Spatial Distribution of Soil Hydrological Properties in the Kilombero Floodplain, Tanzania

Stephen Daniel (Corresponding Author), Geofrey Gabiri, Fridah Kirimi, Björn Glasner, Kristian Näschen, Constanze Leemhuis, Stefanie Steinbach, Kelvin Mtei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Analysis and interpretation of soil properties dynamics is a keystone in understanding the hydrologic responses and yield potential of floodplain wetlands. This study characterizes the distribution and spatial trends of selected soil physical properties in the Kilombero floodplain, Tanzania. A total of 76 composite soil samples were taken from 0 to 20 cm and 20 to 40 cm depth in a regular grid design across three hydrological zones, related to flooding intensity defined as fringe, middle, and riparian during the rainy season of 2015. The samples were analyzed for soil texture, bulk density, organic carbon, and saturated hydraulic conductivity. Seasonal soil moisture content was monitored at depths of 10, 20, 30, and 40 cm, using 17 frequency domain reflectometry profile probes type PR2, installed at each hydrological zone for 18 months (March 2015–August 2016). Data were subjected to classical statistical and geostatistical analyses. Results showed significant (p < 0.05) differences in bulk density, texture, soil organic carbon (SOC), and saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ksat) across the hydrological zones. Bulk density showed a clear increasing trend towards the fringe zone. Mean Ksat was highest at the riparian zone (69.15 cm·d−1), and clay was higher in the riparian (20.3%) and middle (28.7%) zones, whereas fringe had the highest percentage of sand (33.7–35.9%). Geostatistical spatial results indicated that bulk density, silt, and SOC at 0–20 cm had intermediate dependence, whereas other soil properties at both depths had high spatial dependence. Soil moisture content showed a significant (p < 0.05) difference across the hydrological zones. The riparian zone retained the highest soil moisture content compared to the middle and fringe zone. The temporal soil moisture pattern corresponded to rainfall seasonality and at the riparian zone, soil moisture exhibited a convex shape of sloping curve, whereas a concave sloping curve for topsoil and for the middle zone at the subsoil was observed during the start of the dry season. Our results are seen to contribute to a better understanding of the spatial distribution of soil properties and as a reference for soil and water management planning in the floodplain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Issue number57
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • soil properties
  • hydrological zones
  • wetland
  • soil moisture
  • geostatistics


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