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Book Review:

Plant Nutrition and Soil Fertility Manual by J. Benton Jones, Jr., 2011; 2nd edition, CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group; Boca Raton, London & New York, Paperback & E-book (pdf) versions available, ISBN (Paperback): 9781439816097, ISBN (e-book): 9781439816103, Price: US $ 79.95

Reviewed by S. K Basu1*, X. Chen2 and M. Asif3

1University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada T1K 3M4; 2Yunan Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Kunming, Yunan, China 650205; 3University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2P5;
*corresponding author:

Guyana Journal, August 2012

The current volume Plant Nutrition and Soil Fertility Manual by J. Benton Jones, Jr., GroSystems, Inc., Anderson, South Carolina, USA is an excellent production from the CRC Press filling in a long time void for an outstanding manual in the area of plant nutrition and soil fertility. This is indeed a large, voluminous and comprehensive coverage of a wide diversity of topics related to the area. The author deserves great appreciation for his excellent written communication, simplified explanation of theories, attention to details and extensive coverage of all facets of this expanding field of agricultural research and agronomic production systems. One of the most significant aspects of the manual has been the simple style of representing significant technical information using a smooth-flowing but captivating language.

This big and comprehensive volume is divided into seven distinct sections including 27 separate chapters. A detailed outline of the volume content is presented below to provide the diversity of topics included:

Section I: Introduction and Basic Principles consisting of five chapters, namely, Chapter 1: Introduction, Chapter 2: Soil Fertility Principles, Chapter 3: Plant Nutrition Principles, Chapter 4: The Plant Root, and Chapter 5: How to Be a Diagnostician

Section II: Physical and Physiochemical Characteristics of Soil comprising of five distinct chapters, such as, Chapter 6: Soil Taxonomy, Horizontal Characteristics, and Clay Minerals, Chapter 7: Physical Properties of Soils, Chapter 8: Physiochemical Properties of Soil, Chapter 9: Soil pH: Its Determination and Interpretation, and Chapter 10: Soil Organic Matter

Section III Plant Elemental Requirements and Associated Elements comprising of five chapters, namely, Chapter 11: Major Essential Plant Elements, Chapter 12: Micronutrients Considered Essential to Plants, Chapter 13: Elements Considered Beneficial to Plants, Chapter 14: Elements Considered Toxic to Plants, and Chapter 15: Trace Elements Found in Plants

Section IV: Methods of Soil Fertility and Plant Nutrition Assessment comprising of two chapters, namely, Chapter 16: Soil Testing, and Chapter 17: Plant Analysis and Tissue Testing

Section V: Amendments for Soil Fertility Maintenance comprising of five separate chapters, namely, Chapter 18: Lime and Liming Materials, Chapter 19: Inorganic Chemical Fertilizers and Their Properties, Chapter 20: Organic Fertilizers and Their Properties, Chapter 21: Fertilizer Placement, and Chapter 22: Soil Water, Irrigation, and Water Quality

Section VI: Methods of Soilless Plant Production consists of two important chapters, namely, Chapter 23: Hydroponics, and Chapter 24: Soilless Rooting Growing Media

Section VII: Miscellaneous comprising of three chapters, namely, Chapter 25: Organic Farming/Gardening, Chapter 26: Weather and Climatic Conditions, and Chapter 27: Best Management Practices (BMPs)

The volume is characterized by the inclusion of extensive appendices aptly divided into four distinct sections, such as, A: Glossary, B: Formulation and Use of Soil Extraction Reagents, C: Preparation Procedures and Elemental Content, and D: Weights and Measures. The volume concludes with comprehensive list of additional references in the form of a section entitled Reference Books and Texts and lastly a detailed bibliography on which the entire text has been based as References.

Each chapter in the manual has been carefully divided into sections and sub-sections, thereby breaking complex ideas and concepts in the field into simpler, digestible, and manageable forms. Each chapter is further provided with several helpful summary tables and diagrams to establish key concepts in compact form. So each chapter has been a mix of text and presentation materials to help the readers to grasp the basics in a nutshell. The summary provided at the end of each chapter is also helpful in giving a nice overall coverage of the major concepts/themes/ideas/techniques/methods/protocols discussed in each chapter. If a reader will like to skip a chapter, a quick glance in the summary will provide a quick reference to the contents. It would have been nice to include some colored and/or black white plates relevant to different topics under different chapter to make this manual even more attractive and we sincerely believe that could be seriously considered in future volumes. The volume provides nutritional requirement of a wide range of crops covering food crops, fiber crops, forage crops, legumes, industrial and horticulturally important crops to several economically important plant species with a comprehensive global coverage. Overall the manual is a reader's delight with a wide coverage of all diverse topics under the realm of plant nutrition and soil fertility. What is most encouraging to note in this volume is the comprehensive coverage of both traditional and non-traditional research areas. It is not an easy task to capture both the areas under one volume, but the author with his great experience and expertise in the subject has very clearly demonstrated his ability to communicate both under one roof…that according to us has been one of the guiding cornerstone for the success of the manual.

The manual will serve as an excellent text for both under graduate as well as post graduate level courses in Soil Sciences, Agriculture, Economic Botany, Agronomy, Crop Production Systems, Plant Nutrition, Forestry and Agricultural Botany. In addition this will also serve as a quick and handy reference for crop advisors and consultants, fertilizer experts, producers, agronomists, farmers, plant physiologist and plant nutrition experts/ consultants, field biologists, agronomists, botanists and agriculturists. The current manual will also cater to those specializing in the fields of horticulture, olericulture, pomology, silviculture, plant physiology and metabolism, plant nutritional chemistry and plant soil interactions.