The cardinal objective of agriculture is to produce enough food to feed the population of the world and enough raw materials to meet the demand of our industries and earn foreign exchange for the country through exports of agricultural produce. Beautiful as these objectives are, non of them can be achieved if the soil is not fertile enough to support the growth of plants. This is because only fertile soil can provide nutrients in sufficient amounts to support the optimum production of plants. The soil therefore holds the hope of all in terms of food production. According to Brady and Weil (1999), to the farmer, the soil is more than useful, it is indispensable. Conscious of these facts therefore it becomes necessary that the soil should be given a very close attention in terms of management in order to achieve the objectives of agriculture.
In modern agriculture, proper soil management remains one of the pivots upon which it revolves. This is because it ensures continuous fertility hence the continuous productivity of the soil. Proper soil management refers to using a piece of land in such a way that it can be expected to produce indefinitely at an optimum level at all times (Metalfe and Elkins, 1976).
Unless a fertile or potentially fertile soil is identified and distinguished from a poor non-productive soil, it may be ignorantly used for other purposes. To the farmer, this is a negative development as rich agricultural soils should be reserved for the cultivation of crops while poor agricultural soils should be used for building of structures.
To be able to identify a fertile soil and distinguish it from a non-fertile soil, the soil must be surveyed. It is in the process of surveying the soil that different soil types will be identified and possibly mapped out and its properties studied with a view to maintaining or sustaining the fertility of a fertile soil and improving the productive capacity of a less fertile soil. Also measures taken to improve or sustain fertility in soils with a given characteristic can also be used in solving the same problem at the different location where such soil types are found and where the same climate and the same geomorphic feature prevail
Hence according to Metcalfe and Elkins (1976) one of the functions of soil survey as a soil management tool is to relate conservation practices to the soil characteristics and climate conditions.
In the course of survey, attention is paid not only to the soils physical and chemical properties alone but also to other factors which brought about these properties. These factors climate, parent materials, organisms, topography and time-play key roles in determining the soils physical and chemical characteristics. These characteristics influences the soils rate of nutrients adsorption and loss and the soils rate of water retention and loss. These factors in turn determine the agriculture worth of the soil and the need to protect them from destruction or abusive uses or recommend them for other forms of land uses.
Among the soil forming factors, topography stands out as one of the most important not only in the soil forming process but also (the outline of the earth’s surface)is determining soil management practices that should be used to improve the fertility of a given soil to sustain its productive capability.
Topography determines the temperature and rainfall regimes of a given area. (The basic constituents of climate), which in turn influences the soil formation and characteristics. Topography influences the type of soil formed on hill tops, on slopes and on valleys. Its ability to influences these and more necessities its study, inorder to be able to design suitable management practices to suit different locations and increase food production.
In Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, with a relatively hilly topography information on soil-topography relationship and the general fertility states and the area is very scared.
This study was therefore carried out with the following objectives:
The importance of this study is that information obtained in the course of the study will enrich our understanding of the soil characteristics and types is relation to topographic or geomorphic features in Mbiakpan Atan in particular and Akwa Ibom at large. This will go a long way in encouraging the continuous use of the soil management practise which is currently in use or help us discover the best management alternative for each soil type with a view to increasing food production.