Comparative topsoil characterization of Selected cropping systems and slopes in inland valleys ecosystem around Ishiagu, southeastern Nigeria: Textural and selected soil chemical properties
Keywords:cropping systems, fallow land, intercropping, lowland, mixed cropping, sole cropping, toposequences
Cropping systems in Southeastern Nigeria is characterized with sole cropping, intercropping and mixed cropping patterns with no consideration of their effect on soil properties. A study was conducted in 2018 at Ishiagu, Ebonyi State, to evaluate the effect of different cropping systems on selected soil chemical properties in lowland areas of Southeastern Nigeria. The cropping systems were built into a split plot in randomized complete block design (RCBD). Eight different cropping systems (sole okro, sole maize, sole rice, sole cassava, maize + cassava, maize + okro, yam /cassava /cocoyam /maize /okra /castor oil bean, and fallow land), constituted the subplots, while the slope positions (upper, middle and lower slopes) represent the whole plots. Random and systematic methods of sampling were used to collect soil samples from the studied cropping system sites. In each of the cropping system site, soil samples were collected from upper, middle and lower slopes at 0 to 30 cm soil depth. Soil chemical properties evaluated were soil pH, organic carbon and total nitrogen. Results revealed that maize + okro intercrop significantly (P < 0.05) improved soil organic carbon (2.34%), while the least value was obtained from the intercrop of maize + cassava (0.86%). The results also indicated that the highest soil pH of 6.6 was obtained from the field with intercrop of maize + okro. Results generally indicated that all the intercropped fields including the fallow field significantly improved the soil pH higher than the sole cropped fields, except on the okro sole field. However, there was no significant (P < 0.05) difference among the different cropping systems on soil total nitrogen improvement. Generally, results noted the superiority of intercropping/mixed cropping over sole cropping in the improvement of soil chemical properties in the study area.
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