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Effects of charcoal production on soil physical properties in Ghana

TitleEffects of charcoal production on soil physical properties in Ghana
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsOguntunde, P. G., Abiodun B. J., Ajayi A. E., and van de Giesen N.
JournalJournal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science

Charcoal production, widespread in Ghana like in other W African countries, is a major driver of land-cover change. Effects of charcoal production on soil physical, including hydrological, properties, were studied in the forest-savannah transition zone of Ghana. Core and composite samples from 12 randomly selected sites across the width of Kotokosu watershed were taken from 0-10 cm layer at charcoal-site soils and adjacent field soils (control). These were used to determine saturated hydraulic conductivity (K-sat), bulk density, total porosity, soil texture, and color. Infiltration rates, surface albedo, and soil-surface temperature were also measured on both sites. The results showed that the saturated hydraulic conductivity of soils under charcoal kilns increased significantly (p < 0.01) from 6.1 +/- 2.0 cm h(-1) to 11.4 +/- 5.0 cm h(-1), resulting to a relative increase of 88%. Soil color became darkened under charcoal kilns with hue, value, and chroma decreasing by 8%, 20%, and 20%, respectively. Bulk density on charcoal-site soils reduced by 9% compared to adjacent field soils. Total porosity increased from 45.7% on adjacent field soils to 50.6% on earth kilns. Surface albedo reduced by 37% on charcoal-site soils while soil-surface temperature increased up to 4 degrees C on average. Higher infiltration rates were measured on charcoal-site soils, which suggest a possible decrease in overland flow and less erosion on those kiln sites.