Extent and management of acid soils for sustainable crop production system in the tropical agroecosystems: a review

Increasing areas of agricultural land in high rainfall areas of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where crop production used to be reliable, are affected by soil acidity. This review focuses on the extent, causes and effect of soil acidity on soil properties and crop yield and its management from the context of SSA. Studies showed that the detrimental effects of soil acidity can be mitigated through liming, integrated acid soil management and the use of acid-tolerant germplasms. Application of lime resulted in yield increments of 34–252% in wheat, barley and tef, 29–53% in faba bean and soybean, and 42–332% in potato in Ethiopia, 111–182% in maize in Kenya, and 45–103% in Mucuna in Nigeria under moderate to severe acid soil conditions. This was accompanied by a corresponding increase in soil pH up to 1.9 units and a decrease in exchangeable acidity and aluminum up to 2.1 cmol kg−1. Use of acid-tolerant crop varieties such as maize expressing superior tolerance to Al toxicity resulted in a yield increase of 51% under low soil pH in Cameroon and Kenya. Overall, soil acidity covering ∼35% of SSA should be reclaimed with lime and integrated acid soil management interventions, which could significantly increase crop yield and enhance the resilience of the tropical agroecosystems.