Publisher: University of Port Harcourt

is There Any Merit In The Traditional Farm Practice of Bush Burning? A Case of Bush Burning From A Tropical Wet and Dry Agro-Ecosystem In Rivers State, Nigeria

Ezekwe I. C., Ezeukwu, M .i.
KEYWORDS: Bush Burning, Indigenous Knowledge, Slash and Burn, Soil Quality, Traditional Farming


In observing traditional farming techniques in Africa, a typical question that comes to mind is; is there any merit in the traditional farm practices of indigenous people? To answer this question, samples of soil (0-30cm) were taken from Mgbueto in Emohua L.G.A Rivers State Nigeria before and after the farm were burnt and were subjected to laboratory analysis to ascertain the effect of the bush burning farming technique on soil physical properties and macro nutrients. Soil parameters such as clay content, silt, porosity, Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, (NPK), total organic carbon (TOC) were analyzed. A laboratory analysis was carried out and the result showed that there is no statistical significant difference between the pre-burn soil and the after burnt soil in terms of physical structure at the 0.05% confidence level. The result also showed that there is statistically significant difference between the soil nutrient (NPK) of the burnt farm and unburnt farm land at 0.05% confidence level. It was thus concluded that although fire have some adverse consequences on the soil and the environment and can diminish nutrient pool sizes, nutrient availability most often increases since fire chemically converts nutrients bound in dead plant tissues and the soil surface to more available forms or the fire indirectly increases mineralization rates through its impacts on soil microorganisms. The act of bush burning therefore with traditional tillage which is the main practice in this part of the world may be well adjusted to the tropics and may enhance essential nutrient availability. Therefore, more extended studies on fire duration and intensity and its effects on a varied number of nutrients are needed while outright condemnation of traditional farming methods without adequate ecosystem-specific proofs should be discouraged.

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