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Assessment of soil degradation and chemical compositions in Rwandan tea-growing areas

Elsevier B.V.
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.gsf.2011.05.003
  • Chemical Elements
  • Fertilizer Use
  • Ph
  • Soil Degradation
  • Tea Plantations
  • Chemistry


Abstract This study has focused on the processes of soil degradation and chemical element concentration in tea-growing regions of Rwanda, Africa. Soil degradation accelerated by erosion is caused not only by topography but also by human activities. This soil degradation involves both the physical loss and reduction in the amount of topsoil associated with nutrient decline. Soil samples were collected from eleven tropical zones in Rwanda and from variable depth within each collecting site. Of these, Samples from three locations in each zone were analyzed in the laboratory, with the result that the pH of all soil samples is shown to be less than 5 (pH < 5) with a general average of 4.4. The elements such as iron (Fe), copper (Cu), manganese (Mn), and zinc (Zn) are present in high concentration levels. In contrast calcium (Ca) and sodium (Na) are present at low-level concentrations and carbon (C) was found in minimal concentrations. In addition, elements derived from fertilizers, such as nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K) which is also from minerals such as feldspar, are also present in low-level concentrations. The results indicate that the soil in certain Rwandan tea plantations is acidic and that this level of pH may help explain, in addition to natural factors, the deficiency of some elements such as Ca, Mg, P and N. The use of chemical fertilizers, land use system and the location of fields relative to household plots are also considered to help explain why tea plantation soils are typically degraded.

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