THE EFFECT OF TILLAGE, COMPOST AND MULCH ON SOME SOIL PHYSICAL PROPERTIES OF A HUMIC NITISOL

  • D B Thomas
  • C.K K Gachene

Abstract

Good soil physical properties are necessary for quality crop production and essential for good soil conservation programme. Soil water intake and transmission, amount of runoff, soil aeration, microbial activity and root growth are all closely related to soil physical properties (Benjamin, 1993; Gupta et al., 1977; Maurya and Lal, 1979; Harte, 1984; Lal et al., 1980). Tillage, compost and mulch play significant role in altering important soil structural characteristics. Compost enriches soil organic matter and modifies many soil physical properties such as water holding capacity and release characteristics, and soil structure (Cecil, 1990; FAO, 1977; FAO, 1987). Mulch placement reduces runoff and soil loss by providing protective cover against rain drop impact and minimises water loss caused by evaporation (Hudson, 1981).

Although minimum tillage is useful in controlling erosion in unstable soils (Lal, 1976), crop yields may be low due to unfavourable soil physical conditions caused by high bulk density, low porosity in compacted soils (Raney et al., 1955). The physical properties of a soil profile with compacted layer which restricts root growth can be modified by deep tillage (Ebrahim and Miller, 1989). Double digging, is a deep tillage technique used to build up a deep loose layer of topsoil for intensive cultivation (FAO, 1987; KIOF [undated]). Double digging loosens hard soil layers, increases water infiltration and storage capacities and, improves aeration and root development which results to better crop yields because of the improved soil conditions (Zimmerman and Kardos, 1961).

Although these soil management practices play vital role in conserving soil and water resources for agricultural development, they can not be used universally but should be site specific. Double digging practices are used by many farmers on Nitisols (FAO-UNESCO, 1990) mainly in central and other parts of Kenya. Although compost improves soil organic matter, the effects of double-digging on less dense soils like Nitisols is not documented. The objective of this study was, therefore, to investigate the effects of double digging, compost, and mulch on some soil physical properties of Nitisols.

Published
2008-09-15
How to Cite
Thomas, D., & Gachene, C. (2008). THE EFFECT OF TILLAGE, COMPOST AND MULCH ON SOME SOIL PHYSICAL PROPERTIES OF A HUMIC NITISOL. East African Agricultural and Forestry Journal, 69(3&4). Retrieved from https://www.kalro.org/www.eaafj.or.ke/index.php/path/article/view/134