Assessing Soil Properties and Landforms in the Mai-Negus Catchment, Northern Ethiopia
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Soil degradation is a serious environmental problem in Ethiopia. However, little information is documented on indicators such as variations in soil properties across different landforms in a catchment. This study was aimed to assess soil properties and their changes across sites with different erosion statuses, and identify landscape positions that require prior management attention in the Mai-Negus catchment, northern Ethiopia. Three types of erosion-status sites (stable, eroding and aggrading) were identified using reconnaissance surveys, and then the corresponding soil samples were collected and analyzed. The major soil properties were significantly varied (P <= 0.05) among the three erosion-status sites. The highest soil pH, organic carbon, total nitrogen, cation exchange capacity, iron and zinc were recorded from the aggrading sites in the reservoir and valley landforms of the study catchment. A higher bulk density was generally recorded in the eroding sites, whereas a lower value was observed in the aggrading sites. The highest sand content was observed in the eroding sites of the mountain followed by the central ridge landform. The paired mean difference and the correlation matrix of most soil properties between the different erosion statuses also showed significant differences. About 95% of the erosion status sites were correctly classified by the discriminant function, indicating that the field survey-based classification was acceptable for decision making. On the basis of this study, suitable interventions should thus be introduced to the prioritized landforms, which are the mountain and central ridge, and eroding sites with severely degraded soil properties across the catchment.
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