The impact of animal grazing on soil properries of Busitema Forest, Busia District
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The impact of animal grazing on the selected soil physical and chemical properties such as soil texture, Bulk density, soil organic matter, available phosphorus, Total nitrogen and soil pH were studied at Bustema forest in Busia district. The sampling areas were the community accessed where people are free to graze and carryout other activities, conserved area where there is controlled use by humans and the preserved area which are out of use by humans and animals. The top soil was sampled at the depth of 0-20cm. Soil bulk density was determined using the soil cores inserted at a depth of 5cm. soil samples were the taken to Makerere university soil laboratory for chemical and physical analysis. Statistical analysis was carried out using Gene stat 11th edition software. When compared to conserved and preserved areas, some soil properties were significantly affected grazing such as soil pH (<0.005), total nitrogen (<0.009), organic matter (<0.007), Available phosphorus (<0.001), potassium (<0.03), clay (<0.031) and silt (<0.011) contents. Soil bulk density and sand contents were not affected by animal grazing (p=0.078 and p=0.232) respectively, except for an increase in BD observed under community accessed area. Soil erosion as a result of over grazing may have contributed to changes in soil properties as it accelerates soil erosion and compaction. To combat the impact of animal grazing on the soil, there is need to sensitize the community around the forest on the benefits of controlled grazing; introduction of laws to govern the use and management of forest resources and distribution of water points around the grazing area to minimize trampling and over grazing around the watering points.