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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  19 Dec 2019

19 Dec 2019

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A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal SOIL.

The soil fertility and leaf nutrient status in enset gardens in different altitude zones of the Gamo highlands, Ethiopia and inferences for Xanthomonas wilt prevalence

Sabura Shara1, Rony Swennen2,8,9, Jozef Deckers3, Fantahun Weldesenbet4, Laura Vercammen3, Fassil Eshetu5, Feleke Woldeyes6, Guy Blomme7, Roeland Merckx3, and Karen Vancampenhout3 Sabura Shara et al.
  • 1KU Leuven, Cluster Bioengineering Technology, Dept. of Microbial and Molecular Systems, Geel, Belgium
  • 2KU Leuven, Divisionof Crop Biotechnics, Dept. of Biosystems, Belgium
  • 3KU Leuven, Dept. of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Belgium
  • 4Ethiopian Biotechnology Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • 5Arba Minch University, College of Natural Sciences, Dept. of Biology, Arba Minch, Ethiopia
  • 6Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • 7Bioversity International, c/o ILRI, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • 8International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Arusha, Tanzania
  • 9Bioversity International,Leuven, Belgium

Abstract. Enset (Ensete ventricosum) is a productive, drought-tolerant and multipurpose food security crop grown in the densely populated Ethiopian highlands. Its production suffers from poor soil fertility management and a bacterial wilt disease caused by the pathogen Xanthomonas campestris pv. musacearum. The aim of this study was to assess soil-plant-nutrient variation within enset home gardens over three different altitudes (ranging from 2000–3000 masl) in the Chencha catchment of the Gamo highlands and investigate whether this variation affects disease prevalence. Plant available P, Ca and Mg significantly increase with decreasing elevation but significantly decline with distance from the house. In addition, soil pH, conductivity, total organic carbon (TOC), total N, available K, Mn and Fe levels significantly decline with distance from the house. This indicates that soil fertility factors are influenced by both agro-ecology and farmers' management practices. Moreover, most nutrients reach very high levels in the garden whereas the more distant outfields are severely nutrient deprived. Plant nutrient levels are not correlated to soil nutrient levels except for N. Twenty two percent of the studied farms are symptomatic for bacterial wilt and its prevalence increases with decreasing elevation. Symptomatic gardens have a higher soil pH and available P, K and Ca levels. We conclude that soil fertility management in enset gardens should be optimized in relation to agro-ecological conditions and that both elevation and soil nutrient status need to be considered when developing strategies to curb the current Xanthomonas wilt epidemic.

Sabura Shara et al.

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Sabura Shara et al.

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reconnaissance study on ecological niche of ensete ventricosum S. Shara, R. Swennen, J. Deckers, F. Weldesenbet, L. Vercammen, F. Eshetu, F. Woldeyes, G. Blomme, R. Merckx and K. Vancampenhout

Sabura Shara et al.


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Short summary
Nicknamed the tree against hunger, Enset (Ensete ventricosum) is an important multipurpose crop for the farming systems of the densely populated Gamo highlands in Ethiopia. Its high productivity and tolerance to droughts are major assets. Nevertheless, Enset production is severely threatened by a wilting disease. This observational study aims to assess soil and leaf nutrients in enset gardens at different altitudes, so see if fertility management can be linked to disease prevalence.
Nicknamed the tree against hunger, Enset (Ensete ventricosum) is an important multipurpose crop...