Title: Investigation of the potential of forage species at enhancing the sustainability of rangeland and crop soils.
Student name: Boniphace Nkombe
Supervisor: Dr. David Barker
Drought, poor soils due to compaction, erosion, and lack of soil organic matter and poor soil structure limits both crop production and rangeland productivity in arid and semiarid regions of central Tanzania. This study will investigate the potential of forage species at enhancing the sustainability of degraded rangelands and cropland soils. The study will be conducted in the semi-arid region of central Tanzania. The experiment will use a split plot design with two factors namely Species at three levels plus the control as the main plot factor and the fertilizer at two levels plus the control treatment. The rangeland sites vegetation treatment as main plot factor include; Cenchrus ciliaris (buffel grass), Chloris gayana (Rhodes grass), Stylosanthes scabra (Shrubby stylo) and the control. The subplot factor (fertilizer treatment) include; Nitrogen, phosphorous and the control treatment. On the other hand, the crop land sites main plot factor treatment (forage species) will include Eragrostis tef, Brachiaria deflexa, Macroptilium lathyroides and the control. The subplot factor treatment (fertilizer) will be the same as for the rangeland site. The variables that will be measured includes; herbage yield, soil organic matter, water infiltration, root mass, soil compaction, vegetation cover and composition, soil bulk density, soil moisture, plant density. At the end of the experiment we hypothesize to observe changes in a positive direction in terms of herbage yield, organic matter, water infiltration rate, change in botanical composition and ground cover as an indicator of soil quality improvement.