30 materials and methods 31 study area the study will

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3.0 MATERIALS AND METHODS 3.1 Study area The study will be conducted in the University of Embu, Embu County, Kenya. Embu County is located on 23 o 39’5.429’’S 46 o 51’7.87’’W at an elevation of 1480m above sea level (a.s.l) (Jaetzold et al ., 2007). Rainfall distribution is bimodal with the long rains occurring between March and June and the short rains between October and December. The average annual rainfall is 1252 mm. The area has an annual mean temperature of 19.5 o C, a mean maximum of 25 o C and a mean minimum of 14.1 o C. The site lies in the transition Upper middle 2 (UM2) and Upper middle 3 agro ecological zones (AEZs) (Jaetzold et al ., 2007). The soils are mainly Humic nitisols derived from basic volcanic rocks. They are deep highly weathered with friable clay texture and moderate to high inherent fertility. Crops grown in UoEm include cabbages, banana, kales (Sukuma), coffee and onions. UoEm has high tree diversity composed of indigenous and exotic trees. 14
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Figure 1: Map of the study site 3.2 Research Design The study area will consist of grazed, cultivated and forested area. Soil samples will be collected in the three land use systems. Each land use system will be divided into three 2m by 2m plots arranged in a completely randomized design and replicated three times. Soil samples and measurements will be collected weekly from the different land use systems for two months. 3.3 Soil analysis 3.3.1 Soil bulk density Soil samples will be collected at a depth of 30 cm using a soil auger and they will be sent to UoEm laboratory for analysis. Bulk density (B D d ) will be estimated from undisturbed soil sample s collected from each land use system using core sampler. The mass of the soil will be weighed before drying in an oven at 105°C for about 18-24 hours. The oven dried soil will also be weighed . (Carter, 1990). 15
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The soil volume will be estimated by determining the ring volume. To calculate the volume of the ring, the height of the ring will be measured. The diameter of the ring will also be measured and the value will be halved to get the value of the radius. Ring volume (cm 3 ) = 3.14 x r 2 x ring height. The Bulk density will be calculated as: Bulk density = Oven dry soil weight / soil volume. 3.3.2 Soil pH The soil pH will be measured using digital PH meter. Using an auger, a hole will be put down into the soil, the holes will have the same depth to avoid discrepancies, some distilled water will be added to the hole and ensuring the soil is damp but not saturated with water, then the pH tester will be calibrated with a pH 7 and a pH 10 buffer solution, after that the cap will be removed. Finally , my testing the pH meter will be inserted into the hole and the reading will be allowed to develop . (Allison 1965). 3.3.3 Soil moisture content Soil moisture content will be measured using oven dry method of soil moisture removing, drying and weighing of a sample. The container will be cleaned, dried and weighed with the lid (wc) and with its lid removed. The soil sample (250cm 3 ) of soil sample will be put in the container and weighed with the lid (w1) before drying. The soil sample will then be weighed after drying.
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