Location and Land use effects on Soil Carbon Accretion and Productivity in the Coastal Savanna Agro-ecological Zone of Ghana
Land use type, climate and soil properties are major determinants of soil carbon storage and productivity, especially in low-input agriculture. In this study, we investigated the interactions among these factors at four (4) locations, namely Accra Metropolis, Ga West, Ga East and Shai Osudoku, within the Coastal-Savannah agro-ecological zone of Ghana. The land use types were maize-based cropping, cassava-based cropping, woodlot/plantations and natural forests. The impact of these on soil productivity at a given location was assessed in terms of soil carbon stocks and a Soil Productivity Index (SPI). The SPI is a composite value derived from routine soil properties such as: soil texture, available water capacity, pH, cation exchange capacity, soil organic carbon, available P, exchangeable K, potentially mineralizable nitrogen, and basic cations, among others. Principal component analysis was used to select soil properties that were used to estimate SPI. The results showed that the locations differed with respect to rainfall regimes and soil types. Locations with slightly heavier soil texture and relatively higher rainfall regimes (Ga East and Shai Osudoku) had significantly higher soil carbon storage and SPI values than the lighter soil textured locations (Accra Metropolis and Ga West). With regards to land use, forest had significantly higher soil carbon storage and SPI than all the other land use types, irrespective of location. The order of soil carbon storage and SPI were: forest > woodlot/plantation > cassava > maize. It was observed that though the Accra Metropolis location hosted the oldest forest, soil carbon was still low, apparently due to the lighter soil texture. We concluded that the soil productivity restorative ability is an interactive effect of carbon management (land use), soil texture and other properties. This interaction hitherto has not been adequately investigated, especially in low-input agriculture.