keywords: Ecosystems, forest, soil quality, surface soil, physicochemical properties
Evaluating the quality of soils is paramount for the maintenance of optimum growth conditions needed by plants. A field study was conducted to evaluate the physicochemical properties of the forest surface soils of Kogi State with the aim of establishing the fertility status of the forest. Forty surface soil samples were collected with soil auger at the depth of 0–20 cm from the study area. Standard analytical methods were employed to determine the physicochemical properties. The results showed that sand, silt and clay contents ranged from 51.80 to 94.00%, 3.50 to 31.00% and 2.00 to 22.60%, respectively. Texturally, the soils are mainly sandy loam and loamy sand textured with sand dominating the particle fractions of the soil. Soils were moderately acidic with mean pH value 5.52 ranged from 4.46 - 6.84. Electrical conductivity mean value was 0.237 dSm-1 which ranged from 0.036 to 0.574 dSm-1 indicating non-saline nature of the soils, suitable for plants growth and soil microbial processes. The soils were non- calcareous in nature and having mean CaCO3 content of 1.03% (ranged from 0.08 to 2.00%). The mean of soil organic matter was 8.85 % (ranged from 3.19 to 13.35%) indicating high. Similarly, the mean cation exchange capacity was 15.02 cmolckg-1 (ranged 12.20 to 18.60 cmolckg-1) indicating moderate ability to retain nutrients. Finally, pH showed strong positive correlation with SOM, CEC and CaCO3 content while soil EC showed strong negative correlation with pH, SOM and calcium CaCO3 content. From this study, it was ascertained that these forest surface soils are considered to be quality due to non-saline, non-calcareous in nature and proven to contain significant quantities of SOM and CEC. Also, the soils were predominantly sandy loam and loamy sand and possess suitable pH for normal forest ecosystems.