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Amazon Forest and Savanna Lands. -A guide to the climates, vegetation, landscapes and soils of central tropical South America.

Author(s): Thomas T. Cochrane and Thomas A. Cochrane
Editor(s): University of Canterbury, UC Design
ISBN 10: 1452866376
ISBN 13: 9781452866376
Published: 2011
Pages: 190
Cost: $49
Rating (1-5): 5
Reviewed By: Cochrane, Thomas T.

A unique overview of the land resources of Amazonia supported by an appendix of novel technologies of interest to many agronomic scientists.

"Amazon Forest and Savanna Lands" provides an overview of the land resources of Amazonia in terms of the complex of climates, landscapes, vegetation and soils found throughout this vast, often misunderstood region. The authors have written the book for a broad spectrum of agronomic scientists, foresters and ecologists. The senior author has had over 50 years of experience in the evaluation of  Amazonian lands working with international organizations. Furthermore, he has developed technologies applicable to agriculture generally, some with the help of his co-author and son, who is a senior lecturer in the Civil Engineering and Natural Resources Department of Canterbury University, New Zealand. The study is subdivided into 3 sections which are supported by a series of original studies available free from the authors' web site;

Section 1 "An Overview of the Amazon" is a sequel to the pioneering digital Land Systems study of the region by the senior author published by CIAT-EMBRAPA-CPAC in 1985 titled "Land in Tropical America" (ISBN 84-89206-39-2). The authors have re-digitized that study for personal computers, available from their web site. Aspects of the revised study are summarized in Chapters titled "Amazon Climates", "Amazon Landscapes", "Natural Vegetation Patterns of the Amazon", "Amazon Soils: Classification", "Amazon Soils: Physical and chemical Properties", and "Agro-ecological Zones of the Amazon". 

Section 2 "Larger Scale Land Resource Studies in Amazonia" summarizes 3 more recent studies of critical areas of Amazonia by the authors; "The Geo-economic Region of Brasilia", "The Northern Amazon Region of Bolivia", and "The Western Amazon State of Rondonia, Brazil". The section starts by detailing the digital Land Systems approach adopted for those studies, which was subsequently refined by the ISSS (now IUSS) in developing the "Worlds Soils and Terrain Digital Database SOTER" methodology. The original studies are available from the authors' web site.

Section 3 "Findings from the Land Resource Studies for the Use and Conservation of Amazon Soils" summarizes a series of findings from the study, including chapters titled; "Amazon Climate Parameters and Plant Growth", "Deforestation and its Effect on Amazon soils", "The Paradox of Savannas in Amazonia", "Leaching Losses and the Improvement of Amazon Forest and Savanna Soils" and "Selecting Crops and enhancing Soil Fertility for Local Conditions".

 An Epilogue concludes the main text which is supported by extensive references and 44 pages of appendices, the latter based on the authors' many peer-reviewed publications, including: 1) "Enhancing Soil Surveys to Help Predict Fertilizer Needs; a statistical procedure to facilitate soil fertilizer investigations". 2) "Tissue Analysis for Enhancing Field Fertilizer Trials". 3) "Estimating Fertilizer Needs in Lesser Developed Tropical Regions" (a differential equation for use anywhere when new crop cultivars are introduced). 4) "Measuring the Surface Charge Characteristics of Oxisols and Ultisols". 5) "A Field Test for Iron Toxicity Conditions in Tropical Soils". 6) "Correcting Al Toxicity in Tropical Mineral Soils" (the senior author's equation for liming acid mineral soils). 7) "The Chemical Properties of Native Savanna and Forest Soils in Central Brazil". 8) "Estimating Reference Evapotranspiration". 9) "Solution Flow through the Soil-Plant Continuum"(based on the authors' new equation for calculating osmotic potential of interest to many scientists). 10) "Abstracts of papers applying the authors' new equation for calculating osmotic potential" (which elucidates the vital link between stomata aperture modulation and K deficiency).

In synthesis, this book apart from providing an unique insight into the soils and ecological complex of forest and savanna lands throughout Amazonia, summarizes a series of technologies for the study of tropical lands and agriculture generally. It would be a valuable reference source for many agronomic and ecological scientists. It is published (full color) by Web site: