A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF CHANGES IN SOIL QUALITY UNDER TWO CROPPING SYSTEMS IN SANTA, NORTH WEST REGION, CAMEROON.
BY: Naseli Okha Dioh | Department of Development Studies | Environment and Natural Resource Management
The influence of two cropping systems (mono and mixed cropping) on soil physical and chemical properties was investigated in some farm lands in Santa. The specific aims were to find out the physical and chemical characteristics of soils under mixed and mono-cropping systems in Santa, to compare their fertility status in relation to their physical and chemical characteristics, and also to look at challenges faced by farmers practicing these cropping systems in Santa. Soil samples collected between depths of 0-20cm with the use of a soil augar on level land from plots under the two cropping systems and preserved in separate zip lock plastic bags were subjected to physico-chemical analyzes at the science research laboratory of the University of Dschang. The results indicate variations and similarities in the physical and chemical characteristics of soils under both cropping systems. Soils under mixed cropping had higher levels of Organic Matter (6.11 %), Cation Exchange Capacity (14.62 %), and Exchangeable Bases (Ca: 22.6 Cmol (+) kg, Mg: 1.50 Cmol (+) kg, and Na: o.39 Cmol (+) kg). Whereas soils under mono-cropping systems had lower pH (5.59), Exchangeable Bases (Ca: 1.66 Cmol (+) kg, Mg: 1.3 Cmol (+) kg, and Na: 0.02 Cmol (+) kg), and Cations Exchange Capacity (11.39 %). Bulk Density, Electrical Conductivity, total Nitrogen, Carbon to Nitrogen ratio, Calcium, Potassium and available phosphorus were not significantly different (p>0.05) for both cropping systems. Whereas Cation Exchange Capacity, Sodium, Magnesium, pH, and Exchangeable Acidity were significantly different (p<0.05) for soils under both cropping systems. Soil nutrient shortages, soil acidity, soil compaction (formation of hard pans), loss of top soil, shortage of water and destruction of irrigation pipes by cattle were some of the challenges faced by farmers who practiced these cropping systems in Santa. Mixed cropping is good in enhancing soil fertility through the reduction in soil erosion and higher organic matter build-up.
Key words: Physico-chemical characteristics, cropping system, soil fertility.