The aim of this study was to analyze the depletion of soil nutrients with time on abandoned kraals in a peri-urban area of Botswana. Active kraals are enriched with nutrients through the accumulation of animal droppings and this study was aimed at assessing how long the impact of this soil nutrient enrichment persists after kraal abandonment. A total of 25 disused kraals, that had been abandoned for periods ranging from 1 to 45 years were sampled. The soil parameters analyzed included particle size distribution (%), bulk density (g/cm3), pore space (%), moisture content (%), pH in water and KCl solution, EC (µS/cm), organic matter (%), CEC (meq/100g), exchangeable Ca++(cmolc/kg), Mg++(cmolc/kg), K+(cmolc/kg), Na+ (cmolc/kg), nitrogen [NH4-N (mg/kg), NO3-N (mg/kg), TKN (%), and Olsen P (mg/kg). Results showed that soil nutrient concentrations on abandoned kraals generally were significantly higher than at the control sites. Soil nutrient concentrations decreased with time as abandoned kraals retrogressed towards their pre-kraal conditions. However, the effects of soil nutrient enrichment from animal wastes persist long after kraal abandonment. For example, soil Olsen P, Ca++ and Mg++ levels in kraal sites that had been abandoned for over 45 years were still significantly higher than in the control sites. In a pastoral system such as is practiced in Botswana where kraal manure is not used as soil amendment, the whole ecosystem suffers as soil nutrients are transferred and concentrated at isolated spots (kraals).
Key words: Abandoned kraal, soil nutrient status, pastoral systems, semi-arid.
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