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Journal of Arid Land

, Volume 6, Issue 5, pp 561–570 | Cite as

Impact of enclosure management on soil properties and microbial biomass in a restored semi-arid rangeland, Kenya

  • Stephen M. MureithiEmail author
  • Ann Verdoodt
  • Charles K. K. Gachene
  • Jesse T. Njoka
  • Vivian O. Wasonga
  • Stefaan De Neve
  • Elizabeth Meyerhoff
  • Eric Van Ranst
Article

Abstract

Rangeland degradation is a serious problem throughout sub-Saharan Africa and its restoration is a challenge for the management of arid and semi-arid areas. In Lake Baringo Basin of Kenya, communities and individual farmers are restoring indigenous vegetation inside enclosures in an effort to combat severe land degradation and address their livelihood problems. This study evaluated the impact of enclosure management on soil properties and microbial biomass, being key indicators of soil ecosystem health. Six reseeded communal enclosures using soil embankments as water-harvesting structures and strictly regulated access were selected, varying in age from 13 to 23 years. In six private enclosures, ranging from 3 to 17 years in age, individual farmers emulated the communal enclosure strategy and restored areas for their exclusive use. Significant decreases in bulk density, and increases in the soil organic carbon, total nitrogen and microbial biomass contents and stocks were found in the enclosures as compared with the degraded open rangeland. In the private enclosures, the impact of rehabilitation on the soil quality was variable, and soil quality was in general lower than that obtained under communal management. The significant increase of absolute stocks of carbon, nitrogen and microbial biomass compared to the degraded open rangeland indicates the potential for the restoration of soil quality through range rehabilitation. Over-sowing with indigenous legume fodder species could improve total nitrogen content in the soil and nutritional value of the pastures as well.

Keywords

rangeland degradation enclosures microbial biomass rehabilitation reseeding soil quality Kenya 

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Copyright information

© Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Springer - Verlag GmbH 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen M. Mureithi
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Ann Verdoodt
    • 1
    • 3
  • Charles K. K. Gachene
    • 2
  • Jesse T. Njoka
    • 2
  • Vivian O. Wasonga
    • 2
  • Stefaan De Neve
    • 3
  • Elizabeth Meyerhoff
    • 4
  • Eric Van Ranst
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Soil Science, Department of Geology and Soil ScienceGhent UniversityGentBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Land Resources Management and Agricultural TechnologyUniversity of NairobiNairobiKenya
  3. 3.Research Unit of Soil Degradation and Conservation, Department of Soil ManagementGhent UniversityGentBelgium
  4. 4.Rehabilitation of Arid Environments TrustNakuruKenya

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