Soil carbon and plant diversity distribution at the farm level in the savannah region of Northern Togo (West Africa)
MetadataShow full item record
In western Africa, soil organic matter is a source of fertility for food provision and a tool for climate mitigation. In the Savannah region, strong soil degradation linked to an increase in population threatens organic matter conservation and agricultural yield. Soil degradation is also expected to
impact biodiversity and, with it, increase the vulnerability of ecosystem goods and services, including the storage of soil organic carbon. Studies of land use, plant species composition and soil fertility were conducted for a conservation project at a demonstration farm in Northern Togo (West Africa), host to various management regimes. Results showed a low organic matter content of the surface soil horizons, often around 0.5%. The highest values were found in a sacred forest within the farm (2.2%). Among crops, rice had the highest soil organic matter, around 1%. In a survey of grasslands, pastures showed the highest organic matter content, with vegetation composition differing from grazed fallows and abandoned grasslands. Plant species richness showed a positive relationship with soil organic matter (R2adj=41.2%), but only by the end of the wet season, when species richness was also highest. Sampling date had a strong effect on vegetation composition. Results showed a strong influence of human activity on soil formation and distribution, and also on plant diversity. The soil characteristics found under the permanent forest suggest a high potential of the soils of the region for improvement of both agricultural yields and as a potential carbon sink relevant to global change policies.