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The potential role of agroforestry in maintaining soil fertility on communal dambos of Matopo: towards a holistic approach to dambo management.

Daniel Sithole


The paper presents some of the findings of a study on communally managed dambos of Matopo. Despite legislation curtailing their use, they are being used for grazing, and crop and vegetable production. The soils in the cultivated dambos suffer from major phosphorus and sulphur deficiencies and have low nitrogen and organic matter content. Organic fertilizers play a significant role in maintaining soil fertility on these dambos but the problems of deforestation and land shortage are adversely affecting this management strategy. Agroforestry in the cultivated areas of the dambos and over the whole catchment area is seen as a practical solution as it has multiple benefits for the communal farmers. Live fences around fields provide protection from livestock, help to stabilise the soil and aid in nutrient cycling by providing prunings as a source of organic matter. They also reduce pressure on forests by replacing their role as sources of fencing material. The potential of relay cropping with Sesbania is also explored as it has multiple benefits that include improving soil fertility, and the conservation of soil and moisture, and the supply of fuel wood.

Transactions of the Zimbabwe Scientific Association Volume 72 (Supplement) 1998, pp. 43-47