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Assessing the Effects of Land-Use and Land Cover Change and Topography on Soil Fertility in Melka Wakena Catchment of Sub-Upper Wabe-Shebelle Watershed, South Eastern Ethiopia

Hussein Hayicho, Mersha Alemu, Haji Kedir
Journal of Environmental Protection , Volume 10, pp 672-693; doi:10.4236/jep.2019.105040

Abstract: This study was conducted in Melka Wakena catchment; south eastern Ethiopia to assess land use/cover change (LULCC) and topographic elevation effect on selected soil quality/fertility parameters. 144 soil samples collected from 0 - 30 cm depth under three land cover types across three elevation gradients were analysed for selected soil quality/fertility parameters. Data were statistically analyzed using analysis of variance (ANOVA) and mean comparisons were made using Least Significant Difference (LSD). The soil properties examined generally showed significant variations with respect to land-use/land cover changes and elevation. Soil particles, soil organic carbon, total N, pH, available phosphorus, potassium and calcium content significantly decreased as forestland is converted into cropland/grassland. Heaviest soil deterioration was recorded in soils under cropland and followed by grassland soils. The conversion of natural forest to different land uses without proper soil conservation and management practices resulted in the overall decline of soil fertility quality. Thus, integrated land resource management approach is indispensable for sustaining agricultural productivity and the environmental health of the Melka Waken a catchment.
Keywords: soil fertility / catchment / land uses / use and land / Cover Change / Melka / Upper Wabe

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