L. O. NETHONONDA1,2, J. J. O. ODHIAMBO1 and D. G. PATERSON3
1 Department of Soil Science, University of Venda, Private Bag X5050, Thohoyandou, 0950, South Africa
2 Madzivhandila College of Agriculture, Thohoyandou, 0950, South Africa
3 ARC- Institute for Soil Climate and Water,Pretoria, 001, South Africa
NETHONONDA, L. O., J. J. O. ODHIAMBO and D. G. PATERSON, 2014. Land suitability for specific crop ranges using dynamic land suitability Evaluation guidelines for small-scale communal irrigation schemes. Bulg. J. Agric. Sci., 20: 1349-1360
Small-scale communal irrigation schemes that are not top-down managed comprise an important agricultural activity in many deep rural areas of South Africa. Farmers in these irrigation schemes, rely on basic indigenous knowledge of soil, climate and empirical observations of crop performance to make crop production decisions. Such knowledge is not sufficient to make appropriate land use decisions on crop suitability. Land suitability evaluation systems and approaches used in South Africa are often geared to commercial skilled farmers with better knowledge and technological resources for crop production. Objective of the study was to assess land suitability for specific crop ranges at Rambuda irrigation scheme using dynamic land suitability guidelines for small-scale irrigation schemes. The first step in these guidelines is community engagement through consultations and ensuring community participation in land utilization choices. This is followed by detailed survey of biophysical resources and assessment by matching land utilization type requirements and tolerances against land characteristics or qualities of each mapping unit to generate suitability ratings. Results showed that majority of mapping units were well suited (WS) and suited (S) for majority of specific crop ranges and only mapping unit Ao was marginally suited (MS) for citrus because of crusting, prone to compaction, crusting and moderate drainage. Dynamic land suitability evaluation guidelines were successful for assessing land suitability for specific crop ranges at Rambuda irrigations and will have to be tested in other irrigation schemes under different socio-cultural and biophysical conditions.