Soil resource survey and evaluation for agricultural land use planning in part of Mbeya region, Tanzania

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University of Dar es Salaam
In Tanzania there is a great and urgent need for land resource assessment as a basis for a rational land use planning. This study attempts to apply a soil resource survey to meet this need. A detailed examination of the philosophies and principles underlying most existing studies on soil survey and land evaluation in the tropics in general and Tanzania in particular has revealed that they are based on environmental conditions prevailing in Europe and North America. Landsat satellite images and aerial photo interpretation as well as field work and soil laboratory analysis of physical, mineralogical and chemical properties as a technique of analysing the physical and human environment against which soil survey and land evaluation for agricultural activities are conducted is employed. The environmental conditions of the study area also inventoried. The study of porous soils derived from volcanic parent materials has shown that pedogenetic processes such as leaching, gleying, salinization and erosion which tend to lower the agricultural potential of part of Mbeya region are operative and their severity varies over the study area whilst processes such as formation of structure, humification and mineralization of organic matter, formation of clay minerals and lessivage which maintain or improve soil productivity do also occcur. The rate of loss of plant nutrients and soil productivity do also occur. The rate of loss of plant nutrients and soil degradation is greater on the windward side than on the leeward side of the Poroto and Rungwe mountains due mainly to differences in climate. It is therefore predicted that the future soils behaviour is more inclined to degradation unless scientific management practices are applied. The studied soils are also correlated to the FAO-UNESCO Legend and the Soil Taxonomy. Evaluation of these soils has revealed that specific land utilization types are suited only to particular ecological and management conditions and topographic and climatic conditions influence the selection of land use types. Current potential suitability offers some development strategy including farmers' education, training of extension staff as well as research support in order to offer better opportunities for a sustainable agricultural production.
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Soil surveys, Mbeya (region), Tanzania
Rugumamu, W. (1988) Soil resource survey and evaluation for agricultural land use planning in part of Mbeya region, Tanzania, Doctoral dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Available at (