The biological and physical role of mulch in the rehabilitation of custed soil in the Sahel

A. Mando, L. Stroosnijder

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42 Citations (Scopus)


During three consecutive years (1993–1995) a split-plot design with three replications was used to study the biological and physical role of mulch in the improvement of crusted soil water balance and its productivity in the north of Burkina Faso. The main treatment was the use of an insecticide, to obtain plots with and without soil fauna (SF and NSF). The subsidiary treatment consisted of four mulch types randomly applied on subplots. These were straw of Pennisetum pedicellatum applied at 3 t ha-1, woody material of Pterocarpus lucens applied at 6 t ha-1 and composite (woody material and straw) treatments applied at 4 t ha-1. In addition there was a control, with no mulch (bare plot). Data on soil faunal activity, runoff, sediment accumulation from wind blown soil, vegetation cover and vegetation dry matter yield were collected on all plots. The biological activity (mainly termites) in mulched plots was the key element in the efficacy of mulching to rehabilitate crusted soil. Water infiltration and dry matter yield were statistically lower on NSF plots than on SF plots and runoff and dry matter yield were not different from the values obtained on bare plots. A significant correlation was found between runoff, all vegetation data and termite-voids. Sediment accumulation due to the physical barrier of the mulch was not found to be a significant factor in the improvement of vegetation performance and the reduction of runoff.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-130
JournalSoil Use and Management
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Crusts
  • Isoptera
  • Mulches
  • Plant residues
  • Rehabilitation
  • Runoff
  • Soil degradation
  • Soil fauna


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