Title page for ETD etd-05042012-152635


Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Stewart, Ryan Elliott
Author's Email Address aiakos88@vt.edu
URN etd-05042012-152635
Title Physical and Chemical Parameters of Common Soils in the Central Plateau Region of Haiti
Degree Master of Science
Department Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Thomason, Wade E. Committee Chair
Hodges, Steven C. Committee Member
Mulvaney, Michael Committee Member
Keywords
  • organic matter fractions
  • phosphorus
  • Haiti
  • Central Plateau Region
  • rhizosphere
Date of Defense 2012-04-20
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
Soil degradation is a common occurrence in Haiti that is mainly caused by the cultivation of marginal lands and deforestation, which both contribute to the excessive erosion rate seen in the country today. The Central Plateau of Haiti is a mountainous region in which a majority of the population is rural and practices subsistence agriculture on hillsides and steeply-sloping land. Essential plant nutrients, such as nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), are commonly a limiting factor in crop production, yet fertilizer is unavailable or is too expensive for smallholder farmers to purchase. This study was conducted to a) evaluate organic matter and nutrient stocks of various soils in the Central Plateau region, along with other chemical and physical characteristics and b) to evaluate the phosphorus-scavenging ability of commonly-grown crops to isolate those that may benefit subsequent smallholder yields. Soils from four locations in the Central Plateau were assessed for organic matter in labile and non-labile fractions as well as for cation exchange capacity (CEC), total organic carbon (C) and N, pH, texture, and other characteristics. Results indicated that most of the soil (92%) was contained within aggregates, and organic matter was mainly present in stable, slowly-decomposing fractions. Seven species were evaluated in a controlled-environment pot experiment for bulk and rhizosphere soil P and pH, plant dry weight, and above- and below-ground P tissue content as indicators of the species’ ability to solubilize P from the soil. Velvet bean (Mucuna pruriens (L.) DC) produced the most biomass and was able to take up the most P, though lablab (Lablab purpureous (L.) Sweet), took up comparable amounts of P.
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