Assessing the performance of the Makerere University soil test kit in determining selected soil chemical properties in Mubuku Irrigation Scheme Kasese district
Natukunda, Amanda Ethol
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Increased pressure on land and its resources in Uganda due to the growing population has left no room for traditional practices of soil nutrient replenishment such as fallowing. Interventions such as use of synthetic fertilizers have been encouraged to replenish soils nutrient reserves. However knowledge on soil nutrient status is important before application of fertilizers which can be obtained through soil testing. Innovations such as the development of the Makerere University Soil Test Kit (MAK-STK) have been undertaken for cheaper, onsite, rapid and reliable assessment of soil. However, there are limited studies that evaluate the performance of the kit for its use as a diagnostic tool especially in furrow irrigated and fertilized fields. Soil samples were collected from Mubuku Irrigation scheme, Kasese district Western Uganda from locations that received urea fertilizer treatments at three different nitrogen levels 0kg, 50kg and 100kg of N per hectare each treatment replicated twice in a randomized complete block design. They were collected at different depths 0-15cm and 15-30cm from each location in the field in consideration of the shortest distance, mid distance and furthest distance from the main tertiary canal. These samples were then subjected to both laboratory and MAK-STK analysis and data obtained wassubjected to statistical analyses using Genstat statistical computer package (14thedition 2010). Results from the MAK-STK showed that there was no significant difference (p>0.05) of available nitrogen in the soil at different treatment levels though there was higher nitrogen in fields that received treatment of 50kg N ha⁻¹.At different soil depths, the study revealed that there were no significant differences (p>0.05) in soil properties. Soil pH was constant across soil depths in fields that received treatments at 50 and 100kg N ha⁻¹ and lower in soil depth 15-30 cm in unfertilized fields. Nitrogen was higher in depths 15-30 cm than 0-15cm in fields that received treatments at 50 and 100kg N ha⁻¹.Mean values revealed higher nitrogen levels, organic matter at the end of the field than at the start of the field while pH was lower at the end of the field than start.The MAK-STK showed that Phosphorus and potassium was constant at 16ppm and 0.21 cmol/kgrespectively across soil depths and with increase in distance from the main tertiary canal. A t-test carried out to compare performance of the MAK-STK with soil laboratory revealed significant difference between results (p<0.05) obtained with parameters organic matter, pH, phosphorus and potassium and no significant difference for parameters N. More studies and adjustments are needed on the MAK-STK ranges.