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Natural Sciences Education Abstract - Student Essay

Termites Increase Soil Productivity in Semi-Arid and Arid Tropics


This article in NSE

  1. Vol. 43 No. 1, p. 8-10
    Received: Jan 20, 2014
    Published: February 28, 2014

    * Corresponding author(s): awelch_21@yahoo.com
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  1. Alexandra Welch *ab
  1. a c/o Ray Weil, Dep. of Environmental Science and Technology, J.J. Patterson Hall, Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742
    b University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742


Decreased fertility of sub-Saharan African cropland is of major concern to farmers and malnourished populations in this region. Lack of nutrients in these soils has left land degraded and unable to produce substantial agricultural yield to feed the region’s people. Conservation of termite mounds native to arid and semi-arid locals in Africa improves soil fertility. Termites and the homes they build aid in improving soils’ physical structure, organic matter content, nutrient availability, and biological activity, amongst other properties, and can be used to ameliorate degraded cropland, as a soil amendment in place of traditional fertilizer. Utilization of this natural modifier could lead to increased arable land, heightened crop yields, and reduction in sub-Saharan African human malnutrition.

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Copyright © 2014. Copyright © 2014 by the American Society of Agronomy