The Physico-chemical Properties of Four Soil Series in Tasik Chini, Pahang, Malaysia
Muhammad Barzani Gasim,
Sahibin Abd. Rahim
Mohd. Ekhwan Toriman
A total of 20 topsoil (0-20 cm) and 36 subsoil (0-50 cm) samples were collected from four soil series namely the Malacca, Rasau, Bungor and Gong Chenak. The Physico-chemical properties such as particle size distribution, texture, Organic Matter content (OM), density, porosity, pH, Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC), Electrical Conductivity (EC), available nutrients and the presence of selected heavy metals were analyzed by the standard methods. The analysis showed that the subsoil and topsoil of the Rasau soil series consisted mainly of sandy loam, whereas the Bungor, Malacca and Gong Chenak soil series were mainly of clayey texture. The organic matter content of the Rasau soil series was very low; for the Malacca and Bungor series the organic matter content was low. The Gong Chenak soil series contained comparatively high OM content. Soil physical properties showed higher bulk density values in the disturbed soil horizons than in the undisturbed forest soils. All the soils studied had low pH and low electrical conductivity. The cation exchange capacity of all the soil series was low with values of less than 13.34 meq/100 g soil. The available phosphorus (P) and magnesium (Mg) values of all the soil series were low and very low, while available potassium (K) values were acceptable. Result of heavy metals analysis indicated that some heavy metals such as Pb, Zn, Cu, Co, Ni, Cr and Cd were present in all the soil series but occurred in low concentrations below the critical level.
Received: September 03, 2010;
Accepted: December 23, 2010;
Published: July 29, 2011
Soils are the essential components of the environment and foundation resources
for nearly all types of land use, besides being the most important component
of sustainable agriculture (Bech et al., 2008).
Therefore, assessment of soil quality, and its direction of change with time
is an ideal and primary indicator of sustainable agricultural land management
(Doran, 2002). Soil quality indicators refer to measurable
soil attributes that influence the capacity of a soil to function, within the
limits imposed by the ecosystem, to preserve biological productivity and environmental
quality, and promote plant, animal and human health (Arshad
and Martin, 2002). These attributes could be physical, chemical and/or biological
properties of the soil (Arshad and Martin, 2002; Doran,
|| Soil map of the tasik chini catchment area
Soils are dramatically altered by human activities in agriculture and urban
environments, and these alterations distinguish these soils from those in other
systems and within urban environments (Scharenbroch et
al., 2005). Research has enabled assessment of the unique physical,
biological and chemical properties of soils.
The Tasik Chini catchment consists of various land forms comprising of thirty
one soil series, only four major soil series have been selected in this study
(Fig. 1). The four series are the Malacca, Bungor, Rasau and
Gong Chenak. The land area around Tasik Chini has been developed for agriculture,
settlements and tourism. Developmental activities have significantly affected
the ecological, biological and hydrological functions of the lake system. These
activities also include logging, which is interrelated with the erosion and
sedimentation of solids into the Tasik Chinis water body and this could
eventually decrease the lake depth in the long-term. The Malacca soil series
is lateritic in nature, brown to reddish brown in colour and is distributed
around the Chini Resort. Laterization usually occurs when silicates are washed
out, but the remaining sesquioxides of aluminium and iron accumulate and impart
a deep red colour to the soil (Brady, 1990). The Rasau
soil series is a weakly weathered soil, whitish in colour; the Bungor soil series
is a moderately weathered soil, yellowish in colour. The Gong Chenak soil series
is found nearer Lubok Itek and is formed from recent alluvium. It has also been
identified around the Tasik Chini. These four major soil series are scattered
within the lake (Fig. 1). Elaborate studies and clear knowledge
on the soil types around the Tasik Chini including the soil characteristics
are important in order to predict their potential physical and chemical impact
on the well being of the lake water. The objective of this study is to quantify
the physical and chemical characteristics of soils in the Tasik Chini Catchment.
Tasik Chini is located in the southeast region of the state of Pahang in Malaysia.
It is approximately 100 km from Kuantan, the capital of Pahang. The lake system
lies between 3°22' 30'' to 3°28' 00'' N and 102° 52' 40'' to 102°
58' 10''E and comprises 12 open water bodies called laut by the
local people and linked to the Pahang River by the Chini River. A few communities
of the indigenous Jakun tribe live around the lake. Tasik Chini is the second
largest natural fresh-water lake in Malaysia and is made up of 202 hectares
of open water and 700 ha of Riparian, Peat, Mountain and Lowland Dipterocarp
forest (Wetlands International Asia-Pacific 1998). Tasik
Chini is surrounded by diversely vegetated low hills and undulating land which
constitute the watershed of the region. There are three hilly areas surrounding
the lake namely Bt. Ketaya (209 m) located southeast, Bt. Tebakang (210 m) at
the north and Bt. Chini (641 m) southwest. The Tasik Chini Catchment is representative
of the upstream site of the Pahang River in the town of Pekan. The area has
a humid tropical climate with two monsoon periods, characterized by the following
bimodal pattern: southwest and northeast monsoons that bring an annual rainfall
which varies from 1488 to 3071 mm. The mean annual rainfall is 2,500 mm and
the temperature ranges from 21 to 32°C. The potential evapotranspiration
(PE) is between 500 to 1000 mm.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Soil sampling: Soil sampling was derived from selected soil series,
which located around the Tasik Chini area (Fig. 1). Soil sampling
was carried under five days field trip on December 2006. Topsoil (0-20 cm) was
collected randomly with a Dutch auger. Approximately 500 g samples were collected
from each sampling station. The soil profile at every sampling location was
dug (0-50 cm) and complete profile descriptions were recorded. Soil samples
were also taken from every identifiable horizon within the profile for laboratory
analysis. Soil profile description and soil sampling were done in accordance
with the procedures of the Soil Survey Manual (Soil Survey
Division Staff, 1993). Soil samples were put in tight plastic bags and transported
to the laboratory. In the laboratory the samples were air dried, broken into
smaller size particles with a wooden mortar and pestle and sieved through a
2 mm sieve. Five replicates of each soil sample taken from the profile and topsoil
Soil analysis: The air dried and sieved soil samples were used for determination
of the physico-chemical characteristics which include soil particle size distribution,
density, organic matter content, exchangeable acid cations (Al and H), exchangeable
basic cations (Ca, Mg, K and Na), cation exchange capacity (CEC), soil pH, electrical
conductivity, available nutrients and for some selected heavy metals (i.e. Pb,
Zn, Cu, Co, Ni, Cr and Cd) in the soil. Particle size distribution was determined
by the pipette method together with dry sieving (Abdulla,
1966). Texture of the soils was obtained by plotting the percentage ratio
of sand, silt and clay using the textural triangle (Soil Survey
Staff, 1998). Soil bulk density was obtained using the open ended metal
cylinder (Ring) method (Rowell, 1996) and true density
was calculated using the equation derived by Adams (1973).
Porosity was calculated using the true and bulk densities. Organic matter content
was obtained by loss on ignition. The pH of the soil was determined by the soil:
water ratio of 1:2.5 (Metson, 1956). The exchangeable
acid cations (Al and H) were obtained by titration with 1.0 M KCl extract. The
exchangeable basic cations were extracted with 1.0 M ammonium acetate solution
(Thomas, 1982) and determined using the Flame Atomic Absorption
Spectrophotometry (FAAS) (Perkin Elmer 3300). The cation exchange capacity was
determined by summation of the acid and basic cations. Available P, K and Mg
were extracted by ammonium acetate-acetic acid extractant and, K and Mg were
determined using Flame Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometry (FAAS) (Thomas,
982). Available P was determined using the Ultra Violate Spectrophotometry
(Helios Gamma 9423 UVG 1702E). The content of total heavy metals in soils were
determined by acid digestion with a mixture of HNO3-HF-HClO4
(Chen, 2005), carried out by FAAS for Zn, Ni, Co and Cr
and Graphite Furnace Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometry (GFAAS) (Perkin Elmer,
Analyst 800) for Cd, Pb and Cu.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Soil profile: The Malacca soil series contains two horizons respectively
the A and B of depth 0-6 and >6 cm; the A horizon is strongly brown in colour
(7.5YR5/6) whereas the B horizon is yellowish red (5YR5/6). The boundary between
the A and B horizons is sharp. In soil description by Paramananthan
(2000), the A horizon is noted as Ap whereas the B horizon is noted as Bo1
which stands for the occurrence of the oxic horizon. The soil is clayey in texture,
has a weak medium and a fine sub-angular blocky structure. It is very friable
and contains fine sub-rounded petroplinthite. The parent material of this soil
is shale. Most of the Malacca series soils were planted with tree crops mainly
rubber and oil palm. Certain portions of this soil were found under primary
The Rasau soil series consist of soils that have a weakly developed profile. They contain four horizons respectively the A, AB, BA and B at depths of 0-8, 8-20, 20-30 and >30 cm. They are whitish (10YR8/1) in colour and sandy loam in texture. The dominant whitish colour in this soil comes from its whitish sandy parent material, intensified further by leaching processes. The Rasau series is well drained and the parent material is alluvial deposits. Some of the area under this soil had been used for shifting cultivation and oil palm plantations. A small area was found under primary forest vegetation.
The Bungor soil series has two horizons, the A and BA at depths of 0-25 and
>25 cm. The A horizon is dark grayish-brown in colour (10YR4/2) whereas the
BA horizon is brownish yellow (10YR6/6) to yellowish in colour. The soil has
clay texture, a weak medium and a fine subangular blocky structure. The parent
material of the soil is mixed sandstone/shale. The profile of the soil is formed
from the weathering of low-grade metamorphic rocks with ambiguous horizon divisions.
In Paramananthan (2000), the soil profile extended to
a depth of 300 cm. The current study only describes the top two horizons which
are easily distinguishable in the field.
The Gong Chenak soil series contain four horizons, the A, AB, BA and B of depth 0-6, 6-13, 13-30 and >30 cm. The soil profile at the lake margin was formed by a mixture of hill soil of the Malacca series covered by lake sediment. The soil profile appearance represents the Malacca series at the lower profile and the lake sediment on the upper region. The Malacca series gives it a reddish (5YR4/4) colour and the lake sediment gives a grayish (10YR4/2) colour to the topsoil. This soil series was formed from recent alluvium. This soil was under primary forest and lowland dipterocarp forest vegetation.
Soil texture: The low silt content is a very noticeable feature of the
Malacca and Bungor soil series. The Rasau and Gong Chenak soil series have higher
silt content. The surface layers have comparatively lower silt content except
for the Rasau series (Table 1). The Rasau soil has dominant
sandy texture with sand content of more than 54%. The soil is sandy loam. All
the other soils series studied are predominantly of clayey texture.
|| Properties, size distribution and texture of the four soil
For the Malacca soil series there is a decrease in sand content with depth
whereas in the Gong Chenak soil series there is an increase in sand content
with depth. The decrease and increase in sand content in the Malacca and Gong
Chenak soil series is compensated by increase and decrease in silt content,
The clay content in the respective soil profiles do not differ. The range of clay content in the Malacca, Rasau, Bungor and Gong Chenak soil series is as follows: 66-67, 13-16, 81-84 and 61-66, respectively. In the Gong Chenak soil series the clay content is in the lower horizons (BA, B) and is low because of the different parent material of the horizons. The surface layer in all of the soil series showed records of slightly lower clay content.
Physical properties of the soils studied: All the soil series studied
contained low amounts of organic matter (OM) ranging from 1.10 to 7.40%, with
an average of 3.90%. The distribution of OM was found to decrease with depth.
In contrast, the OM content was the lowest in the sandy soils, such as the Rasau
soil. Similar results have also been reported by Yaacob
et al. (1979) where OM in sandy soils ranged from 0.40 to 1.56%. Due
to intensive weathering and erosion in Malaysia, all the soil series studied
contained less than 10% organic matter in the soil. According to the classification
of Acres et al. (1975), OM in the studied soils
was categorized in the low to medium class (OM< 10%). The bulk density values
of the four soil series ranged from 1.06 to 1.33 g cm-3 with a mean
value of 1.18 g cm-3. Due to the sandy loam texture and low organic
matter content in the Rasau series, the bulk density value was the highest (1.33
g cm-3). This value is close to that reported by Peh
(1978). The true density values of the four soil series ranged from 2.56
to 2.74 g cm-3 with an average value of 2.65 g cm-3. Porosity
values ranged from 51.40 to 58.75% (Table 2) with an average
value of 55.44%. Porosity of the surface layer was slightly higher than that
of the subsoil. The Bungor soil series was formed under forest vegetation, and
had the highest values for porosity. The Malacca soil series was disturbed soil
and had the lowest porosity. The Malacca series was distributed throughout the
oil palm plantation area. Porosity of the surface soil was slightly higher than
that of the subsoil. Higher porosity values in undisturbed soil have been reported
by Pagliai et al. (1983) and Pagliai
|| Physical properties of the four soil series studied
Chemical properties of the four soil series studied: The uniformity
of pH values and the narrow range recorded are unique features of Malaysian
soils. The pH values ranged from 3.02 to 3.81. Most of the pH values were below
3.47 and are considered low in the classification by Acres
et al. (1975). The value is normal for forest soils where the weathering
and leaching processes occur continuously in addition to the decomposition of
organic matter effect. Most profiles showed a slight increase in the pH values
down the profile, with the exception of the Bungor and Gong Chenak soil series.
The value of electrical conductivity was below 2.55 mS cm-1, which
is also classified as low.
The value of the Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) of the subsoil of the Malacca,
Rasau, Bungor and Gong Chenak series ranged from 1.96 to 2.06 meq/100g, 2.54
to 3.37 meq/100g, 1.08 to 2.23 meq/100 g and 5.79 to 13.34 meq/100 g, respectively.
The values of the CEC of all the top soils were comparatively higher than those
lower in the soil profiles. This can be attributed to higher organic matter
content in the top soil. The CEC of the Gong Chenak soil series was the highest
(11.26 meq 100 g) and that of the Malacca series the lowest (1.96 meq/100 g)
(Table 3). There was a decreasing distribution pattern from
the top to the bottom of the soil profile. The basic cations were very low,
meaning that the exchange base at the soil surface was dominated by acidic cations
of Al and H. Similar results were also reported by Razi
et al. (2005). The overall values of the CEC in the top soil and
soil profiles were very low; however they were within the values of the respective
soil series as described by Paramananthan (2000). The
range of the CEC values of all the soil series studied were considered low in
the classification by Acres et al. (1975).
Available nutrients in the soil profiles and topsoil: The amount of
available phosphorus in the Malacca, Rasau, Bungor and Gong Chenak soil series
ranged from 3.70 μg to 6.96 μg g, 4.66 to 7.96 μg g-1,
3.92 to 7.00 μg g-1 and 6.04 to 9.88 μg g-1,
respectively (Table 4). All the soil series had slightly higher
P content in the surface layer. These values are considered low compared to
the range (3-10 μg g-1) of soil P reported by the Department
of Agriculture (DOA 1997).
||Chemical properties of the four soil series studied
||Available nutrients in the soil profile and topsoil of the
Zahara and Sharifuddin (1979) mentioned that Malaysian
soils require the addition of a large amount of phosphorus because of the presence
of large amounts of clay and amorphous materials. All soil series had slightly
higher value of P in the surface layer and decreased with depth (Table
4). The value of available K in the Malacca, Rasau, Bungor and Gong Chenak
soil series ranged from 18.16 to 48.94 μg g-1, 21.05 to 56.20
μg g-1, 10.63 to 51.88 μg g-1 and 20.35 to 70.08
μg g-1, respectively. All the soils had slightly higher K values
in the surface layer and this amount decreased with depth. According to Landon
(1991), the classification of K content was high (>10.63 μg g-1)
and also considered as satisfactory.
|| Heavy metal content of the four studied soils
The variation of K in soil might be due to supply of nutrients, soil properties,
plants population and moisture availability. The range of magnesium values for
the Malacca, Rasau, Bungor and Gong Chenak soil series were 11.18 to 32.43 μg
g-1, 3.49 to 29.68 μg g-1, 3.45 to 35.76 μg
g-1 and 12.28 to 47.13 μg g-1, respectively. Available
phosphorus and magnesium were considered low and very low respectively when
compared with available potassium (Landon, 1991). Similar
results were reported by Sahibin et al. (2002)
for soil in a fruit orchard in Cameron Highlands, Pahang, Malaysia. Choudhury
and Khanif (2003) found that Mg contents in Malaysian soils were below the
critical deficiency level of 0.40 meq/100 g.
Heavy metal content in the topsoil and subsoil: Heavy metal content
in the topsoil and subsoil of the four soil series is shown in Table
5. The heavy metals present in the soil included Pb, Zn, Cu, Co, Ni, Cr
and Cd. In general heavy metal content in the subsoil and topsoil of the Malacca
and Bungor soil series were higher than that of the Rasau and Gong Chenak. The
heavy metal content of Zn, Co, Ni and Cr in the topsoil of the Malacca series
was higher than that of the other soil series. The Bungor soil series had higher
amounts of Pb, Cu and Cd in the subsoil than in the topsoil. In the Malacca
soil series, the content of Pb, Zn, Cu, Co, Ni and Cr seemed to increase with
depth. The Rasau soil series had the lowest content of heavy metals. When the
content of heavy metals in the topsoil or subsoil (all the soil profiles) is
below the threshold limit, their concentration is considered as potentially
non-toxic (Kabata-Pendias and Pendias, 2001). The results
also showed that anthropogenic areas (oil palm, rubber plantation and cultivated
area) in the Tasik Chini Catchment contained higher concentrations of heavy
metals than those of the forested or uncultivated soils. The Malacca and Bangur
soil series were located in the disturbed area. Due to anthropogenic influences,
these soil series contained higher concentrations of heavy metals in the topsoil
and lower horizons compared to that other soil series. This was probably due
to the use of agricultural fertilizers and pesticides, organic compounds (e.g.,
manures and composts), soil amendments (e.g., lime and gypsum) and in waste
materials recycled to soil.
The soils in the study area were weathered and leached, had acidic pH, low cation exchange capacity and low exchangeable bases. The soils contained low organic matter content and were highly porous. The available nutrient content was very low. The CEC of all the studied soils were very low. The available P and Mg content in the study area were low and very low. Evidence collected from the soil analysis suggests that all the studied soils are infertile. The study also indicated that supply of organic matter to the soils and plantations is important in order to increase both the soil OM and the cation exchange capacity. The capacity of soils to be productive depends not only on the plant nutrient stores but also on the physical characteristics of the soils such as bulk density and porosity. Results of the analysis indicate that high concentration of heavy metals in the soil of the study area was originated mainly from the anthropogenic activities. This study also highlights the necessity of immediate control measurement for the quality of soil and the exceptionally severe heavy metal pollution in the study area to minimize the rate of contamination and extent of future pollution problems.
This study was conducted and supported by the UKM-GUP-ASPL-07-05-141 and UKM-AP-PI-18-2009/3.
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