Characterizing and Classifying Soils of Sentele Watershed, Hadiya Zone, Southern Ethiopia
Background: Soil morphological, physical, and chemical characteristics are vital for determining suitable land use and increasing crop productivity under certain environmental conditions. Thus, this study was carried out to characterize and classify the soils of the Sentele Watershed in southern Ethiopia.
Materials and Methods: The preliminary boundary of the Watershed and soil mapping units (SMU) was defined using a topographic map (1:50,000). Four soil pedons were dug, and soil samples were collected from the pedons and taken to the laboratory for testing soil physical and chemical parameters. The soil pedons were described using FAO soil description guideline.
Results: The soils in the Watershed range from intermediately deep to deep (70 to >200 cm), with varying colors (dark brown to reddish-brown); varying structures (sub-angular to blocky); moderate to well-drained; and the texture varying from loam, clay loam, and clay. The pH of the soil ranges from 5.6 to 6.4, from moderately acidic to slightly acidic. The soil OC contents vary from medium to very high (1.12–4.9%), medium to high TN contents (0.135–0.484%), and very low to medium contents of AP (8.9–30.1) mg kg–1 soil. The soils have moderate to high CEC (23.8–34.2 cmol (+) kg soil–1). Ca and Mg are the dominant exchangeable cations, followed by K and Na. The soils belong to Rhodic Luvisols, Silandic Andosols, Rhodic Nitisols, and Vertic Luvisols.
Conclusion: The four pedons of the various land mapping units have varied soil morphological, physical, and chemical characteristics. Crop yield is limited by moderate to slight acidity, available phosphorus, and boron. The soils were categorized into one of four classification groups: Chromic Luvisols, Silandic Andosols, Rhodic Nitisols, and Vertic Luvisols. The results show that soils must be used for sustainable agricultural production based on their classification and the potential and limitations they have.
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