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Soil Types in Kenya


Date Posted: 1/18/2014 12:13:17 AM

Posted By: marto  Membership Level: Gold  Total Points: 2900

There are five main types of soil in Kenya:

1. Loamy Soils

Loam soil is primarily a mixture of clay and sand soil. In Kenya, loamy soil is majorly found in Western Kenya and parts of the Rift Valley.

Characteristics of loam soils:
i) Usually very fertile.
ii) Well drained.
iii) Moderate moisture retention capabilities.
iv) High level of nutrients.
v) Varied particle size.

2. Alluvial Soils

Alluvial soils are also referred to as young soils. In Kenya, alluvial soils are in most cases found deposited in the valleys and mouths of large water sources e.g rivers such as Ewaso Nyiro, Sondu, Tana among others.
In Kenya, these soils are common in the southern parts of the Rift Valley.
They are formed from volcanic lava and ash.

Characteristics of alluvial soils:
i) Highly fertile.
ii) May be highly magnetic as a result of the contaminants and heavy metals from water sources which create alluvial soils.
iii) Contain some portions of lime, potassium and phosphorus.

Volcanic Soils

Volcanic soils are also commonly referred to as red earth soils. They are commonly found in highland areas which have previously been affected by volcanic activities.
In Kenya, these soils are in East and West of the Rift Valley.
This soils are ideal for growing coffee, tea and pyrethrum.

Characteristics of volcanic soils:
i) They are well drained.
ii) Rich in nutrients.
iii) High amounts of volcanic glass material.
iv) High water retention capacity.
v) Light and easily tilled.
vi) Not highly weathered.

Black Cotton Soils

Black cotton soils are also referred to as clay soils.
In Kenya, they are commonly found in Mwea, Athi, Kapiti, Kano and Trans Mara.

Characteristics of black cotton soils:
i) Poorly drained.
ii) Become easily waterlogged when it rains.
iii) Crack when dry.
iv) Very sticky when wet.
v) Very small particles with tiny pore spaces.
vi) High water retention capability.
vii) Poorly aerated.

Sandy soils

In Kenya, sandy soils are commonly found in arid and semi-arid areas of northern and north-eastern Kenya, the coastal regions and

some river valleys.
These soils support scanty vegetation and have very little humus.

Characteristics of sandy soils:

i) Very light and prone to water and wind erosion.
ii) Has large particles.
iii) Loses water quickly.
iv) Highly saline.
v) Highly acidic
vi) Large air spaces
vii) Low in nutrients

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