Effects of mulching on soil hydro-physical properties in Kibaale sub-catchment, south central Uganda
Makokha, George L.
Mensah, Albert K.
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Mulching is one of the major soil and water conservation measures applied for conserving soil moisture and modifying soil physical and chemical environment. The study aimed at assessing the effect of mulching on soil hydro-physical properties in Kibaale sub-catchment in South Central Uganda. Samples were obtained between 0-20 cm 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. The main parameters of study were; bulk density, saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ksat) and water retention. The parameters were determined using core method, constant head method and pressure plates’ method respectively. Laboratory data was statistically analyzed using Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) from Genstat software Edition 4 and the means differentiated using 5 % least significant difference (LSD). The application of mulch significantly improved all the soil hydro-physical properties that were studied (bulk density, Ksat, field capacity, wilting point, porosity, soil organic matter (SOM), mean weight diameter (MWD) after two seasons. The level of improvement was highest with 10 cm mulch thickness while Ksat, porosity and SOM varied significantly (P< 0.05) with mulch thickness. The study recommends the use of 10 cm mulch thickness. This study provides information to stakeholders such as agricultural experts, watershed managers, farmers and policy makers which will help in formulating guidelines on how to incorporate mulching as an effective method for soil and water conservation in the Sub-catchment