Volcanic soils which comprise a minor portion worldwide are generally characterized by their high natural fertility yet susceptible to soil erosion due to their fragility. Regardless of which, the success in soil management to maintain its quality depends on the understanding of how the soil properties respond to its disturbance through tillage practices over time. This study was conducted in the highland region of Rwanda, Musanze District, Busogo Sector from December 2016 to June 2017, to evaluate the short term effect of conventional and reduced tillage on certain physical and chemical properties of volcanic soils. Bulk density (BD) and total porosity (TP) as induced soil compaction and aeration respectively were selected as soil physical properties. Soil pH, soil organic matter (SOM) and soil organic carbon (SOC) as generally used in soil fertility assessments and land suitability were selected as soil chemical properties. Soil samples were collected at the end of May 2017 from the plots laid out in RCBD replicated four times, then analyzed and data were subjected to ANOVA using GeniStat software. The results showed no significant difference in SOM and BD (p>0.05) while soil pH was significantly different (p<0.05) in these tillage systems. The results of this study evinced that reduced tillage is suitable in this region, since it is promising in the SOM enhancement. Evidences of this study will expose researchers and policy makers to new strategies to improve the soil structure stability, yet minimizing soil vulnerability in this highland region and countrywide.
Key words: Tillage, soil properties, soil disturbance, volcanic soils.
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