Effectiveness of selected soil conservation practices on soil erosion control and crop yields in the Usambara Mountains, Tanzania


Indigenous soil conservation measures such as miraba have been widely used in Usambara Mountains for controlling soil erosion but with little success. On-farm runoff experiments were set from 2011–2014 on Acrisols in Majulai and Migambo villages with contrasting agro-ecological conditions in the Usambara Mountains, Tanzania. The aim was to investigate the effectiveness of miraba and miraba with various mulching materials in reducing runoff, soil and nutrient losses and improving productivity of maize (Zea mays) and beans (Phaseolus vulgaris). Results show that mean annual runoff coefficients (mm mm -1 ) ranged from 0.72 for cropland with no soil conservation measure (control) to 0.15 for cropland with miraba and Tithonia (Tithonia diversifolia) mulching in Majulai village and respectively from 0.68 to 0.13 in Migambo village. Soil loss was significantly (P = .05) higher under control than under miraba with either Tughutu (Vernonia myriantha) or Tithonia -1 -1 mulching e. g. 184 vs. 20 in Majulai and 124 vs. 8 Mg ha year in Migambo village in 2012. The P- factors were significantly (P = .05) higher under miraba sole than under miraba with mulching in Majulai village (0.18 vs. 0.11) and in Migambo village (0.10 vs. 0.05).The annual nutrient losses in kg ha -1 yr -1 were significantly (P = .05) higher under control than under miraba with mulching 367 vs. 37 total N, 0.8 vs. 0.1 P and 14 vs. 4 K for Majulai village; 474 vs. 26 total N, 0.7 vs. 0.1 P and 20 vs. 1.2 K for Migambo village in 2012. Maize and bean yields were significantly (P = .05) higher under miraba with Tughutu mulching than under control (e.g. 2.0 vs. 0.7 Mg ha -1 for maize in Majulai in 2012). Thus miraba with Tughutu mulching is more effective in improving crop yields than miraba with Tithonia and miraba sole.



Runoff experiments, indigenous SWC, miraba, soil and nutrient losses, RUSLE, maize, beans


DOI: 10.9734/JAERI/2015/13636