Soil degradation and desertification pose a major threat to agricultural production in sub-Saharan Africa. The influence of cropping systems which had been established on selected physical and chemical properties of soil were investigated in Akinyode-Okinni community in Egbedore Local Government Area (LGA) of Osun State, Nigeria. The cropping systems included agri-silviculture (SCM), silvi-pasture (SPC), agri-horti-silviculture (PAH) and agroforestry (AFT) selected from existing farms in the community. The selected plots had cocoa (Theobroma cacao), oil palm (Elais guineensis) and kola-nut (Kola nitida) as permanent crops; coco-yam (Coco nucifera), guinea grass (Panicum maximum), plantain (Musa spp), maize (Zea mays), and cassava (Manihot utilissima) were the annual crops. The experiment was carried out for two cropping seasons. Results showed that in the AFT system bulk density (BD) decreased slightly from 1.22 to 1.16 g/cm3 in the top soil and from 1.18 to 1.09 g/cm3 in the subsoil after two seasons of crop growth. The pH varied between 6.40 and 7.05 in the first season and between 7.05 and 7.29 after two seasons. On average, the topsoil contained more organic carbon (OC) in the SPC (38 g kg-1) and SCM (36 g kg-1) systems than in the PAH and AFT systems. Similarly, the total phosphorus content was higher in the topsoil of SPC and SCM systems than in the other systems. There was a slight reduction in soil acidity and no significant changes occurred in the concentrations of exchangeable bases after two cropping seasons. Conclusively, these cropping systems have the potential to reduce soil deterioration and thus, further studies to develop appropriate management strategies are necessary.
Key words: Cropping systems, exchangeable bases, organic carbon, silviculture, soil degradation.
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