Suitability of arable soils for maize (Zea mays l) and cassava (Manihot esculenta) production
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Soils of Uganda were initially considered fertile and little was done to improve soil fertility. However, it was realised that crop yields declined in Uganda under continuous cultivation due to soil degradation. This has led to large scale and continuous conversions of natural habitats to open up land for crop growing to feed the increasing population. It is therefore important to determine suitability of the available arable soils for growth of important common crops in order to improve their growth and development on these soils and hence conserve natural habitats. This study presents results of soil analysis for samples collected from Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo (MUARIK). The study was aimed at ascertaining the suitability of MUARIK arable soils for Maize (Zea mays L) and cassava (Manihot esculenta) production. A total of 30 composite samples were collected from 6 blocks and taken to Makerere University School of Agricultural Sciences (soil, water and plant analysis laboratory) where the soil physical and chemical properties were determined. The results show that the soils were generally acidic with pH of 5.14 to 5.83. Soil OC and N were moderate or medium while available P and Ca were generally deficient in the soil. K was low to high in content. The soil texture was clay with 49% clay, 41% sand and 10% silt. Analysis of variance showed that available P was significantly different between the study blocks (p <0.01) while pH and %clay were significantly different between blocks (p <0.05). The rest of the soil properties were not significantly different across the site. Correlation analysis showed that sand and clay had the highest negative significant correlation (r = −0.94, p < 0.01) while Na and Ca had the highest positive significant correlation (r = 0.99, p <0.01). pH had a positive significant correlation with OC and K (p <0.05). OC had a positive significant relationship with N and K (p <0.01), positive significant correlation with sand and a negative significant correlation with clay (p <0.05). N and K had a positive significant correlation (p <0.05). P was not significantly correlated with any soil property. Clay and silt had a negative significant correlation (p <0.01). Comparisons of MUARIK soil with maize and cassava requirements revealed that the soils were moderately suitable for maize and cassava production. However, the major limitation for maize production on this soil is the low available P and K while the limitation for cassava production is the soil clayey texture and low calcium levels.