Effects of land management practices on soil macro fauna abundance and diversity
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A field experiment was conducted at Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo (MUARIK) situated in North Kyadondo Constituency, Wakiso district, central Uganda to evaluate the effect of land management practices on soil macro fauna abundance and diversity. The study compared soil macro fauna abundance and diversity under mulching, fallowing and herbicide application management practices. Each was sampled for macro fauna using the randomized quadrat method where three samples were taken from each treatment once a week for six weeks. Termites were typed to their caste that is the workers that forage for food and build the mounds and the highly specialized soldiers that defend the colonies against predators while earthworms were typed to their feeding and burrowing habits that is the epigeics, endogeics and anecics. The highest earthworm abundance was found in the mulch while the lowest earthworm abundance was in the herbicide treatment. On the other hand, the highest termite abundance was also found in the mulch while the lowest was in the fallow. Epigeics were the highest earthworm species in all the practices but they were higher in the mulches and the anecics were the lowest in all the practices. The worker termites were the highest overall but highest in the mulches while the soldier termites were highest in the fallow. A correlation analysis showed that sodium had a moderately positive strong relationship with both termite and earthworm abundance while some properties like %clay had a negative weak correlation with earthworm abundance but a positive weak correlation with termite abundance. In general, most of the soil properties had a weak correlation with earthworm and termite abundance and from the ANOVA results, only potassium was significantly different while for soil macro fauna abundance and diversity, all of them were significant apart from the epigeics, anecics and soldiers. It can be concluded that mulching is a good management practice to ensure favorable conditions for soil macro fauna that consequently result into improved soil organic matter hence increase in crop yields. On that note therefore, ecologically sound agricultural practices like mulching and fallowing that provide favorable micro climate and increase food quality and diversity should be adopted.