PN17. Baseline Report on the Soils of the Limpopo River Basin.


The Limpopo River Basin is a semi-arid to arid region that is shared by Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Its 14 million inhabitants are dependent on land cultivation, pasture and irrigation for livelihood. Although the region has high potential for agricultural production current levels are very low leaving households vulnerable to food shortages and hunger. As part of the Limpopo River Basin Project PN17 overall goal of improving food security, incomes and livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the Limpopo River Basin, an inventory of soil resources was conducted in the study area. The objectives of this study were to compile, map and describe the soils and their potential land use in the Limpopo River Basin. Such information is critical in decision-making, planning and implementation processes of the proposed developmental projects within the study area.

Soils information was compiled from the existing maps, bulletins, documents and other published reports obtained from the participating countries’ national institutions and international organizations. A total of 16 dominant soil groups, classified according to the FAO system, were identified and described. About 40% of the soils are moderately suitable to suitable for the production of a wide range of crops under rain-fed or irrigated agriculture and about 60% is unsuitable to marginally suitable but for wildlife, forestry and grazing. Soil depth, salinity, texture and poor chemical fertility are the most soil limiting factors for crop production.

Notwithstanding challenges of data availability, mapping scale and soil analytical methods and classification systems with other countries, a soil map of the Limpopo River Basin was produced at a scale of 1: 1000 000. This report starts by describing the general information of the area. The second part describes the identified soils and their potential land use and limitations.


Baseline Report on the Soils of the Limpopo River Basin, a contribution to theChallenge Program on Water and Food Project 17 “Integrated Water Resource Management for Improved RuralLivelihoods: Managing risk, mitigating drought and improving water productivity in the water scarce Limpopo Basin”.WaterNet Working Paper 8. WaterNet, Harare.

PN17. Baseline Report on the Soils of the Limpopo River Basin.

Published 1 January 2009