With slash-and-burn agriculture, changes in soil properties occur, which could influence crop production and future soil fertility recommendations. The objectives of this study were to: Identify dynamic soil properties that could be used to monitor soil quality; evaluate residual effects of slash-and-burn; and establish P and K fertilizer equivalence values of ash from slash-and-burn. Each experimental site was divided into 3 blocks within which treatments were randomly allocated. Broadcast burning and pile burning were carried out as practiced by local farmers. Soil samples were collected before burning (control), immediately after burning (burned) and one year after burning and cropping (burned-cropped), hereafter referred to as treatments. Soil samples were analyzed following standard analytical methods. P and K fertilizer equivalence values of the soil tests immediately before burning and after one year cropping of burned land were established and compared. The most sensitive soil properties to slash-and-burn were coarse silt, fine silt, pH, organic carbon (OC), total N (totN), P, Ca, Mg, K, Na, exchange acidity, effective cation exchange capacity (ECEC) and base saturation (BS). Between 47 and 87% of increases in content of exchangeable bases and available P resulting from burning of forest vegetation cover is lost after one year of cropping positive. Benefits in soil P and K attributed to slash and burn agriculture after one year cropping in terms of fertilizer equivalence was between 1 to 18 kg P2O5 and 22 to 76 K2O. P and K fertilizer recommendations for targeted crop yields based on the initial soil fertility status of the secondary forest in the humid forest zone of Cameroon should be 9 kg P2O5 and 49 kg K2O less in the second year of cropping.
Key words: Slash-and-burn, soil properties, humid forest zone, shifting cultivation, Southern-Cameroon.
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