Ghana Journal of Agricultural Science

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Assessing the influence of land-use change on the variability of soil chemical properties in semi-arid zone of Ghana

D S MacCarthy, P L Vlek, M Fosu


The study aimed at providing basis to consider spatial variability in soil fertility to inform effective decision making in mineral fertilizer recommendations. The study area was classified into six land-use categories using a rural rapid appraisal technique with the aid of the farmers in the community, and by remote sensing satellite imagery (Quick bird). Land-use categories varied significantly in their nutrient, organic carbon content, and stock with coefficient of determination ranging from 0.14 to 0.46. This is reflected in decline in soil nutrient, organic carbon content, and stock with increasing number of years the land was put under cultivation except for permanently cultivated fields. Permanantly cultivated fields were located in the homestead and benefited from nutrient imports from the bush fields. The two farm types also differed significantly with respect to soil nutrients, organic carbon and stock. Soil organic carbon content was 8.2 and 4.5 g kg-1 for the homestead and bushfields, respectively. Soil organic carbon stock estimated for the two farm types were 125 and 74 t ha-1 for the homestead and bush fields, respectively. The study shows a distinct zone of nutrient enhancement within the homestead and bushfields that should be sampled separately when sampling the zone for fertilizer recommendations.

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