Pholosho M. Kgopa


2 Essential Elements and Trace Metals on a Continuously Cultivated and Fertilised Field

Authors: Phatu W. Mashela, Pholosho M. Kgopa


Due to high incidents of marginal land in Limpopo Province, South Africa, and increasing demand for arable land, small-holder farmers tend to continuously cultivate the same fields and at the same time, applying fertilisers to improve yields for meeting local food security. These practices might have an impact on the distribution of trace and essential elements. Therefore, the objective of this investigation was to assess the distribution of essential elements and trace metals in a continuously cultivated and fertilised field, at the University of Limpopo Experimental Farm. Three fields, 3 ha each were identified as continuously cultivated (CC), moderately cultivated (MC) and virgin fields (VF). Each field was divided into 12 equal grids of 50 m × 50 m for sampling. A soil profile was opened in each grid, where soil samples were collected from 0-20; 20-40 and 40-60; 60-80 and 80-100 cm depths for analysis. Samples were analysed for soil texture, pH, electrical conductivity, organic matter content, selected essential elements (Ca, P and Mg), Na and trace elements (Cu, Fe, Ni, and Zn). Results suggested that most of the variables were vertically different, with high concentrations of the test elements except for magnesium. Soil pH in depth 0-20 cm was high (6.44) in CC when compared to that in VF (5.29), but lower than that of MC (7.84). There were no distinctive vertical trends of the variables, except for Mg, Na, and K which displayed a declining trend at 40-60 cm depth when compared to the 0-20 cm depth. Concentrations of Fe, Cu, Zn, and Ni were generally low which might be due to their indirect relationship with soil pH. Continuous cultivation and fertilisation altered soil chemical properties; which could explain the unproductivity of such fields.

Keywords: Soil Chemical Properties, Spatial Distribution, vertical distribution, over-cultivation

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1 Temporal Effects on Chemical Composition of Treated Wastewater and Borehole Water Used for Irrigation in Limpopo Province, South Africa

Authors: Phatu W. Mashela, Pholosho M. Kgopa, Alen Manyevere


Increasing incidents of drought spells in most Sub-Saharan Africa call for using alternative sources of water for irrigation in arid and semi-arid regions. A study was conducted to investigate chemical composition of borehole and treated wastewater from different sampling disposal sites at University of Limpopo Experimental Farm (ULEF). A 4 × 5 factorial experiment, with the borehole as a reference sampling site and three other sampling sites along the wastewater disposal system was conducted over five months. Water samples were collected at four sites namely, (a) exit from Pond 16 into the furrow, (b) entry into night-dam, (c) exit from night dam to irrigated fields and (d) exit from borehole to irrigated fields. Water samples were collected in the middle of each month, starting from July to November 2016. Samples were analysed for pH, EC, Ca, Mg, Na, K, Al, B, Zn, Cu, Cr, Pb, Cd and As. The site × time interactions were highly significant for Ca, Mg, Zn, Cu, Cr, Pb, Cd, and As variables, but not for Na and K. Sampling site was highly significant on all variables, with sampling period not significant for K and Na. Relative to water from the borehole, Na concentration in wastewater samples from the night-dam exit, night-dam entry and Pond16 exit were lower by 69, 34 and 55%, respectively. Relative to borehole water, Al was higher in wastewater sampling sites. In conclusion, both sampling site and period affected the chemical composition of treated wastewater.

Keywords: Water scarcity, Water reuse, spatial effects, irrigation water quality, temporal effects

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