Understanding spatial patterns of soils for sustainable agriculture in northern Ethiopia’s tropical mountains

Autoři: Jan Nyssen aff001;  Sander Tielens aff002;  Tesfamichael Gebreyohannes aff003;  Tigist Araya aff004;  Kassa Teka aff004;  Johan Van de Wauw aff002;  Karen Degeyndt aff002;  Katrien Descheemaeker aff005;  Kassa Amare aff003;  Mitiku Haile aff004;  Amanuel Zenebe aff004;  Neil Munro aff006;  Kristine Walraevens aff007;  Kindeya Gebrehiwot aff004;  Jean Poesen aff002;  Amaury Frankl aff001;  Alemtsehay Tsegay aff009;  Jozef Deckers aff002
Působiště autorů: Department of Geography, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium aff001;  Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium aff002;  Department of Earth Sciences, Mekelle University, Mekelle, Ethiopia aff003;  Department of Land Resources Management and Environmental Protection, Mekelle University, Mekelle, Ethiopia aff004;  Department of Plant Production Systems, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands aff005;  Institute of Climate and Society, Mekelle University, Mekelle, Ethiopia aff006;  Department of Geology, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium aff007;  Research Foundation—Flanders (FWO), Brussels, Belgium aff008;  Department of Dryland Crop and Horticultural Sciences, Mekelle University, Mekelle, Ethiopia aff009
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(10)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0224041


Knowledge of the geographical distribution of soils is indispensable for policy and decision makers to achieve the goal of increasing agricultural production and reduce poverty, particularly in the Global South. A study was conducted to better understand the soilscapes of the Giba catchment (900–3300 m a.s.l.; 5133 km2) in northern Ethiopia, so as to sustain soil use and management. To characterise the chemical and physical properties of the different benchmark soils and to classify them in line with the World Reference Base of Soil Resources, 141 soil profile pits and 1381 soil augerings at representative sites were analysed. The dominant soil units identified are Leptosol and bare rock (19% coverage), Vertic Cambisol (14%), Regosol and Cambisol (10%), Skeletic/Leptic Cambisol and Regosol (9%), Rendzic Leptosol (7%), Calcaric/Calcic Vertisol (6%), Chromic Luvisol (6%) and Chromic/Pellic Vertisol (5%). Together these eight soil units cover almost 75% of the catchment. Topography and parent material are the major influencing factors that explain the soil distribution. Besides these two factors, land cover that is strongly impacted by human activities, may not be overlooked. Our soil suitability study shows that currently, after thousands of years of agricultural land use, a new dynamic equilibrium has come into existence in the soilscape, in which ca. 40% of the catchment is very suitable, and 25% is moderately suitable for agricultural production. In view of such large suitable areas, the Giba catchment has a good agricultural potential if soil erosion rates can be controlled, soil fertility (particularly nitrogen) increased, available water optimally used, and henceforth crop yields increased.

Klíčová slova:

Agricultural soil science – Basalt – Clay mineralogy – Crops – Erosion – Soil chemistry – Valleys – Paleopedology


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