{{menu_nowledge_desc}}.

CIFOR–ICRAF publishes over 750 publications every year on agroforestry, forests and climate change, landscape restoration, rights, forest policy and much more – in multiple languages.

CIFOR–ICRAF addresses local challenges and opportunities while providing solutions to global problems for forests, landscapes, people and the planet.

We deliver actionable evidence and solutions to transform how land is used and how food is produced: conserving and restoring ecosystems, responding to the global climate, malnutrition, biodiversity and desertification crises. In short, improving people’s lives.

Drivers of field-saturated soil hydraulic conductivity: Implications for restoring degraded tropical landscapes

Export citation

Water security represents a major challenge in East Africa, affecting the livelihoods of millions of people and hindering sustainable development. Predicted increases in rainfall intensity and variability are expected to exacerbate water insecurity and land degradation. Improving soil infiltrability is an effective strategy for addressing water insecurity and land degradation. Research on soil infiltrability is often highly localized; therefore, scientific understanding of the drivers of infiltrability on larger spatial scales is limited. The aim of this study was to understand the main drivers of infiltrability across five contrasting landscapes in Kenya. We measured field-saturated hydraulic conductivity (Kfs) in 257 plots and collected data for variables representing soil properties (sand content, soil organic carbon (SOC) and pH), land degradation (grazing pressure and presence of erosion), vegetation quantity (woody aboveground biomass), and vegetation quality (functional properties and diversity). We used generalized mixed-effects models to test for the effects of these variables on Kfs. Median Kfs for the five sites ranged between 23.8 and 101.8 mm h−1. We found that Kfs was positively associated with sand content (standardized effect 0.39), SOC content (0.15), and functional diversity of woody vegetation (0.09), while it had a negative relationship with the presence of erosion (−0.24) and grazing pressure (−0.09). Subsequently, we conclude that infiltrability can be enhanced through using land restoration strategies which specifically target parameters that affect Kfs. The results further support that Kfs is not solely dictated by inherent soil properties, and that management interventions which boost SOC, reduce erosion, and minimize unsustainable grazing can help address water scarcity by restoring soil hydrological function.

DOI:
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.168038
Altmetric score:
Dimensions Citation Count:

Related publications