil degradation as a major threat to food
security in the country. NAP reported that about 5.2 million hectares are seriously degraded
resulting to 30 to 50% reduction in soil productivity.

Soil degradation is defined as the process which lowers the current or future capacity of the soil
to produce goods or services. It implies long-term decline in soil productivity and its
environment-moderating capacity. The concept of soil degradation was first used by Kostychiev
and Korchinski in 1888 to describe a natural soil change. Since natural degradation is slow, the
present concept of soil degradation according to the Global Assessment of Soil Degradation

(GLASOD) focuses on a human-induced process. Soil degradation occurs because of drastic

changes or disruption in the normal processes of soil formation due to human activities.
In a review paper on the problem of soil degradation in the Philippines published in the Annals
of Tropical Research vol. 31, we (Asio et al) revealed that soil erosion is the most widespread
process of soil degradation and is also the most studied in the country. Other important but less
studied soil degradation processes include loss of nutrients and organic matter, salinization,
acidification, pollution, compaction, and subsidence. Studies reviewed have shown that the wide

spread degraded upland soils possess chemical

and physical constraints for crop growth like acidic or calcareous pH, low organic matter and
nutrient contents, shallow solum, presence of toxic substances and compaction.
There is a need for more data on the physical and socio-economic characteristics of degraded
lands to aid in the formulation of appropriate soil management strategies to support biodiesel
production in these unproductive lands which is now being promoted by the Philippine
government. Also, there is the danger that the use of the degraded lands for intensive and longterm biodiesel production without the appropriate soil management would cause further soil
deterioration and thus aggravate the ecological problems that are now occurring.
Asio VB, Jahn R, Perez FO, Navarrete IA, and Abit SM Jr. 2009. A review of soil degradation in
the Philippines. Annals of Tropical Research 31: 69-94
Posted by Victor B. Asio at 10:57 AM
Labels: Soil degradation, Soil fertility, Soil functions, Tropical island soils

Last time, we discussed basic soil facts that you need to know before you started digging around
in your garden. This time, were going to look at different soil types and how to determine the
kind of soil thatll be host to your plants.
There are 5 different soil types that gardeners and growers usually work with. All five is a
combination of just three types of weathered rock particles that make up the soil: sand, silt, and
clay. How these three particles are combined defines your soils typehow it feels to the touch,
how it holds water, and how its managed, among other things.

1. Soil Type: Sandy

Sandy soil has the largest particles among the different soil types. Its dry and gritty to the touch,
and because the particles have huge spaces between them, it cant hold on to water.
Water drains rapidly, straight through to places where the roots, particularly those of seedlings,
cannot reach. Plants dont have a chance of using the nutrients in sandy soil more efficiently as
theyre swiftly carried away by the runoff.
The upside to sandy soil is that its light to work with and warms much more quickly in the
Testing what type of soil youre working with involves moistening the soil and rolling it into a
ball to check the predominating soil particle. When you roll the slightly wet sandy soil in your
palms, no ball should be formed and it crumbles through your fingers easily.

2. Soil Type: Silty

Silty soil has much smaller particles than sandy soil so its smooth to the touch. When moistened,
its soapy slick. When you roll it between your fingers, dirt is left on your skin.

Silty soil retains water longer, but it cant hold on to as much nutrients as youd want it to though
its fairly fertile. Due to its moisture-retentive quality, silty soil is cold and drains poorly.
Silty soil can also easily compact, so avoid trampling on it when working your garden. It can
become poorly aerated, too.

3. Soil Type: Clay

Clay soil has the smallest particles among the three so it has good water storage qualities. Its
sticky to the touch when wet, but smooth when dry.
Due to the tiny size of its particles and its tendency to settle together, little air passes through its
spaces. Because its also slower to drain, it has a tighter hold on plant nutrients. Clay soil is thus
rich in plant food for better growth.
Clay soil is cold and in the spring, takes time to warm since the water within also has to warm
up. The downside is that clay soil could be very heavy to work with when it gets dry. Especially
during the summer months, it could turn hard and compact, making it difficult to turn. (When
clay soil is worked while its too wet though, its prone to damage).
If moistened soil feels sticky, rolls up easily, and forms into a ball or sausage-like shape, then
youve got yourself clay.

4. Soil Type: Peaty

Peaty soil is dark brown or black in color, soft, easily compressed due to its high water content,
and rich in organic matter. Peat soil started forming over 9,000 years ago, with the rapid melting
of glaciers. This rapid melt drowned plants quickly and died in the process. Their decay was so
slow underwater that it led to the accumulation of organic area in a concentrated spot.
Although peat soil tends to be heavily saturated with water, once drained, it turns into a good
growing medium. In the summer though, peat could be very dry and become a fire hazard. (I kid
you notpeat is the precursor of coal.) The most desirable quality of peat soil, however, is in its
ability to hold water in during the dry months and its capacity to protect the roots from damage
during very wet months.
Peat contains acidic water, but growers use it to regulate soil chemistry or pH levels as well as an
agent of disease control for the soil.
When wet peat soil is rolled, you wont form a ball. Its spongy to the touch and when squeezed,
water could be forced out.

5. Soil Type: Saline Soil

The soil in extremely dry regions is usually brackish because of its high salt content. Known as
saline soil, it can cause damage to and stall plant growth, impede germination, and cause
difficulties in irrigation.
The salinity is due to the buildup of soluble salts in the rhizospherehigh salt contents prevent
water uptake by plants, leading to drought stress.
Its easy enough to test if you have saline soil. Youll probably see a white layer coating the
surface of the soil, your plants are growing poorly, and theyre suffering from leaf tip burn,
especially on young leaves.

The Ideal Soil Type: Loam

The type of soil that gardens and gardeners love is loamy soil. It contains a balance of all three
soil materialssilt, sand and clayplus humus. It has a higher pH and calcium levels because of
its previous organic matter content.
Loam is dark in color and is mealysoft, dry and crumblyin your hands. It has a tight hold on
water and plant food but it drains well, and air moves freely between soil particles down to the
The feel test for loam yields a smooth, partly gritty, partly sticky ball that crumbles easily.
Although loamy soil is the ideal material to work with, dont despair if you dont have it in your
garden. Thats because soil will always favor one particles size over the two others. Then again,
there are many ways to condition your soiladding beneficial soil inoculants, covering your soil
with compost, or simply spraying leaves and soil with compost tea.

Soil Test

Find out what your soil needs first!

It all starts with the soil. Whether youre gardening 10 sq ft or farming thousands of acres, smart
growers know that soil tests pay for themselves in increased productivity and targeted fertilizing
made possible by a specific diagnosis of the soils strengths and weaknesses. Whether you send
in a soil sample for professional lab soil testing, buy a DIY soil test kit, or make use of a
specialized meter, good growing starts with good soil.

Know Organic
Field test tools take full advantage of some of the best science out there. The general principle of
most of these tools and test kits is to measure particular properties of a solution. Solutions are
made by combining soil, fertilizer, organics (leaves, composts, etc.) with distilled water. Once
the properties of your soil and plants are known you will have new information about the health,
fertility, maturity and activity of your crops and soil. The glossary below will help you to
understand the basics of what these devices can measure and how that knowledge gives you a
greener thumb.

pH - This measurement of acidity or alkalinity ranges from 1 (most acid) to 7

(neutral) to 14 (most Inalkaline). It is likely that your soil is in the 5 to 8.5
range. soil, pH extremes limit biological activity, humus formation, and plant
growth. Frequent monitoring is essential, as soil pH changes rapidly during
fertilization, irrigation, and even the phases of the moon. Effective pH
monitoring of spray solutions will maximize nutrient uptake in foliar feeds.

Organic Gardening Resource Center - Your Source Since 1976!

Read our BlogCustomers and Peaceful Valley staff share their soil knowledge at

EC Electrical Conductivity testing of- soil gives a wealth of information:

particle size and texture, drainage, cation exchange capacity [CEC] to show
percentage of clay and organic matter, topsoil depth, porosity, salinity, and
ERGS- Energy Released per Gram of Soil, as defined by Carey Reams. ERGS
represents the amount of energy available to the growing crops and
microorganisms. For example; overall reading above 1,000 generally
indicates a salt problem, energy loss and waste, and increased potential for
root burn. Overall levels below 200 indicate little or no crop growth is
occurring. Late-season crop finishing is directly correlated to the ERGS level.

TDS Total dissolved solids. An- expression for the combined content of all
organic and non-organic substances contained in a liquid.

ORP- Oxygen Reduction Potential or available oxygen. Oxygen availability is

crucial to the plants uptake ability. Based on ORP reading, available oxygen
can be easily adjusted using hydrogen peroxide. This definitely enhances the
effectiveness of foliar feeds by increasing plant ability to absorb them. ORP
and pH readings together provide an rH value, which is used to diagnose
the biological condition of your soil.

rH- Redox Value A soil rH below 25 indicates low oxygen, limited biological
activity, and a consequent lack of humus-building. A soil rH over 29 indicates
too much oxygen, resulting in oxidation of organic material and loss of carbon
to the atmosphere, limiting nutrient availability to the crop. rH value is
derived from the ORP and pH readings.

Brix- High Brix is a plant, not a soil, reading. It indicates adequate nutrition
and is an excellent measurement of fertilization success. Plants with high Brix
(reading above 12) sugar content are generally healthy. Used to measure
sugar content (Brix) of fruits to determine maturity. Also used to monitor the
Brix in plant tissue (leaves and stems) throughout the season.

Reference solutions Are not included- with most meters, although they
are necessary to calibrate your meter. For pH, the 7.0 solution is the solution
to use for primary calibration. If accurate readings below pH 6.0 are
consistently needed, the 4.0 solution is also recommended. For best
calibration and accuracy, use both the 7.0 and 4.0 reference solutions.

Understanding Fertilizer Ingredients and N-P-K Numbers

Guaranteed analysis
The label on all fertilizer bags is required to show the percentage by weight of nitrogen, available
phosphate and soluble potash. This is called the guaranteed anaylsis of the fertilizer.

The first number is Nitrogen (N), which promotes overall grass shoot growth.
The second number is available Phosphate (PO), which promotes strong root

The third number is soluble Postash (KO), which helps grass withstand stress,
drought or disease.

For example, a 24-2-8 fertilizer has 24% nitrogen, 2% available phosphate and 8% soluble
potash. Nitrogen, phosphate and potash are also sometimes referred to as N-P-K.

To understand how much of each nutrient is being applied to your lawn, you must multiply the
weight of the fertilizer bag by the percentage of each nutrient. For example, a 30 lb. bag of
fertilizer rated 24-2-8 contains:
N: 24% x 30 lbs = 7.2 lbs. Nitrogen
P: 2% x 30 lbs = 0.6 lbs. Available Phosphate
K: 8% x 30 lbs = 2.4 lbs. Soluble Potash
Customers who read this article purchased:
Fairway Formula
Spring Fertilizer
with Weed & Feed
and Crabgrass

Fairway Formula
Fall Fertilizer

Fairway Formula
Lawn Fertilizer

Selecting a fertilizer for nitrogen content

When it comes to assessing the nitrogen content of a lawn fertilizer, what is more important than
the quantity of nitrogen is the quality of the nitrogen, or the form in which it is present. Most
important is the amount of slow release nitrogen contained in the fertilizer. There are a number of
articles and resources on our website about nitrogen and its importance in the overall fertilization
program. Learn more about slow release nitrogen and the slow release nitrogen technologies that
make up the Greenview Fairway Formula Fertilizers.

Choosing a fertilizer with phosphate

Some soils are high in phosphorus. Therefore, additional phosphate is not always needed. If you
believe your soil is high in phosphorus, you should have your soil analyzed by your local state
extension agency. Additionally, some counties mandate the use of products without phosphate.
Check your local regulations to make sure that phosphate in a fertilizer product is permitted.
To find your local state extension agency, look in the yellow pages, contact your local state
university. You may also refer to our list of state extension agencies.
If you live in a phosphate restricted area, for example near lakes or other waterfront areas,
Greenview Fairway Formula Fertilizers are also available with zero phosphate content, and the
same advanced slow release nitrogen technologies as our other fertilizers.

study of soil in lamesa eco park

The La Mesa Story

The La Mesa watershed is a government property titled under the MWSS and commissioned in
1929, as recurring water shortage had become a primary concern. It straddles the boundaries of
Quezon City, Caloocan City, and Municipality of Montalban and the provinces of Bulacan, and
Rizal. It is the transit point of water coming from three other watersheds: Umiray, Angat, and
Ipo. It houses the filtration plant that distributes water to 5 cities and 32 municipalities or about
12 million residents in Metro Manila. It is also the last forest of its size in the metropolis.
However, losses through leaks and improper use of facilities compounded the situation, and due
to inadequate watershed protection, the former natural forest cover dwindled resulting to the
invasion of grass plant community types in La Mesa. A significant number of planted forest trees
were illegally harvested and more areas were converted again into agricultural croplands. The
unmanaged human activities, especially squatting and croplands cultivation, caused severe
watershed degradation. By May 1999, La Mesa was in a devastated state. Illegal settlers were
occupying wide tracts of land within the watershed area. There were vast hillside clearings due to
human activities such as slash-and-burn (kaingin)farming methods, and timber poaching, among
others. The watershed area was gravely destroyed.
In response, Bantay Kalikasan started a reforestation program on June 21, 1999. AFI then
commissioned URBIS Phils, Inc. to prepare a La Mesa Resource Management Framework Plan,
which was presented to and approved by Administrator Jose F. Mabanta, the Metroplitan
Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Executive Committee and the MWSS Board of
Trustees. The first three years were filled with challenges as the illegal settlers proved to be
hostile. Lives were sacrificed, commitments tested, and technical competence was stretched to
the limit.
When Bantay Kalikasan first arrived in La Mesa, there were only about eight plant species in
existence: Acacia auriculiformis, Acacia mangium, Gmelina arorea, Mahogany (Sweitenia
macrophylla), African tulip (Spathodia campanulata), Eucalyptus, and Teak (Tictona grandis). To
date, there are a total of 82 endemic species that were planted in the La Mesa Forest Nature
Reserve as a result of the reforestation. The project has an over-all survival rate of 92.5%, the
highest rate among reforestation projects in Southeast Asia. As of November 2012, the forest
rehabilitation has reached its early completion. With this rehabilitation project, La Mesa is now
considered a "carbon sink" as it absorbs 3% of the total carbon emissions of Metro Manila. To
sustain the expenses involved in maintaining and protecting the watershed, the forest was zoned
for it to be open to mountain biking, hiking and educational tours.
The Project has led to the identification of the success factors for reforestation and watershed
management projects such as adequate inputs (planning, supervision, protection, project
monitoring, defined quality standards and specifications, communication, good access system,
trained workers), proper timing/phasing of various activities, and understanding the soil and
working environment. By rehabilitating and managing the La Mesa watershed as a nature park,
hopefully the learning will be shared and spread to other critical watersheds in the country.

The online news portal of TV5
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
projects the Philippines to have more green forest areas than deforested ones if the government
meets its 2016 National Greening Program (NGP) goal of planting some 1.5 billion tree
seedlings in about 1.5 million hectares of open, denuded and degraded forest land nationwide.
"Achieving such goal will reverse our forest situation," DENR Undersecretary Demetrio Ignacio
said in a speech at Sunday's main 2012 Earth Day (ED) celebration. The DENR and Earth Day
Network Philippines Inc. spearheaded the event at Makati City's Ayala Triangle.
The annual ED celebrations aim to help boost the global environmental protection campaign.
Philippine areas designated as forests account for about half of the country's estimated total land
area of some 30 million hectares.
Ignacio is urging all sectors to increasingly plant trees, saying latest available data show only
half of the country's total designated forest area is green.
Studies also show deforestation reduced the country's forest cover from over 50 percent of land
at the start of the 20th century to only about 24 percent at present.
The government aims to increase such forest cover to about 30 percent by 2016, Ignacio noted.
To help curb deforestation and environmental degradation, the government launched NGP in
May 2011.
NGP also seeks to help address food security and poverty by allowing agro-forestry activities in
the uplands.
The program likewise aims to address climate change, which experts attribute to the rise in
global temperature.
Experts have said trees are able to absorb carbon dioxide---among the greenhouse gases that are
concentrated in the atmosphere and trap heat there, raising the global temperature.
DENR is pleased about the public response to NGP so far.
"Last year, about 700,000 people planted 93 million trees in over 128,000 hectares of land
nationwide," Ignacio reported.
He said DENR expects the total number of trees planted since last year to hit 100 million this
The 2011 NGP target was greening 100,000 hectares of land nationwide.

"For 2012, NGP aims greening twice such target last year," Ignacio said.
NGP's annual greening target for the 2013-2016 period is 300,000 hectares of land, he added.
To help increase forest cover, the government began imposing last year a total log ban in natural
forests nationwide.
"Such ban is the first of its kind in the country," Ignacio noted.
He said DENR confiscated last year some 12 million board feet (BF) of illegally harvested forest
products and secured court convictions for several perpetrators of illegal logging.
"We donated six million BF to schools -- the materials were used to build 41,000 arm chairs and
4,600 tables," he said.
Part of the donated materials was also used to repair over 300 school buildings, he added.

ropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forest Ecoregions

WWF-Canon / Mauri RAUTKARI

Generally found in large, discontinuous patches centered on the equatorial belt and
between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, Tropical and Subtropical Moist Forests
(TSMF) are characterized by low variability in annual temperature and high levels of
rainfall (>200 centimeter annually). Forest composition is dominated by semievergreen and evergreen deciduous tree species.
These trees number in the thousands and contribute to the highest levels of species
diversity in any terrestrial major habitat type. In general, biodiversity is highest in
the forest canopy which can be divided into five layers: overstory canopy with
emergent crowns, a medium layer of canopy, lower canopy, shrub level, and finally

These forests are home to more species than any other terrestrial ecosystem: Half of the world's
species may live in these forests, where a square kilometer may be home to more than 1,000 tree
species. These forests are found around the world, particularly in the Indo-Malayan
Archipelagos, the Amazon Basin, and the African Congo. A perpetually warm, wet climate
promotes more explosive plant growth than in any other environment on Earth.

A tree here may grow over 75 feet in height in just 5 years. From above, the forest appears as an
unending sea of green, broken only by occassional, taller "emergent" trees. These towering
emergents are the realm of hornbills, toucans, and the harpy eagle.
The canopy is home to many of the forest's animals, including apes and monkeys. Below the
canopy, a lower understory hosts to snakes and big cats. The forest floor, relatively clear of
undergrowth due to the thick canopy above, is prowled by other animals such as gorillas and
All levels of these forests contain an unparalleled diversity of invertebrate species, including
New Guineas unique stick insects and bird wing butterflies that can grow over one foot in
length. These forests are under tremendous threat from man. Many forests are being cleared for
farmland, while others are subject to large-scale commercial logging.
An area the size of Ireland is destroyed every few years, largely due to commercial logging and
secondary impacts. Such activities threaten the future of these forests are the primary contributor
to the extinction of 100-200 species a day on average over the next 40 years (exotics on islands
and loss of island habitats are other major factors)
At the current rate of deforestation, more than 17,000 species will go extinct every year, which is
more than 1,000 times the rate before man arrived on this planet.

WWF-Canon / Andre BARTSCHI

Among the 13 terrestrial major habitat types, the largest number of ecoregions by
far falls within the TSMF (50 ecoregions or 35% of all terrestrial ecoregions). The
high number of ecoregions within this major habitat type reflects the biological
richness and complexity of tropical moist forests.
Although there are more TSMF in the Indo-Malayan Biogeographic realm (17) than in
the Neotropics (12), this is partly due to the archipelagic distributions of Asian
tropical moist forests and their characteristic biotas 1). Four of the Asian TSMFs are
small island systems, and the original extent of all of the Asian ecoregions fit easily
within the area covered by western Amazonian moist forests.

The most diverse terrestrial ecoregions occur in the Western Arc forests of the Amazon Basin,
with close rivals in the Atlantic Forest ecoregion of Brazil, the Choc-Daren ecoregion of
northwestern South America, and Peninsular Malaysia and northern Borneo forest ecoregions.
The montane forest biotas of the Northern Andes are remarkable for their globally high rates of

beta-diversity and extraordinary local endemism2).

The forests of the Guayanan region and Cuba are remarkable for their endemism and unusual
biogeographic relationships3). The Congolian coastal forests are likely the most diverse in the
Afrotropics, although diversity information is scarce for several ecoregions in the central Congo
Basin4). The Guinean moist forests support many species not found in the Central African

WWF-Canon / Michel ROGGO

The Albertine Rift montane forests are extremely rich for some taxa, such as birds,
and have a high degree of endemism6). The distinctiveness of the Eastern Arc
Montane and East African Coastal Forests is attributable to their great age and
isolation7). Madagascar forests and shrublands are also highly distinctive at global
scales, even at higher taxonomic levels 8). Tropical moist forests of New Guinea and
New Caledonia are highly distinctive at global scales 9), although Australian moist
forests do share many affinities with New Guinea.
The forests of Sulawesi are noted for the regionally high degree of endemism in a
range of taxa, a phenomenon also seen in the Philippines moist forests 10) and in the
Lesser Sundas Semi-evergreen Forests 11). The Western Ghats and southwestern Sri
Lankan moist forests are distinctive due to their isolation and long history. Tropical
moist forests on oceanic islands are often highly distinctive due to high rates of
endemism, extraordinary radiations of taxa and adaptive radiation, and relictual or
unique higher taxa12).

Biodiversity Patterns
These habitats may display high beta diversity, particularly between isolated montane areas and
along altitudinal gradients; local and regional endemism can be pronounced in some regions.
Minimum Requirements
Large natural landscapes required in some regions because larger vertebrates track widely
distributed seasonal or patchy resources; water sources and riparian vegetation important for
wildlife in drier regions.

Sensitivity to Disturbance
These fragile habitats are highly sensitive to plowing, overgrazing, and excessive burning due to
their challenging climatic and soil conditions; larger vertebrates sensitive to even low levels of
In this habitat are the following ecoregions:

Journal links
Philippines http://www.fao.org/ag/AGP/AGPC/doc/counprof/Philippines/Philipp.htm
Factors http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/am255e/am255e00.pdf


study of soil in lamesa eco park

forest study in the Philippines
humidity of the forest
temperature of the forest
Factors affecting forest growth.