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Tropentag, October 5 - 7, 2004 in Berlin

"Rural Poverty Reduction
through Research for Development and Transformation"

Physical, Chemical and Biological Degradation of Tropical Soils in a Land Use System with Low Input

Birte Junge, Armin Skowronek

University of Bonn, Institute for Soil Science, Germany


IMPETUS (an integrated approach to the efficient management of scarce water resources in West Africa) investigates the effects of global climate change on regional hydrological proc-esses and on water availability in Benin and Morocco since 2000. Within this interdisciplinary project, the current situation of the soils developed in the catchment area of the river Aguima (30 km2, 100 km W of Parakou) and different kind of soil degradation in a land use system with low input were examined.
To determine the influence of agriculture on soils, several investigations were carried out in the pastoral used savannah and on cultivated land during the rainy season of the years 2001 and 2002. Runoff plots were installed on fields with different crops (cotton, yam, maize) and differ-ent tillage systems (rows, mounds) and in the savannah for measuring the current soil erosion by water. Additionally, the nutrient supply of crop land in settlements of different ages were compared. To determine the abundance and activity of soil fauna, the population density of earthworms was counted and bait-lamina tests and litter-bag tests were carried out in different used fields.
The measurements show the most runoff and soil loss on fields with crops planted in rows leading parallel to slope or in mounds. The investigations also indicate a decreasing nutrient supply with increasing time when no fertiliser are used and fallows are shortened. Further-more, the low population density of earthworms, the low feeding activity and decomposition rate on crop land also show a biological degradation under the influence of agriculture.
So, land use systems with low input and shortened fallows in Benin lead to different kind of soil degradation which will consequently result in problems for food production in the future.

Keywords: Benin, low input land use system, soil degradation, West Africa

Contact Address: Birte Junge, University of Bonn, Institute for Soil Science, Nussallee 13, D-53115 Bonn, Germany, e-mail: junge@boden.uni-bonn.de

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