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Managing sands of the lower Mekong Basin to limit land degradation: A review of properties and limitations for crop and forage production

Bell, R.W.ORCID: 0000-0002-7756-3755, Seng, V., Vance, W.H., Philp, J.N.M., Hin, S.ORCID: 0000-0003-0671-623X, Touch, V. and Denton, M.D. (2022) Managing sands of the lower Mekong Basin to limit land degradation: A review of properties and limitations for crop and forage production. Soil Systems, 6 (3). Article 58.

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Land development is rapidly occurring on sand-dominant soils that cover substantial areas of the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB). Sands are at risk of degradation on sloping uplands where agriculture is expanding and on lowland landscapes where intensification of cropping is occurring. Sandstone and granitic geology explain the prevalence of sand-dominant textures of profiles in the LMB. However, the sand terrains in uplands of Cambodia and Southern Laos mostly have not been mapped in detail and the diversity of their edaphic properties is poorly understood. On high-permeability sands, lowland rainfed rice crops are drought-prone, while nutrient losses from leaching are also a risk. Furthermore, waterlogging, inundation and subsoil hardpans are significant hazards that influence the choice of crops and forages for lowland soils. Soil acidity, low nutrient status, hard-setting and shallow rooting depth are significant constraints for crops and forages on sands in the lowlands. Land use change in the lowlands to alternative field crops and forages on sands is contingent on their profitability relative to rice, the amounts and reliability of early wet season rainfall, and the amounts of stored water available after harvesting rice. Low soil fertility and soil acidity are limitations to the productivity of farming systems on the sand profiles in uplands, while erosion, low soil organic matter levels and water balance are concerns for their sustainable use. Site-/soil-specific fertilizer and lime management, land suitability assessment and the use of conservation agriculture principles (minimum tillage and crop residue retention) can overcome some of these constraints.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Sustainable Farming Systems
Publisher: MDPI
Copyright: © 2022 by the authors
United Nations SDGs: Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
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