Assessment of water quality and soil properties for irigation in the horticultural crops producing areas of Alhegaina, North Kordofan State Sudan
Adam, hamed mohammed ibrahim
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Sudan is a large country with a great diversity of climatic and agro-ecological zones. The horticultural acreage in the Sudan is estimated at 273,000 hectares, representing about 3% of the total crop area. The area under horticultural crops is on the increasing for it is fetching good money for the farmers. Horticultural crops comprise the groups of vegetables,fresh legumes, fruit trees, ornamental plants, plantation crops, medicinal and aromatic plants and spices. The present study was conducted in Alhegaina area, North Kordofan-Sudan,with an aim of assessing the quality of water used for irrigation and soil properties for the production of horticultural crops mainly onions and tomatoes. The data of the study were obtained from two sources, from soil and water samples analysis, and from a questionnaire which was prepared to assess the farmers’ perception on the factors affecting horticultural crops production in Alhegaina. Soil samples were taken from depths 0-15, 15-30 and 30-40 cm and were collected from 10 small scale farms, in which 5 farms used surface water while the other 5 farms used ground water for irrigation. Six water samples were collected during dry and wet seasons, three from surface sources (dams) and the other three from sub-surface normal wells. The sampled soil and water were analyzed for various parameters in the laboratory. Using the questionnaire, fifty six small garden holders (10%)were interviewed randomly. For data analysis, statistical mean comparisons based on T-test using Excel and SPSS packages were used. The results of the study indicated that water sources, that is from sub-surface and surface sources did not differ significantly and that their chemical values were within the limits acceptable for irrigation and crop production. However, the concentrations of the bi-carbonates were somewhat high (between 50-135mg/L) while for other chemicals, the concentrations (Na, Ca ,Mg, K and even EC and TDS) were fairly within the permissive limits for use. For example, EC of water and that of soil extracts were between 0.03-0.1 for water and 0.38-0.01 dS/m for soil extracts. Surface water pH was slightly alkaline (7.38 – 7.68) while that from sub-surface was slightly acidic (6.98-6.69). The soils generally were of low soil fertility with very low values of N and P, and in some cases K. With the farmers’ perception on horticultural crops production, farmers were generally poorly informed, have low education and rarely use fertilizer inputs in crop production. There is need therefore to improve their knowledge on crop management and production. The Government has to come up with a policies on farmers’ education,on inputs usage especially fertilizers and on credit facilitation to farmers.