Soil Fertility Decline: Why Does It Happen?

Soil fertility decline occurs when the amounts of nutrients extracts from the soil in harvesting products exceed the amounts of nutrients that apply. In this situation, the nutrient requirements of the crop retrieving from the soil reserves until these reserves cannot meet the demands of the crop. This is the basic soil fertility definition. The best solution of soil degradation is Tillage.

Therefore, the objective of this paper is to review loss of soil fertility and its management options under the prospects of crop production in Ethiopia. The main drivers of infertile soil are population pressure, land use patterns, free grazing of animals, lack of energy sources, land ownership, and poor government policy issues.

What Causes Soil Fertility Decline?

Factors such as deforestation, poor industrial waste management, over farming, overgrazing, soil degradation, and urban growth are also prominent contributors. Organic matter plays an important role in maintaining soil fertility by retaining nutrients.

Management Of Soil Fertility Decline

Soil Fertility Decline management aims to maintain soil organic matter, soil structure, soil nutrition, and satisfactory soil ph.

This can achieve in farming systems by:

  • With the stage of grass and legumes
  • Add soil conditioner or fertilizer
  • Use tillage system
  • Keep crop residues on site.

However, managing nutrient stratification in reduce tillage/stump residue systems may require strategic tillage to redistribute nutrients from the soil surface to the subsoil and apply deeper potash and phosphate fertilizers.

Best management practices such as fertilizer application rates are often adopt by growers, but due to a lack of supporting research, these practices are sometimes not well define.


The significance of organic matter in soil fertility could emphasizes. It contains nitrogen and sulfur in organic forms and other essential nutrients such as potassium and calcium. Organic matter loss occurs primarily through continuous cultivation with stubble removal or burning and is accelerates by frequent tillage.

In all agricultural systems, nutrients are lost over time in harvesting products, such as cereals. Off-site nutrient losses can also occur through soil erosion, runoff, leaching, and the burning of crop residues.

Most of all of the following points can occur in acidic soils:

  • Useful soil microorganisms can prevent recycling nutrients.
  • Phosphorus in the soil can become less available to plants
  • Calcium, magnesium, and molybdenum deficiencies may occur
  • The ability of plants to use subsoil moisture may limit.
  • Aluminum, which is toxic to plants and microorganisms, can be released from the soil
  • Manganese levels can reach toxic levels
  • May increase uptake by crops and grasses of the heavy metal contaminant, cadmium.

Contributing factors

Some factors that contribute to Soil Fertility Decline include:

  • Application of high levels of ammonium-based nitrogen fertilizers to naturally acidic soils
  • Nitric nitrogen leaching, originally applied as ammonium-based fertilizers
  • Harvesting of plant materials (plant material is alkaline, so when it removes, the soil is more acidic than if the plant material is returning to the soil).

Control measures

Here we have some soil degradation solutions for you. Soil acidity must treating at an early stage. If acidity spreads into the subsoil, serious yield reduction can occur. Moreover, subsurface acidity is difficult and expensive to control. There are several ways to minimize the soil acidification process, including:

  • Use of less acidifying agricultural practices considered when soils show signs of acidification.
  • Agricultural lime applications applied to counteract acidification caused by growing systems.

Soil Fertility Decline: Why Does It Happen?

Biological Soil Amendments

Soil conditioners are used especially in agriculture to support the growth and development of plants by adding organic and inorganic nutrients to the soil and improving the water, organic matter, and soil holding capacity. Furthermore, organic growers may face on-farm food safety issues related to the use of soil additives. 

This may be due to NOP restrictions on inputs and practices, or for personal or cultural reasons that conflict with standard food safety practices. One of the main restrictions that organic producers comply with is the limited use of synthetic substances for food production.

Salt Content and pH of the Amendment

Soil additive High salt content and high ph. levels are common problems in Colorado soils. Therefore, avoid calibration with high salinity or high ph. High salinity and/or ph. amendments often include manure-based compost, biosolids, and bio solids-based compost, as well as wood ash, sour peat, and Colorado manure.

Compensation for total salinity up to 10 mm ac. St. /cm is acceptable if well mixed with low salinity soil (less than 1 mm wick/cm) Toilet. The Art /cm modification is questionable with a salt content greater than 10 mm. 

Choose a low-salt amendment for soils that are high in salts. Request an analysis of the organic amendments you are considering and choose your amendments wisely. If no test is available, try a small amount of the amendment before buying a large amount.

Tips Decreased Soil Infertility

  • Stage of grasses and legumes.
  • Reduced tillage system.
  • Crop residues.

Stage Of Grasses And Legumes

Pasture tillage is an agricultural method in which annual crops are planted on permanent pastures that are dormant or prepared for grazing to deprive perennials of their competitive pasture advantage. They wanted to have pasture and farmland in the same space.

Reduced Tillage System

This type of tillage reduces reliance on adverse tillage. This means an area of ​​lower intensity, less depth, and fewer disturbances in your garden, field, or farm. However, it can be applied to the entire system, to the entire farm, or just as part of a cycle for a specific crop.

Crop Residues

Plant residues improve the biological, physical, and chemical properties of the soil. Nutrient reuse is also a reason to conserve plant residues by avoiding or minimizing tillage. Crop residue has long been known as an inoculum for the spread of disease.

What factors contribute to loss of soil fertility?

Crops, through agricultural products and agricultural residues, extract nutrients from the soil. If inorganic or organic nutrient inputs are insufficient, the nutrient loss can result in decreased fertility.


When the amount of nutrients extracted from the soil in harvested products exceeds the number of nutrients provided, soil fertility decreases. In this case, the nutritional needs of the crop are met from the soil reserves until these reserves can no longer meet the demands of the crop. Soil Fertility Decline is really harmful for your crops, so we should very careful and pay your proper attention to the land and its soil.