Effects of mulching on soil hydro-physical properties and its adoption in kibaale sub-catchment, South Central Uganda
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Mulching is one of the major soil and water conservation measures applied for conserving soil moisture and modifying soil physical environment. The study aimed at assessing the effect of mulching on soil hydro-physical properties and its adoption in Kibaale sub-catchment, Uganda. Specific objectives were; to determine the effect of mulching on soil hydro-physical properties and to determine the farmers‟ socio economic and institutional factors affecting its adoption. Samples were obtained between 0-20cm depths and under 0, 5, 10 and 15 cm mulch thickness levels. The experiment involved 3 farmers and 4 treatments of Corn residue mulch thicknesses each replicated thrice on each of the farmer sites. Rainfall amount received per storm event was recorded using non-recording rain gauge at each farmer site. 100 structured questionnaires, key informant interviews and observation were used to obtain the socio economic and institutional data. Laboratory data was statistically analyzed using ANOVA from Genstat software Edition 4 and the means separated using 5 % LSD. To determine the factors affecting adoption of mulching, descriptive statistics and factor analysis were used. Chi-square (P≤05) was used to establish the relationship between the identified factors and adoption. The application of mulch significantly improved all the soil hydro-physical properties that were studied (bulk density, saturated hydraulic conductivity, field capacity, wilting point, porosity, SOM, MWD) after two seasons. The level of improvement is highest with 10 cm mulch thickness while Ksat, Porosity and SOM varied significantly (P<0.05) with mulch thickness. Using chi-square test, the study also identified Education level of household head, household size, accessibility to farmland and marital status as the major factors that significantly affected adoption of mulching. The study recommends the use of 10cm mulch thickness. The community leaders should ensure that the members attain some level of education and ensure that the land owned by individuals is within their periphery of management and control.