Physicochemical indicators of land degradation in Burkina Faso
Desertification and land degradation affect the livelihood of a large number of people in the drier areas of the world, but there is no generally accepted scale on which the degree of degradation should be measured. However, researchers work to find indicators of degradation. In this paper, we have investigated a number of soil-physicochemical parameters that are related to degradation in order to identify some of them that can be used as degradation indicators. Land use was assessed via a Landsat 7 ETM+ satellite image. Soil samples were taken and analysed. The results showed that high sand content and C/N values may be used as indicators of degradation, and high contents/values of C, N, available-K and especially soil cation exchange capacity (CEC) may be used as indicators of no or weak degradation. The CEC variable showed the steepest gradient in relation to land use, and this parameter may be the most useful soil physicochemical degradation indicator.
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Keywords: Africa, desertification, land use, organic matter, soil fertility