Mwabvu, T. (2003). Use of Plant Litter by Small-Scale Farmers in Zimbabwe and the Potential of Soil Macrofauna in Litter Breakdown. UNISWA Research Journal of Agriculture, Science and Technology. 6 (2): 106-108.
Use of Plant Litter by Small-Scale Farmers in Zimbabwe and the Potential of Soil Macrofauna in Litter Breakdown
UNISWA Research Journal of Agriculture, Science and Technology
6 (2): 106-108
A survey of soil macrofauna to determine their diversity in natural woodland, wet-land gardens and upland maize
fields was conducted in villages in Murewa, Zimbabwe. Methods of sampling included soil monolith sampling and
searching in all the selected sites. In addition, a questionnaire seeking to establish the ,prevalence of the use of
indigenous plant litter in fields and the reasons for use was presented to the small-scale farmers. The diversity of
soil macro/auna was greater in the natural woodland than in the crop fields. Six taxa were identified in the
woodland compared to two in the maize field and wetland gardens. About 57 per cent of the farmers used plant
litter in their gardens in addition to inorganic fertilizers and animal manure believing that the litter improves soil
fertility, moisture retention and soil stnleture. It is unlikely that soil macrofauna significantly influence nutrienl
cycling and release in crop fields because of the few taxa and indiViduals, unlike in natural woodland where they
are abundant. The use of plant litter although prevalent may not be beneficial considering the labour used during
collection and time requiredfor the material to decompose and release nutrients for plant growth and development.