Environmental Management

, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 753–763 | Cite as

Soil Fertility in Relation to Slope Position and Agricultural Land Use: A Case Study of Umbulo Catchment in Southern Ethiopia

Article

Abstract

A study was conducted in southern Ethiopia to evaluate the nutrient status on smallholder farms with respect to land use class (garden, grassland, and outfield) and slope position (upper, middle, and lower). Soil physical and chemical properties were quantified using soil samples collected at two depths (0–15 and 15–30 cm). Available phosphorous was significantly different among the three land use classes. However, organic carbon and total nitrogen were lower in the outfield compared to the garden and grass land but not significantly different. The lower than expected nutrient status of the garden and grassland, which receive almost all available organic supplements, was attributed to the overall low availability of these inputs. Similarly, pH and cation exchange capacity were not significantly different among the different land use classes. However, the sum of the exchangeable cations was significantly higher in the garden compared to the outfields. Comparison at landscape level revealed that the sand fraction was significantly greater, whereas the silt fractions were significantly smaller, on the lower slopes relative to the middle slopes. Moreover, the organic carbon, total nitrogen, cation exchange capacity, Ca, and Mg values were significantly less on lower slopes than upper and middle slopes. Perhaps this is because of leaching and the effect of deposition of coarser sediments from the prevailing gully system. Overall, the fertility of the soil was adequate for supporting smallholder farming, but consideration must be given to reducing pressure on the land resources, addressing erosion problems, and providing a line of credit for purchasing inputs.

Keywords

Land use class Food insecurity Slope position Soil fertility Sustainability Ethiopia 

References

  1. Alemayehu K (2007) Effects of different land use systems and topography on selected soil properties at Delbo Watershed, Wolayita Zone, southern Ethiopia. Msc thesis. Hawassa University, Hawssa, EthiopiaGoogle Scholar
  2. Allison LE (1965) Organic carbon. In: Black CA (ed) Methods of soil analysis. Part 2: Chemical and microbiological properties, vol. 9. Am. Soc. Agro. Inc., Madison, WIGoogle Scholar
  3. Bewket W, Stroosnijder L (2003) Effects of agroecological land use succession on soil properties in Chemoga watershed, Blue Nile basin, Ethiopia. Geoderma 111:85–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blake GR, Hartge KH (1965) Bulk density. In: Black CA (ed) Methods of soil analysis. Part 1: Physical and mineralogical methods, vol. 9. Am. Soc. Agro. Inc., Madison, WI, pp 374–390Google Scholar
  5. Brady N, Weil R (1996) The nature and properties of soils, 11th edn. Prentice-Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJGoogle Scholar
  6. Bremmer JM (1965) Total nitrogen. In: Black CA (ed) Methods of soil analysis. Part 2: Chemical and microbiological properties, vol. 9. Am. Soc. Agro. Inc., Madison, WI, pp 1149–1178Google Scholar
  7. Chapman HD (1965) Cation exchange capacity. In: Black CA (ed) Methods of soil analysis. Part 2: Chemical and microbiological properties, vol. 9. Am. Soc. Agro. Inc., Madison, WI, pp 891–901Google Scholar
  8. Day PR (1965) Particle size analysis. In: Black CA (ed) Methods of soil analysis. Part 1: Physical and mineralogical methods, vol. 9. Am. Soc. Agro. Inc., Madison, WI, pp 545–566Google Scholar
  9. Debub University (2003) A report on PRA of Umbulo-Wacho Peasant Association. Operational research and capacity building for food security and sustainable livelihoods. Draft documentGoogle Scholar
  10. Elias E, Scoones I (1999) Perspectives on soil fertility change: a case study from southern Ethiopia. Land Degradation & Development 10:195–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Elias E, Morse S, Belshaw DGR (1998) Nitrogen and phosphorus balances of Kindo Koisha farms in southern Ethiopia. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 71:93–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. FAO (1998) World reference base for soil resources. FAO, ISRIC, and ISSS, RomeGoogle Scholar
  13. FDRE (2002) Sustainable development and poverty reduction program. MoFED, Addis Abeba, EthiopiaGoogle Scholar
  14. Fu B, Liu S, Chen L, Lü Y, Qiu J (2004) Soil quality regime in relation to land cover and slope position across a highly modified slope landscape. Ecological Research 19:111–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gregorich EG, Greer KJ, Anderson DW, Liang BC (1998) Carbon distribution and losses: erosion and deposition effects. Soil and Tillage Research 47:291–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Haileselassie A, Priess J, Veldkamp E, Teketay D, Lesschen P (2005) Assessment of soil nutrient depletion and its spatial variability on smallholders’ mixed farming systems in Ethiopia using partial versus full nutrient balances. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 108:1–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Haileselassie A, Priess J, Veldkamp E, Lesschen J (2006) Smallholders’ soil fertility management in the Central Highlands of Ethiopia: implications for nutrient stocks, balances and sustainability of agroecosystems. Nutrient Cycling and Agroecosystem 75:135–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hao Y, Lal R, Owens LB, Izaurralde RC, Post WM, Hothem DL (2002) Effect of cropland management and slope position on soil organic carbon pool at the North Appalachian experimental watersheds. Soil & Tillage Research 68:133–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kippie T (2002) 5000 years of sustainability? A case study on Gedeo landuse (southern Ethiopia). Treebook 5. Treemail, Heelsum, the NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  20. Landon JR (ed) (1984) Booker tropical soil manual. A handbook for soil survey and agricultural land evaluation in the tropics and subtropics. Booker Agricultural International, LondonGoogle Scholar
  21. Lemenih M, Olsson M, Karltun E (2004) Comparison of soil attributes under Cupressus lusitanica and Eucalyptus saligna established on abandoned farmlands with continuously cropped farmlands and natural forest in Ethiopia. Forest Ecology and Management 195:57–67Google Scholar
  22. Li Y, Lindstrom MJ (2001) Evaluating soil quality-soil redistribution relationship on terraces and steep hillslope. Soil Science Society of America Journal 65:1500–1508Google Scholar
  23. Mesfin A (1998) Nature and management of Ethiopian soils. Alemaya University of Agriculture, Alemaya, EthiopiaGoogle Scholar
  24. Moges A, Holden NM (2006) Land cover change and gully development in the Umbulo watershed, southern Ethiopia. In: McNulty P and Holden NM (eds) Biosystems Engineering Research Reviews 11:44–47Google Scholar
  25. Moges A, Holden NM (2007) Farmers’ perception of soil erosion and fertility loss in southern Ethiopia. Land Degradation & Development 18:543–554CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Moges A, Holden NM (2008) Estimating the rate and consequences of gully development, a case study of Umbulo catchment in southern Ethiopia. Land Degradation & Development (in press)Google Scholar
  27. Morgan RPC (1996) Soil erosion and conservation, 2nd edn. Longman, LondonGoogle Scholar
  28. Murage EW, Karanja NK, Smithson PC, Woomer PL (2000) Diagnostic indicators of soil quality in productive and non-productive small holders’ fields of Kenya’s central highlands. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 79:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Negassa W, Gebrekidan H (2004) The impact of different land use systems on soil quality of Alfisols of western Ethiopia. Rural poverty reduction through research for development and transformation. Deutscher Tropentag, Berlin. Available at: www.tropentag.de/2004/abstracts/full/265.pdf. Accessed January 5, 2007
  30. NRC (National Soil Research Centre) (2000) Procedures for soil and plant analysis. Ethiopian Agricultural Research Organization, Addis AbebaGoogle Scholar
  31. Olsen SR, Dean LA (1965) Phosphorous. In: Black CA (ed) Methods of soil analysis. Part 2: Chemical and microbiological properties, vol. 9. Am. Soc. Agro. Inc., Madison, WI, pp 1035–1049Google Scholar
  32. Rich CI (1965) Elemental analysis by flame photometery. In: Black CA (ed) Methods of soil analysis. Part 2: Chemical and microbiological properties, vol. 9. Am. Soc. Agro. Inc., Madison, WI, pp 849–864Google Scholar
  33. Rowel DL (1994) Soil science methods and applications. Longman, LondonGoogle Scholar
  34. Sanchez PA (1976) Properties and management of soils in the tropics. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  35. SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Sciences) (2001) SPSS for Windows. Release 11.0.1. Standard version. SPSS Inc., Chicago, ILGoogle Scholar
  36. Tesfaye A (2005) Diversity in homegarden agroforestry systems of southern Ethiopia. Tropical Resource Management Papers, no. 59. Waginengen, the NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  37. Tilahun A, Mulugeta D (2005) Optimizing soil fertility gradients in the Enset systems of the Ethiopian highlands; trade-offs and local innovations. African Highland Initiatives. Working paper 15Google Scholar
  38. Tsegaye A (2002) On indgeneous production, genetic diversity and crop ecology of Enset (Enset ventricosum). Ph.D. thesis. Wageningen University, Wageningen, the NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  39. Walle RJ, Sims BG (1999) Fertility gradient in naturally formed terraces on honduran hillside farms. Agronomy Journal 91:350–353Google Scholar
  40. Wang J, Fu B, Qiu Y, Chen L (2001) Soil nutrients in relation to land use and landscape position in the semi-arid small catchment on the loess plateau in China. Journal of Arid Environments 48:537–550CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Weizzel A, Steinmuller N, Friederichsen JR (2002) Slope position effects on soil fertility and crop productivity and implications for soil conservation in upland northwest Vietnam. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 91:113–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wild A (1993) Soils and the environment: an introduction. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  43. Wolde M, Veldkamp E, Haile M, Nyssen J, Muys B, Gebrehiwot K (2007) Effectiveness of exclosures to restore degraded soils as a result of overgrazing in Tigray, Ethiopia. Journal of Arid Environments 69:270–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hawassa UniversityAwassaEthiopia
  2. 2.UCD School of AgricultureFood Science and Veterinary Medicine, University College DublinBelfieldIreland

Personalised recommendations