Most of the farms and pastoral lands in Ethiopia, where almost 90% of the country’s population lives, are affected by moderate to strong soil acidity. Soil infertility has been growing in scope and intensity and there is a need for an urgent solution to tackle the problem impacting food security and poverty eradication efforts. In recent years, Ethiopia has initiated important soil fertility management programs, one of which is ‘acid soil improvement through the application of natural rock resources, i.e. lime’.
Poor crop growth in acidic soils is mainly due to aluminum toxicity, which slows root growth and decreases the uptake of plant nutrients and micronutrients, like phosphorus, iron and zinc. If the soil is acidic (low pH), it is difficult to achieve the full benefit of fertilizers for better grain growth. Adequately applied lime produced from local natural rock resources increases the soil’s pH and enhances utilization of fertilizers and other nutrients. As a result, less fertilizers are required to obtain the maximum crop yield. In addition, lime provides plants with calcium and magnesium. Ensuring good nutrient status in the soil forms the basis for food security – and for decreasing the environmental burden through the use of less fertilizers.