Pedological characterization of some typical soils of Busia county, Western Kenya: soil morphology, physico-chemical properties, classification and fertility trends

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International Journal of Plant & Soil Science


Standard soil survey was carried out in Western Kenya to establish representative research sites on the basis of landforms and other physiographic attributes. Soil profiles were characterized at Emalomba (Nambale District) designated (EMA-P1) and at Bukhalalire (Butula District) named BUMA-P1. Both pedons formed from in-situ weathering of granitic rocks under ustic moisture and iso-hyperthermic temperature regimes. Fourteen soil samples from genetic horizons were analyzed for physico-chemical properties. Both pedons had dark brown sandy clay and sandy clay loam topsoils overlying dominantly clayey subsoils. Both pedons indicate clay eluviation-illuviation as a dominant pedogenic process with strong acidic soil conditions and available phosphorus of < 7 mg/kg soil. Organic carbon (OC) is high in EMA-P1 and medium to very low in BUMA-P1 while total nitrogen is medium and low to very low. EMA-P1 and BUMA-P1 have C/N ratios of 8.6 - 9.6 and 12.9 - 24.8 respectively. Both pedons have low to very low exchangeable bases with cation exchange capacity (CEC) < 16 cmol(+)/kg soil. CEC clay values in both pedons are < 24 cmol(+)/kg with BUMA-P1 having < 10 cmol(+)/kg. Both soils are highly weathered with BUMA-P1 depicting more advanced stage of weathering. In the USDA Soil Taxonomy, EMA-P1 was classified as Kanhaplic Haplustults and BUMA-P1 as Typic Kandiustults, both corresponding to Haplic Cutanic Acrisols in WRB. As regards soil fertility trends, OC showed positive correlation with calcium and magnesium indicating organic matter as the main source of plant nutrients. The two pedons differed noticeably in terms of physico-chemical characteristics emphasizing the need to characterize soils before fertilizer recommendations are made. Organic fertilizers are recommended to increase organic matter content and intercropping of cereals with nitrogen fixing legumes to enhance nitrogen in the soils. Use of non-acidifying inorganic fertilizers and lime as soil amendments should also be considered to correct acidity.



Pedological characterization, soil morphology, physico-chemical properties, soil classification, soil fertility trends, Busia County, Kenya