Pedological perspective of gully erosion sites within Kendu escarpment-Sondu Miriu Region, West Kenya
Gully erosion is a common feature in western Kenya, rendering large expanses of otherwise arable land uncultivable and uninhabitable. Gully erosion in the area was classified into two types: the Awach-type and the Sondu-type. The current study aimed at providing insight into physical and chemical properties of soil that promote soil erosion and determine the gully formation type. Field studies were conducted at 4 sites (3 eroded and 1 non- eroded). Physical (particle size distribution, structure stability, infiltration rate, dispersibility, and soil hardness), and chemical (pH, exchangeable cations, total-C, and total-N) properties of soil samples collected from the sites were analyzed in the laboratory. The results showed alkaline pH; high exchangeable sodium (Na) percentage (ESP); fragile soil structure; high dispersibility; and low infiltration rate are major factors contributing to the formation of Awach-type of gully. In contrast, impermeable top layer of hard crust and coarse-textured soil layers beneath it in addition to high ESP facilitated the formation of Sondu-type of gully. Soils of the eroded sites and the non-eroded sites differed mainly in the ESP, which influenced the soil structure stability, water infiltration rate, and soil dispersibility. Susceptibility of soil layers to erosion depended on the magnitude of ESP and sand content.
Keywords: Exchangeable sodium percentage, gully erosion, infiltration rate, Kenya, soil dispersion, soil structure.