Status of selected indicators of soil fertility in different agricultural land use types in central Uganda
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Inappropriate agricultural land use and management, characterized by low input and continuous cultivation, has resulted in decline in soil fertility particularly in central Uganda. The trend is likely to worsen unless appropriate soil fertility management strategies are adopted by the farming communities. The objective of this study was to assess the status of key soil fertility indicators in different agricultural land uses in central Uganda. A survey was conducted in Kasawo sub-county, Mukono District, using an open ended questionnaire administered on 13 household representatives. The study focused on three main agricultural land use types, namely the banana (Musa sp.) dominated plantation, annual crops fields and short term fallows. Information was collected on the duration, management and historical aspects of each agricultural land use type. Results showed that the banana land use type was superior in terms of soil fertility compared to the short term fallows and annual crops fields. Soil organic matter was significantly higher in the banana land use type compared to the annual crop fields and short term fallow (p≤ 0.05), both of which were not significantly different. Bray 1 extractable phosphorus showed a significant difference between the bananas dominated planation and short term fallow (p≤ 0.05).However, there were no significant differences between total nitrogen and extractable potassium among the investigated agricultural land use types. Soil pH, organic matter and all the primary nutrients were above their lower critical limits in both the banana dominated plantations and annual crops fields. Although SOM and exchangeable K+ were above the critical limit for plant growth in the fallow, total N and P were below the lower critical limits in this land use type. The information generated on these properties is useful in designing appropriate soil fertility management interventions to achieve sustainable soil fertility levels in the different land use types of central Uganda.