Soil quality indexes in areas cultivated with banana in Panamá.
The objective of this research was to obtain an
index that could serve as a useful tool for environmental
assessment and managing agricultural banana soils in
Panama. The work was performed in five independent farms
from Alanje District and six properties belonging to the
Cooperative COOSEMUPAR in Baru (2005-2006). The soils
belong to the orders Inceptisols (Andic Dystrudepts, Udic
haplustepts and Dystric haplustepts) and Entisols (Andic
Udifluvents). For the description of the indicators, four pits
were opened for each area of high and low productivity in
the band of fertilization of recently flowered banana plants.
Biometric data were recorded of twenty banana plants
near harvest. In addition, each site was measured for basic
infiltration, total weight of roots and sampled to determine
the physico-chemical and biological properties of the soil.
In all farms high levels of Ca, Mg and K were detected,
low concentrations of organic matter associated with low
biological activity and low microbial biomass. In most farms
infiltration was slow and degraded structures were present in
the lower horizons. The Minimum Data Set (MDS) that best
predicted areas of high and low productivity was composed
of the following indicators: percentage of sand, pH, Ca, K,
organic matter, microbial respiration, mineralization rate and
total weight of roots.