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Termite Mound Soil as a Soil Amendment in Eastern Uganda
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Food scarcity in Sub-Saharan Africa can be attributed in large part to the degradation of soils, due to factors such as soil nutrient and organic matter depletion. Regardless of how efficiently any other possible factors are handled, yield thresholds will continue to decline until soil fertility is addressed. The lack of affordable inorganic fertilizer is a large contributor to this problem. Therefore, the use of organic amendments such as manures and composts are commonly recommended as an alternative to farmers in rural communities. However, the availability and affordability of these amendments is frequently limited, leaving few remaining alternatives to the ongoing degradation of soil productivity. The purpose of this study is to determine the effectiveness of applying Macrotermes soil as an organic amendment to initiate a soil restoration process that is more financially accessible. These termites build their structures out of subsurface clay particles, which have been reported to contain significantly higher concentrations of plant-available nutrients than the surrounding topsoil. These mounds are a public resource, meaning that anyone who lives near a mound will have access to the material. Mounds are treated as a nuisance by many people, who dispose of the mound soil away from their fields, thereby wasting any potential benefit. This study will be conducted in Kyando, Uganda, over one growing season. The effects of both living and dead termite mound soil on maize (Zea mays) yield and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi association with corn roots will be compared to maize treated with cattle manure and maize receiving no amendment. A chemical analysis will also be performed on a survey of Macrotermes mounds in the area. These results are expected to support the development of an improved management strategy that can assist disadvantaged farmers in East Africa in the restoration of their soil fertility, increase yields, and taking a first step towards alleviating food insecurity.
Pace, Kimberlyn Michelle (2019). Termite Mound Soil as a Soil Amendment in Eastern Uganda. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from