Characterization and classification of soils along a typical Hillslope in Afikpo area of Ebonyi state, Nigeria
Three pedons representing soils on the summit to shoulder (Pedon 1), backslope to footslope (Pedon 2) and toeslope (Pedon 3) positions along a typical hillslope in Afikpo area of Ebonyi State of Nigeria were studied regarding their morphological, physico-chemical and mineralogical properties. The soils were also classified according to the criteria of the USDA Soil Taxonomy and the FAO World Reference Base for Soil Resources. Soils of Pedons 1 & 2 occur on very strongly sloping, severely eroded uplands and are derived from ferruginous, feldspathic sandstone with shale intercalations. The soils in the toeslope position, occur on extensive, nearly level plains which are seasonally waterlogged with colluvio-alluvial sediments constituting the parent material. Irrespective of slope position, all the soils are very strongly acidic with a narrow pH range of 4.6 – 5. 1 and an average exch. Al3+ content of 3.77cmol kg-1 in all the horizons studied. Levels of organic C, total N, avail. P, exch. Ca, Mg, and K, range from being very low in Pedon 1, low to moderate in Pedon 2 but moderate to high in Pedon 3 indicating a gradual improvement in soil fertility from the summit to the toeslope of the hillslope . Kaolinite, mica, quartz, microcline, plagioclase, goethite and gibbsite were detected in the silt fraction of all the soils while kaolinite and poorly ordered illite as well as Fe-rich chlorite dominated the clay mineralogy. According to the criteria of the USDA Soil Taxonomy, the upland soils are Typic Udorthents while the valley bottom soils are Mollic Fluvaquents. In the FAO-WRB system, they qualify as Hper-Dystric Regosols and Mollic Gleysols respectively. Recommendations regarding soil management options have been included.
Key words: acid soils, characterization, classification, Entisols, hillslope