MadSci Network: Agricultural Sciences

Re: What is it about volcanic soils that makes them so fertile?

Date: Sun Mar 5 15:31:36 2000
Posted By: Charles McClaugherty, Faculty, Environmental Science (Ecology), Mount Union College
Area of science: Agricultural Sciences
ID: 951858398.Ag

Not all volcaanicn soils are more fertile because the ash that comes from 
volcanoes differs in its mineral content and in its physical properties.  
However volcaninc soils are often more fertile because they are relatively 
unweatherd.  They have not undergone extensive leaching and they tend to 
contain more of the basic cations that plants require.  These include Mg 
Ca K Older soils have less of these because they are leached out by water 
percolation As this leaching ocurs, soils often get more acidic.  An 
increase in acidity often results in a decrease of availability for many 
essential nutrients and a corresponding increase in the concentration of 
nutrients that may be dangerous or toxic to plant, such as alumunium.  So 
the answer to your question is that many volcanic soils are relatively 
younger thatn other soils and have greater amounts of essential nutrients 
that make them fertile.

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