6: Soil health and plant nutrition
Productive, resistant plants start with healthy soil. Crops need not only adequate nutrients, but a favorable soil structure and environment for optimal growth. In the tropics, soil conditions vary widely, and many small farmers are forced to grow their crops in very poor soils which require special methods for food production. Green manures and cover crops, which afford some protection from weathering elements and may improve the soil, have proven themselves in the field for their contribution to soil health and conservation. This chapter also offers some ideas on planting materials and fertilizers for improved plant nutrition.
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