THE INFLUENCE OF SOIL GEOMORPHIC CHARACTERISTICS ON AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTIVITY
Background of the study
Geomorphic processes shape the Earth surface, and pedogenic processes produce soil horizons from parent material; this course deals with how these two groups of processes overlap and interact. That is, the work of geomorphic processes affects soil formation, for example, when stream sediment is deposited on an existing floodplain soil. At the same time, the development of soil horizons can alter the effectiveness of geomorphic processes such as hillslope erosion. Both geomorphic and pedogenic processes cannot really be separated from the rest of the ecosystems in which they occur; without landbased life of all kinds, Earth’s landscapes and soils would be very different.
Nigeria is a developing country that is facing diverse environmental problems. Soil erosion is one of the major environmental problems affecting the living condition of the peasant farmers. This remains the biggest challenge to the economic development of the country that is basically agrarian as it lowers yield and halts its growth. Factors including poor land use management practices, rapid population growth, and inequitable land tenure were cited as the major causes of soil erosion, besides intensity of rainfall, soils and terrain nature (Abayomi, 2012).
Although many regions of the country have been facing severe soil erosion, the situation is particularly more pronounced in the ecologically vulnerable areas of the northeastern part of the country. According to Okoye (2009), the northeastern region has the highest susceptibility rates of erosion in Nigeria, because its soils are mainly light and susceptible to erosion. Eventhough, the region, receives a relatively low amount of rainfall, the rains normally have large raindrop sizes and are of high intensities, usually commencing when there is little or no vegetation to offer protection to the soil. While the slopes of the highlands which dominate the region accelerate run- off which subsequently encourages soil erosion.
Unfortunately, despite the vulnerability status of the northeastern region to soil erosion, recent agricultural activities in the sloppy areas of the northern part of Taraba State have increased, however, unlike in the other areas in the humid tropic and subtropical regions where the recent human impact of agricultural use on hill slope areas has increased because of population pressure and the influence of developmental activities, this was, while, flatland areas exist. Hence, the question remains, why are farmers in this region engaged in this practice? Could this mean they do not understand
the magnitude of soil erosion problems prone to hill slopes? An attempt to answer these questions prompted this present research.
Although, several types of researches have been conducted on on-farm soil erosion in Nigeria generally, and in the study region in particular, but most of them have been focused on the quantitative assessment of the magnitude of soil erosion. Very few studies focused attention on the qualitative assessment of soil erosion using farmers’ perception of soil erosion and their conservation measures. Some experts believe that due to the insidious nature of pervasiveness of soil erosion, farmers may be ignorant of its seriousness and reluctant to response (Amsalu & de Graaff, 2006; Dalton, et al., 2014). While, many issues and decisions on on-farm soil erosion and its effects cannot be addressed solely through technical expertise because they need not only biophysical examination but also, perceptions and soil conservation understanding (Boardman et al., 2003). Thus, this forms the thrust of this study.
Farmers’ perceptions of soil erosion in the form of water erosion and fertility depletion and their conservation measures are the most significant social factors that determine the degree of understanding of soil erosion and its effects (Okoba & De Graaff, 2005). They influence the farmers’ levels of support and investment in the context of solving soil erosion and fertility depletion problems by adopting alternatives and conservation practices (Hammad & Borresen, 2006). Moreover, perceiving soil erosion as a problem by farmers is an important determinant of soil conservation (Vigiak et al., 2005). Bewket & Sterk (2002), had earlier reported that any conservation program might not be successful without prior understanding and consent of the concerned stakeholders, the farmers.
Similarly, as indicated by Kerr and Pender (2005), understanding changes associated with varying and dynamic land use system from the farmers’ perception is essential if
proper intervention measures are to be advanced and long-term management strategies are to be successfully adopted. Moreover, most farmers, particularly the untrained ones, decide on how to use their land in line with their objectives and understanding of soil, ignoring any theoretical basis. Therefore, analyzing farmers’ perception will help in identifying problems and workable solution that are necessary requirements for successful conservation measures.
Additionally, farmers’ perception of soil erosion and their responses to soil degradation in the form of water erosion differ from area to area and from household to household depending on the prevailing ecological, economic, and sociocultural characteristics. Therefore, the results from elsewhere cannot extrapolate to the northern part of Taraba State.
This Study The Influence Of Soil Geomorphic Characteristics On Agricultural Productivity
A study like this will be able to reveal a wide range of variation in the ability of the farmers, and to understand the manner in which human being intervenes in such system and alternatively on how well to manage soil erosion problems the canal factor of which is/ are anthropogenic.