Soil and Land Resources of The Bahamas
Much of this is based on the much quoted Land Resource Study by Little et al, 1977, Volume 27 Summary. Unfortunately a lot of this is misunderstood and misquoted, particularly the chapter on Land Capability which classifies the land into three categories suitable for modern mechanized agriculture in decreasing quality.In general terms the natural resources available for raising crops and livestock can be considered as the ground and the climate. This discussion only deals with the land and not the atmosphere.Bahamian Land.All Bahamian land is limestone, CaCO3. This is a very common rock worldwide, and not noted for agriculture where it occurs. In mountainous and dry areas it is virtually unusable, and has been made worst by centuries of goat rearing in many areas, goats being the only animals capable of sustaining themselves in such a hostile environment.. In the case of The Bahamas the limestone is young and very pure, both characteristics of considerable significance to agriculture. The purity means that only calcium carbonate is available to plants from the geology (much in the way of nutrients comes from the air, and via decaying vegetation as humus). Most other rocks are complex sets of minerals which break down to later form soils rich in nutrients, a process known as weathering. Limestone does not do this as its mineral content dissolves to leave nothing behind. One aspect of limestone that is significant is the relative acidity/alkalinity of the weathered surface it develops. As acid conditions are generally bad for crops Bahamian land avoids this development, but high alkalinity also has its problems. Anything over Ph 7 is alkaline, and over about 8.3 is a disadvantage as it generally limits the ability of a plant to absorb water. All Bahamian protosols are alkaline, usually in the range 7.5 t0 8.5, but the red soils are less so, or neutral depending on the amount of limestone they include. Red soils are an...
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