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THE MECHANICAL COMPOSITION, TEXTURE, SPECIFIC SURFACE AREA AND THEIR AGRONOMIC IMPLICATIONS FOR PROFILES OF SOILS DEVELOPED FROM SANDSTONES IN CROSS RIVER STATE, NIGERIA
Dr. Michael Otu Eyong* and Okon P. B.
The mechanical composition of soils, referred to as particle size distribution, used to determine the proportion of different sized particles in a soil, hence the textural class, was evaluated for soils of Ekureku in central Cross River State. Three profile pits were sunk on three landscape elements of crest, middleslope and valley bottom along a well defined and identified toposequence. The mean surface soil content of sand, silt and clay for the profiles were 69.0%, 26.0% and 5.0% while the mean subsoil content of same particles were 61.0 % (sand), 23.0 %(silt) and 16.05(clay) respectively. It was observed that sand was the dominant particle size fraction reflecting the sandstones from which the soils were derived. The textures of the crest, middleslope and valley bottom were loamy sands for crest and loams for middleslope and valley bottom. The loamy sands are coarse textured, very light and therefore subject to shearing, detachment and transportation, therefore prone to erosion and leaching. They are therefore very poor dry soils with low water holding capacity. The loams are medium textured, fairly retentive of moisture, good drainage, fertile and productive and good for irrigation. The soils on the crest are therefore poorly endowed but with good management are suited for arable crops like groundnuts, cocoyam, and plantation crops like cashew, oil palm, sugar cane, sod development and golf courses. The loams are prime agricultural land and good for many arable crops. Since the ability to change texture to suit desired crops is limited, land use should be adjusted to fit existing physical conditions. Therefore the best management option is to use adapted crops.[Full Text Article]