Impact of long-term conventional cropping practices on some soil quality indicators at Ethiopian Wonji sugarcane plantation

Alemayehu, Dengia; Lantinga, E.A.


Over the last 50 years, the sugarcane yield in Wonji plantation has declined by about 40%. Perhaps one of the possible causes for the decline is soil degradation. Thus, the major soil quality indicators were evaluated for the extent of change that might occur due to long-term conventional cropping practices. To that end bio-sequential soil sampling was performed by collecting soil samples from adjacent virgin and cultivated lands of Wonji sugar cane plantation. The samples were analyzed and compared for major soil properties. The result showed that the SOM contents of cultivated land were 53% and 34% lower than the virgin land at 0 cm-30 cm and 30-60 cm depths, respectively. Total N, P Olsen, exchangeable K and soil EC of the cultivated land were also 56%, 84%, 86% and 54% lower than the virgin land at 0 cm-30 cm. The differences were also significant at 30 cm-60 cm. There was no significant change in soil pH at both depths. In general long-term conventional cropping practices depleted the SOM, total N, P Olsen and exchangeable K. However, pH and EC were in the optimum range that soil acidity, salinity and alkalinity were not a problem. As the soil type of the plantation is heavy clay, particularly, the degradation in SOM content might cause the yield decline. In order to fully identify, understand and manage the problems of soil quality deterioration further study is necessary