Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Nature and Properties of Red Soils of the World

Authors
item Baligar, Virupax
item Faberia, N - EMBRAPA, BRAZIL
item Eswaran, H - USDA-NRCS
item Wilson, M - MACAULAY LAND USE UK
item He, Z - UNIV OF FL, FT PIERCE,FL

Submitted to: The Red Soils of China: Their Nature, Management and Utilization
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: December 9, 2003
Publication Date: May 1, 2004
Citation: Baligar, V.C., Faberia, N.K., Eswaran, H., Wilson, M.J., He, Z.L. 2004. Nature and properties of red soils of the world. The Red Soils of China: Their Nature, Management and Utilization. The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publications. p. 5-30.

Interpretive Summary: Red soils are known to occupy over three billion ha of land area in the world. Red soils are highly leached soils of the humid tropics and are predominantly found in South and Central America, South and Southeast Asia, China, India, Japan and Australia. In general, these soils have good physical conditions for plant growth, although they often have very low water-holding capacity. Low natural fertility is the main limiting factor for good crop production on these soils. They are frequently acidic and deficient in all essential nutrients, especially N, P, K, Ca, Mg, S, Zn, B, and Cu. Adequate applications of lime and fertilizers are important strategies for replenishing soil fertility and improving crop yields on these soils. In addition, cultural practices such as appropriate crop rotation, improvement of organic matter content, use of nutrient efficient or acid tolerant plant species or cultivars, and control of soil erosion can optimize nutrient use efficiency and improve crop yields on these soils. In China, utilization of red soils for crop production by farmers depends not only upon the employment of such practices, but also upon socio-economic factors and the availability of adequate incentives. In this review paper, an attempt is being made to provide a global overview of the nature and properties of red soils of the World. Further, we have suggested management strategies that will restore the fertility and productivity of these infertile soils and thereby, improve the crop yield potentials of the region.

Technical Abstract: Red soils are highly leached soils of the humid tropics having a high content of sesquioxides. In the current system of U.S. Soil Taxonomy, red soils are usually designated under the orders of Oxisols, Ultisols, and occasionally, Alfisols, Mollisols, and even Inceptisols. Red soils are predominantly found in South America, Central Africa, South and Southeast Asia, China, India, Japan, and Australia. In general, these soils have good physical conditions for plant growth, although they often have very low water-holding capacity. Low natural fertility is the main limiting factor for good crop production on these soils and they are frequently acidic and deficient in all essential nutrients, especially N, P, K, Ca, Mg, S, Zn, B, and Cu. Adequate applications of lime and fertilizers are important strategies for replenishing soil fertility and improving crop yields on these soils. In addition, cultural practices such as appropriate crop rotation, improvement of organic matter content, use of nutrient efficient or acid tolerant plant species or cultivars, and control of soil erosion can optimize nutrient use efficiency and improve crop yields on these soils. In China, utilization of red soils for crop production by farmers depends not only upon the employment of such practices, but also upon socio-economic factors and the availability of adequate incentives.

Last Modified: 4/16/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page