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Degradation Rate/Vulnerability Potential and Fertility Status of Luvisols in the Mandara Mountains (Far-North Cameroon).

Soil degradation emerges as one of the major problems in the locality of Sir in the Mandara Mountains, Far-North Cameroon. Inappropriate agricultural techniques resulting in land use change affect soil functions and seriously harm forest ecosystems. This study was conducted to analyse the current character of soils and access their degradation and their level of fertility. Twenty soil samples were taken at 15 cm depth. This includes ten in the plot under forest reserve and ten others in the plot under cultivation. Cultivation is responsible for the increase in bulk density (BD) (1.59 to 2.23 g/cm3 ), Mg (4.76 to 6.40 cmol·kg-1 ), Ca (10.44 to 11.26 cmol·kg-1 ), P (7.93 to 9.93 g/kg), and Mg/K (2.28 to 5.84) and decrease in CEC (38 0.15 to 31.46 cmol·kg-1 ), OM (2.76 to 1.08%), OC (1.66 to 0.62%), total nitrogen (0.08 to 0.05%), K (4.59 to 1.15 cmol·kg-1 ), Na (1.32 to 0.91 cmol·kg-1 ), C/N (25.69 to 13.86), and Ca/Mg (2.32 to 1.89). This variability in physicochemical properties reflects progressive soil degradation. Cultivated soils are subject to severe degradation or potential vulnerability (SDR/Vp = 4/2) due to texture, organic carbon, soil aggregate stability, sealing index, and total nitrogen. On the other hand, soils under forest reserve are subject to severe degradation or vulnerability due to the total nitrogen and sodium absorption ratio. The soils of the study area are subject to severe and extreme potential degradation or vulnerability due to BD, respectively, under forest reserve and cultivation. Two classes of fertility were identified: class II (plots under forest reserve) having a good level of fertility, characterized by good physical properties and severe limitations in nitrogen and phosphorus and class IV (cultivated plots) with a low level of fertility due to severe limitations in organic matter, phosphorus, and poor physical characteristics. The best indicator of the good quality of the luvisols of Sir is the pH, while the bulk density is an indicator of severe to very extreme degradation or high to very high vulnerability. The application of organic and mineral amendments is essential for raising the organic matter and nitrogen and phosphorus contents in these soils.

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