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Research Article
Soil Enzymes Activities in Irrigated and Rain-Fed Vertisols of the Semi-Arid Tropics of Sudan

Mubarak A. Abdalla and Uwe Langer

International Journal of Soil Science, 2009, 4(3), 67-79.


Soil management practices that involve intensive traditional ploughing and disking may affect soil quality. Soil enzymes activities were investigated from crop rotations in irrigated and rain-fed areas. Soil samples collected from long term (79 years), medium-term (46 years) and short-term (22 years) irrigated cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) schemes and rainfed cultivation of sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) and sesame (Sesamum indicum) in a semi-arid tropical Vertisol. Alkaline phosphatase was significantly higher in both short-term (661 μg p-nitrophenol g-1 soil h-1) and rain-fed cultivation (605-747 μg p-nitrophenol g-1 soil h-1). Long- and medium-term cultivation in the irrigated sector had significantly less protease activity [3.75-4.73 μg tyrosine g-1 soil (2 h-1)] compared to other cultivation systems [11.54-15.09 μg tyrosine g-1 soil (2 h-1)]. Except, long-term cultivation, there was a general separation in the activity of β-glucosidase between irrigated [average of 21.9 μg saligenin g-1 soil (3 h)-1] and rainfed Vertisols [17.9 μg saligenin g-1 soil (3 h)-1]. Correlation analysis and Principal Component Analysis (PCA) revealed that only alkaline phosphatase activity was positively correlated with total soil N and carbon contents. These results may draw attention on the impact of intensive application of agro-chemicals (pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers) on soil health in the world biggest Gezira cotton scheme.

ASCI-ID: 42-101

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