Main content area

Effects of land use and management on aggregate stability and hydraulic conductivity of soils within River Njoro Watershed in Kenya

Mainuri, Zachary G., Owino, James O.
International soil and water conservation research 2013 v.1 no.2 pp. 80-87
aggregate stability, analysis of variance, bulk density, clay fraction, forest plantations, forests, grasslands, highlands, hydraulic conductivity, image interpretation, land degradation, land use, landscapes, plateaus, rivers, small farms, soil erosion, soil surveys, soil types, valleys, watersheds, wetlands, Kenya
There has been tremendous changes in land use and management in the River Njoro Watershed during the last three decades. Formerly large scale farms have been converted into smallholder farms and plantation forests have gradually been lost. These changes in land use and management have brought in different approaches that have triggered soil erosion and other forms of land degradation. The objective of this study was to trace the changes in land use and determine their effects on aggregate stability and hydraulic conductivity. A semi detailed soil survey of the watershed was undertaken following a three-tier approach comprising image interpretation, field surveys and laboratory analysis. The measured variables in the soil were analysed using ANOVA and correlation analysis. The major land uses were found to be forestland, agricultural land, grassland, and wetland. A strong soil type _ landscape relationship was observed within the watershed. Soils of slopes were moderately to severely eroded, shallow and less developed whereas those on summits, pen plains, uplands, plateaus and valleys were deep and well developed. Aggregate stability was the highest in forestland and decreased in the order of grassland, agricultural land and wetland respectively. The mean weight diameter under the various land use conditions was 0.68, 0.64, 0.58, and 0 41 respectively. Hydraulic conductivity was the highest in forest-land and decreased in the order of agricultural land, grassland and wetland respectively. There was significant negative correlation between hydraulic conductivity and the bulk density and clay content of the soils. Reduced aggregate stability and lowered hydraulic conductivity is likely to be responsible for some of the severe soil erosion and other forms of land degradation observed in the River Njoro Watershed.