Agricultural Research

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 187–199 | Cite as

Identifying Sensitive Soil Properties as a Function of Land Use Change in Thar Desert of India

  • Mahesh Kumar
  • Priyabrata Santra
  • S. K. Singh
  • P. Raina
  • Amal Kar
  • Balak Ram
  • P. C. Moharana
Full-Length Research Article


Soil plays a critical role in earth’s biosphere by supporting the production of food, fodder and fiber. However, rapid land use changes in recent times in different parts of the world led to increasing concern on soil health. It has been realized that changes in land use systems significantly affect soil properties. Therefore, we studied the impact of land use systems on soil physicochemical properties in the Thar Desert of India. Surface soil samples (0–30 cm) from four land use systems: (1) sand dunes, (2) grazing lands, (3) rainfed croplands and (4) irrigated croplands have been collected and analyzed in laboratory to determine soil pH, electrical conductivity (EC), CaCO3 content, organic carbon content, available P content, available K content and micronutrients (Zn, Fe, Mn, and Cu) content. We observed higher clay, organic carbon and nutrient contents and lower bulk density values in irrigated croplands than in other land use systems. Soil pH and EC were higher in irrigated croplands than in the other land use systems. Principal component analysis of soil physicochemical properties revealed two major soil factors, the clay–carbon factor and salinity factor, which were able to significantly differentiate the land use systems. For irrigated croplands, the clay–carbon factor was found to be higher than the rest of the land uses; however, the salinity factor was the lowest. Higher values of these two factors will lead to a favorable soil physicochemical environment for plant growth or better soil health. These two factors may further be used for assessing the impact of land use systems on soil quality in other regions.


Arid soils Land use systems Soil properties Organic carbon 



We express our sincere thanks to the Director, ICAR-Central Arid Zone Research Institute for providing necessary facilities and support during the course of the project.


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Copyright information

© NAAS (National Academy of Agricultural Sciences) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mahesh Kumar
    • 1
  • Priyabrata Santra
    • 1
  • S. K. Singh
    • 2
  • P. Raina
    • 1
  • Amal Kar
    • 1
  • Balak Ram
    • 1
  • P. C. Moharana
    • 1
  1. 1.ICAR-Central Arid Zone Research InstituteJodhpurIndia
  2. 2.ICAR-National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use PlanningNagpurIndia

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