Variation of soil physicochemical properties in two contrasting landscapes with soil and water conservation practices in Buwagogo sub-county, Manafwa cathcment
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Soil and water conservation (SWC) practices have been widely advocated for and adopted on the slopes of Mt. Elgon and other highland areas in Uganda to curb land degradation. However, the contribution of these SWC practices to soil fertility improvement on these landscapes still remains under studied, thus need to be evaluated periodically. This research assesses the variation of soil properties in two contrasting landscapes as influenced by SWC practices in Buwagogo sub county, Manafwa district. Two contrasting slopes were categorized as well-managed and poorly managed in this study area. The poorly managed landscape in this case is one where only biological and agronomic SWC practices were applied including; agroforestry, elephant grass bunds, mixed cropping. The well managed landscape was one that in addition to biological and agronomic practices, further adopted use of contour trenches throughout the landscape slope positions. Each landscape was divided into 3 positions (upper, middle and bottom). At each position disturbed soil samples were picked in triplicate from a depth of 0-20cm and 20-40cm, a total of 53 disturb soil samples were picked and transported to the Soil science laboratory in Makerere and analyzed for soil pH, Electrical conductivity (EC), Organic carbon (OC), total Nitrogen (TN), available Phosphorus (Av.P), Potassium (K), and Sodium (Na). Statistical analysis was done using SPSS (version 21), for descriptive statistics. The results revealed that there was no significant difference (p > 0.05) in, soil pH, EC, soil OC, TN, whereas Av. P and proportion of clay and sand had significant differences between the two landscapes. Over all, the soil nutrient indices (N.I) for TN and Av. P for the well-managed landscape were higher than those of the poorly managed; however, the K was in the low category in both landscapes and all slope positions. This study concludes that management of landscape with both structural and biological SWC practices enhances improvement of soil properties as depicted by the upper and mid-slope of well managed landscape compared to the poorly managed landscape. Therefore, the stakeholders should ensure proper management of already established SWC practices to enhance their functionality in curbing land degradation and also focus on non-agricultural economic activities that leverage population pressure exerted on arable land in Buwagogo among the resource poor communities.