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22 The agricultural
development of
The Gambia:
an agricultural,
environmental and
Volume 1

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The agricultural development

of The Gambia: an agricultural,
environmental and
socioeconomic analysis
Volume 1


Groundnut marketing: a typical groundnut secco (buying point and store) near the River Gambia
Land Resources Division

The agricultural development of

The Gambia: an agricultural,
environmental and
socioeconomic analysis
Volume 1

J R Dunsmore, A Blair Rains,

G D N Lowe, D J Moffatt,
I P Anderson and J B Williams

Land Resource Study 22

Land Resources Division, Ministry of Overseas Development

Tolworth Tower, Surbiton, Surrey, England KT6 7DY

The Land Resources Division of the Ministry of Overseas Development assists develop-
ing countries in mapping, investigating and assessing land resources, and makes recom-
mendations on the use of these resources for the development of agriculture, livestock
husbandry and forestry; it also gives advice on related subjects to overseas governments
and organisations, makes scientific personnel available for appointment abroad and pro-
vides lectures and training courses in the basic techniques of resource appraisal.

The Division works in close cooperation with government departments, research

institutes, universities and international organisations concerned with land resources
assessment and development planning.










Origin and objectives of the project

Team composition

Procedure 2
Ecological survey 3
Soil water studies 3
Climatology and hydrology 3
Land use analysis 4
Socioeconomic studies 4
Animal husbandry 5
Crop production 5
Forestry 5
Wildlife 6

Related non-LRD projects (J R Dunsmore) 6

UNDP Gambia river basin study 6
Taiwan rice mission 7
IBRD-IDA-financed agricultural development project 7
FAO agricultural census 7
Population census 7
Weltfriedendienst community development project 8
Related work in Senegal 8
Acknowledgements 8

Policy: the use of land and water 11

Planning and implementation 11
Land use and potential 11
Irrigation water 11
Fertilisers 12
Soil conservation 12
Land tenure 12
Agricultural credit 12

Crops 12
Cereals 12
Fibre crops 13
Groundnuts 13
Comparative economic analysis of cotton, groundnuts and
irrigated rice . 13
Fruit 14
Root crops 14
Sugar cane .14
Vegetables 14

Forestry 14
Forest policy 15

Livestock 15
Marketing 16
Breeding 16
Extension 16
Milk 16
Animal husbandry and veterinary stations 16
Research 16
Taxation 16

Wildlife , 16

Extension 17


(D J Moffatt, I P Anderson and J B Williams)

PART 4 CLIMATE (J B Williams) 21

Rainfall 26
Spatial distribution 26
Temporal distribution 29
Intensity 31

Evaporation 31

Solar radiation 35

Temperature 36
Air temperature 36
Growing degree-days 41
Soil temperature 41

Vapour pressure 42

Wind 42
PART 5 HYDROLOGY (J B Williams) 47

The Gambia River 47

Bolons 49

Groundwater 49
Water flow into the river 49


I P Anderson)

Geology 51

Geomorphology 52

PART 7 SOIL STUDY METHODS (D J Moffatt and I P Anderson) 59

Interpretation of aerial photographs 59

Fieldwork 59
Western Division survey 59
Land resources project: reconnaissance survey 59
Land resources project: survey of selected alluvial areas 60
Sample strips of major associations 62
Field measurement of soil bulk density and
penetrability 62

Final interpretation and mapping 62

Western Division survey 62
Reconnaissance survey 63
Survey of selected alluvial areas 63
Sample strips 63

Laboratory analysis 63


( D J Moffatt and I P Anderson)

Summary 65

Introduction 66

The soils of the Continental Terminal 67

Profile morphology 67
Physical determinations 71
Chemical characteristics 81

The soils of the alluvium 85

Profile morphology 85
Chemical characteristics 88

Soil characteristics and soil classification 91

Introduction 91
The diagnostic criteria 92
Keys for the classification of the soils 97
Brief series descriptions 100

PART 9 SOIL WATER (J B Williams) 105

Introduction 105

Available water 105

Accessible water 112

Infiltration of rain water 113

Soil water changes 114

Water for planting 118

Effect of plant density of annual crops 118

Effect of management practices 118

PART 10 SOIL DISTRIBUTION (I P Anderson and D J Moffatt) 119

Introduction 119

The soils of the Continental Terminal 119

Western area 123
Eastern area 126

The soils of the alluvium 130

Western, North Bank and Lower River Divisions 130
MacCarthy Island Division 131
Upper River Division 137

The colluvio-alluvial soils 138

The soils of the littoral 138

PART 11 VEGETATION (A Blair Rainsand M S Johnson) 159

Introduction 159

Parkland or woodland savanna

(Soil Associations 1,2,6,7) 159

Woodland including riparian woodland

(Soil Associations 4,5) 161

Disturbed woodland with shrub understorey

(Soil Associations 3,8,9,10,11,12) 161

Soil Association 13 161

a. Riparian thickets and woodlands 161
b. Fringing woodland 162
c. Mitragyna-Acacia scattered tree savanna 162

Soil Association 14 162

a. Mangrove 162
b. Barren flats 163

Herbaceous floodplain
(Soil Association 15) 163

Medium - tall flooded grassland

(Soil Association 16) 163

Medium height grassland

(Soil Association 17,18,21,22) 163

Woodland on alluvial areas in MacCarthy Island Division and on

levees in the east
(Soil Associations 19, 20, 23) 163

Coastal vegetation
(Soil Association 24) 164
a. Parinari-Loudetia 164
b. Borassus 164
c. Dunes with stunted Adansonia 164
d. Low tree - tall grass 164


ENVIRONMENT (D J Moffatt, I P Anderson and
J R Dunsmore)

Climate 165

Hydrology 165

Soils 166
Soil depth 166
Soil moisture 167
Soil strength 167
Soil salinity 168
Soil reaction 168
Nutrient status 168
Microtopography 171



Crops (J R Dunsmore) 173

Production and import statistics 173
Current practices and research 174
Cereals 179
Bulrush millet 179
Hungry rice 181
Maize 181
Rice 182
Sorghum 189
Fibre crops 191
Baobab 191
Cotton 191
Kenaf 195
Roselle 195
Sisal 195
Fruits 195
Avocado 195
Banana 195
Cashew 195
Coconuts 196
Date 197
jx Lime 197
Fruits (continued)
Mango 198
Minor citrus - grapefruit, orange 199
Papaya 199
Passion fruit 199
Pineapple 199
Talo 199
Legumes 199
Bambara groundnut 199
Cowpea 199
Pigeon pea 200
Miscellaneous crops 200
Breadfruit 200
Kapok 200
Lemon grass 200
Mulberry 200
Tobacco 200
Oilseeds 201
Groundnut (including confectionery groundnut) 201
Oil palm 204
Sesame 205
Soya bean 206
Root crops 206
Cassava 206
Sweet potato om
Vegetables - temperate 207
Beans 208
Cabbage 208
Carrots 209
Irish potatoes 209
Lettuce 209
Onions 209
Tomato 210
(Bitter tomato)
Vegetables - tropical 210
African spinach 210
Bottle gourd 211
Brinjal 211
Melon 211
Okra 211
Pepper 211
Roselle 211

Foresty (M S Johnson and P W T Henry) 211

Local timber industry 212
Export 212
Import 212
Internal trade 213
The Foresty Division 213
Forest Parks 213
Forest legislation 216
Research 217
Forest policy 218
Future wood supply 219

Livestock (A Blair Rains) 220

The Livestock Department 221
Hides and skins 221
Grassland communities 221
Browse 222
Estimate of fodder and feeding stuff resources 222
Livestock (continued)
Fires 224
The national cattle herd 224
The calf 229
Growth rate 231
Compensatory growth 232
Disease and herd condition 232
Animal nutrition 233

Wildlife (J R Dunsmore) 235

Current and potential land use (J R Dunsmore) 237
Method 237
Soil Associations 1-24 238
Land Use Categories 1-4 239

Results 239
Soils associations by geographical region 239
Land use by geographical region 241
Land use and soil suitability groups 241


(J R Dunsmore)

Population 247
Data collected 247
Population censuses 1901-73 247
Population growth 248
Expectation of life 248
Tribal percentages 248
Sex and age groups 249
Nationality of the population 249
Place of birth and migration 249
Population projection 251
Population density 251

Government administration 253

Other public services 255

Communications 256
Internal 256
External 256


STUDIES (G D N Lowe) 257

Introduction 257

Terms of reference of the study 257

Objectives 257
Production variables 258
Social variables 259
Methodology 259
Selection of survey areas 259
Selection of villages and compounds 260
Enumerators 260
Categories of data collected 263
Collection of data on labour 263


Historical background 267

Social structures 267

Overview 267
Ethnic groups 268
Administrative divisions 269
The village and districts o 269
The ward (kabilo) 269
The compound 270
The dabada 270
Age and sex distribution 271

Social organisation at village level 276

Social stratification 276
Age sets and grades 277
Decision making 278
Marriage 279
Religion 280


Introduction to land tenure 281

Traditional land tenure system 282

Historical factors 282
Land allocation 283

Land use 287

Land use patterns 287
Fragmentation 288
Rotations 294
Land shortage 296

Causes of stress on traditional land tenure

systems and their effects 297
Population pressure and the exchange
economy 297
Changes in production technology 298
The capital-intensive model of commercial farms, and
individual tenure 299

Summary and conclusions 299



Introduction 303

Higher income demand and the motivation for change 303

Income and expenditure 306

Rural savings 307

The role of the moneylender 309

Distribution of income 311

(G D N Lowe)

Introduction to the analysis of traditional farming systems and

the effects of technological change 313
Sex role differentiation in Gambian cropping systems 315

Model I: The groundnut 'package' programme 315

Objectives of the 'package' study 315
Details of the 'package' study and recommendations 316
Project design and methods of village selection 317
Field operations 318
Results 319
The improvement of crop yields 319
Labour input 324
Economics of the 'packagef programme 326
Social effects of the 'package' programme 326
Evaluation of the ox equipment in the 'package' 327
Improvement in the timing and quality of agronomic
practices incorporated in the 'package' 330
Cost effectiveness of fertiliser application 330
The impact of the 'package' programme on traditional
farming systems 333
Economic viability of the package programmes 333

Model II: Cotton in Upper River Division 338

Labour input 338
Economic aspects of cotton 338
The introduction of cotton into the traditional
farming system 339

Model III: Irrigated rice in MacCarthy Island Division 343

Labour input 343
Economic aspects of irrigated rice 343

Summary 347
Ratio of cash crops to food crops 347
Capital investment and the introduction of new technology 348
Land 349
Labour 350
Conclusions 351
Model I: Groundnuts 351
Model I IB/I ID: Cotton 352
Model MIß: Irrigated rice 354
Integrated groundnuts/cereals 'package' programme 355



Introduction 359

Comparative economic analysis of the new technologies - 359

Specific causes of underdevelopment in the Gambian rural
sector 364

Initiating and implementing change in the rural sector 364

DEVELOPMENT (J R Dunsmore) 373

Policy: The use of land and water 373

Human health 373
Planning and implementation 373
Land use and potential 374
Irrigation water 375
Fertilisers 376
Soil conservation 376
Land tenure 376
Agricultural credit 376

Crops 378
Cereals 378
Irrigated rice 378
Rainfed rice 380
Millet 380
Maize 380
Sorghum 380
Fibre crop 381
Cotton 381
Groundnuts 381
Groundnuts, oilseed 381
U I U U I I U I I U U , euiuie 382
Comparative economic analysis of cotton, groundnuts and
irrigated rice 382
Fruit 383
Cashew 383
Limes 383
Root crop 383
Cassava 383
Sugarcane 384
Vegetables 384

Forestry 385
Introduction 385
Forest policy 385
Forest legislation 386
Forestry service 386
Research 386
Planting programme 387
Urban fuel production 387
Sawn wood production 388
Utilisation unit, Nyambai 389
Rhun palm 389
Mangrove 390
Extension 390

Livestock 390
Introduction 390
Marketing 392
Breeds 392
Extension 393
Milk 395
Animal husbandry and veterinary stations 395
Research 395
Taxation 396
Wildlife 397

Extension 399
Village Development Schemes 399


1. Climatic parameters recorded at Yundum, 9 August 1972 22

2. Climatic parameters recorded at Basse, 7 July 1973 23

3. Climatic parameters recorded at Yundum, 4 April 1973 24

4. Climatic parameters recorded at Basse, 27 February 1973 25

5. Mean 10-day totals of rainfall at Yundum (1946-73), The Gambia,

and Samaru (1928-69), Northern Nigeria 30

6. Comparison of evaporation at Yundum and Basse: short-term class

A pan measurements with Penman E 0 'calculated from selected
meteorological data 32

7. Comparison of Penman potential evaporation with measured mean

evaporation from Meteorological Office tank evaporimeter at
Yundum 32

8. Penman (Et) estimated of crop evapotranspiration at Yundum

and Basse, The Gambia, compared with Samaru, Northern Nigeria 33

9. Estimated minimum 10-day rainfall totals at Yundum at levels of 10%,

50% and 90% probability-based on 28 years of records (1946-73) 34

10. Mean daily sunshine hours for each month at Yundum, Samaru 37

11. Mean daily Gunn-Bellani radiation measurements for each month

at Yundum and Basse 37

12. Calculated and observed radiation at Yundum 38

13. Comparison of coastal and inland monthly mean diurnal

temperature range (four stations from Basse inland to Cape
St. Mary on the coast) 39

14. Diurnal changes in temperature and wet-bulb temperature

depression at Yundum on the wet and dry season clays shown
in Figures 1 and 3 43

15. Diurnal change in relative humidity at Yundum on the wet and dry
season days shown in Figures 1 and 3 43

16. Diurnal change in vapour pressure and saturated vapour pressure

at Yundum on the wet and dry season days shown in Figures 1 and 3 44

17. Monthly means of daily wind run data; wind runs measured during
hours of daylight only 45

18. Landform transition from west to east showing ironpan levels 54

19. Idealised north-to-south cross-section in eastern Gambia showing

ironpan levels 54

20. Variation in clay content with depth 72

21. Variation in clay content and fine sand : coarse sand ratio
(50-250/i/> 250/i) with depth; Profile WAG 333, Misera
Series 401 74

22. Fine sand : coarse sand ratios, (20-200/u/> 200^), in some soils
of Western Division 75

23. Cumulative frequency distribution of particle size; Profile

WAG 326, Jar Kunda Series 419 77

24. Cumulative frequency distribution of particle size; Profile

WAG 414, Misera Series 401 78

25. Some observed soil-water content profiles at Tube 15,

Giroba Kunda, lower colluvial slope site 107

26. Some observed soil-water content profiles at Tube 26,

Giroba Kunda, upper colluvial slope site 108

27. Seasonal wetting (a) and drying (b) under sorghum crop in
a lower plateau soil at Sabi (Badjara) 109

28. Some seasonal wetting (a) and drying (b) profiles in upper
plateau soil near Sabi in 1973 111

29. Calculated and mean observed available water in profiles under

Gmelina trees at Nyambai 1973 115

30. Calculated and observed seasonal changes in soil water under

sorghum at Sabi (Badjara) 116

31. Available water in each of the first 3 metres of soil during the 1973
wet season under mature Gmelina trees in Nyambai plantation 117

32. Idealised sections showing the relationship between landform

and soil mapping associations 120

33. Cumulative frequency distribution of particle size; Profile WAG

143, Charman Series 403 125

34. Cross-sections along representative traverses in Alluvial Areas

1b, 1a, 2 and 3 showing the relationship between mapping units
and topography 133

35. Cross-section along representative traverses in Alluvial Areas

4, 5 and 6 showing the relationship between mapping units and
topography 135

36. Nasso Kunda, Bureng: kinship diagram 272

37. Nasso Kunda, Bureng: diagram of the compound 273

38. Touray Kunda, Sukuta: kinship diagram 274

39. Touray Kunda, Sukuta: diagram of the compound 275

40. Land use patterns 289

41. Mbye Kunda, llliassa: fragmentation of compound fields 290

42. Dampha Kunda, Nokunda: fragmentation of compound fields 291

43. Jitis Kunda, Toniataba: fragmentation of compound fields 292

44. Schematic representation of compound income and

expenditure patterns over a 1-year period 308

45. Groundnut package yields of villages in order of their control

yields 322

46. Groundnut package yields of compounds in order of their

control yields 323

47. Distribution of labour input per acre for successive operations

in groundnut production. Models 1A, B and C 331


Frontispiece Groundnut marketing: a typical groundnut Secco

(buying point and store) near the River Gambia

1. Geomorphology of the valley of the River Gambia between Sapu

and Georgetown, MacCarthy Island Division 56

2. Geomorphology of the valley of the River Gambia between Basse

and Fattatenda, Upper River Division 57

3. Soil survey: recording the results of an auger boring 61

4. Soil water studies (see also Part 4): describing the soil profile
at a site where soil water studies using a neutron probe were
undertaken 61

5. Socioeconomic studies: measurement of farmers'fields 264

6. ßocioeconomic studies: a compound in a Serahuli village 264

7. Crop production: an area of traditional rainfed rice 176

8. Crop production: land preparation by a women's kaf o 176

9. Sheet erosion on a gentle colluvial slope 180

10. Irrigated rice fertiliser experiment. (The unfertilised plot is in the

foreground) 187

11. Cotton cultivar experiment: drying the produce of

experimental plots in a farmer's compound 187

12. N'Dama cattle tethered overnight to fertilise the soil for

later crop production 225

13. N'Dama cattle in a trial on final fattening before slaughter 225


1. Location of the project Facing Page 1

2. Rainfall distribution and location of hydrometeorological

observation sites 27

3. Alluvial Area 1b 139

4. Alluvial Area 1a 141

5. Alluvial Area 2 143

6. Alluvial Area 3 144

7. Alluvial Area 4 145

8. Alluvial Area 5 146

9. Alluvial Area 6 147

10. Sample Strip 1-Walli Kunda 149

11. Sample Strip 2 - Sabi 151

12. Sample Strip 3 - Yorro Pendeh 153

13. Sample Strip 4 - Pateh Sam 155

14. Sample Strip 5 - Genieri 157

15. Location of sample villages in 1972 and 1973 261


Soil Association Map, 1:125 000, four sheets inside rear cover

Glossary and general information


Dalasis 1 = 100bututs
£1 = D4 (the dalasi was revalued from £1 = D5 on 23 March 1973)


1 pound (lb) = 0.4536 kilogram (kg)

1 long ton (Igt) = 1.016 metric ton (t)
1 acre (ac) = 0.40 hectare (ha)
1 mile (mi) = 1.609 kilometres (km)
1 cubic foot/sec (cu/sec) = 0.028 cubic metre/second (m^/sec)
1 gallon (gal) = 4.546 litres (1)
1 pound/acre (Ib/ac) = 1.12 kilograms/hectare (kg/ha)


ADP — Agricultural Development Project, Gambia

GMPB — Gambia Marketing Produce Board
MANR — Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Gambia

DOS — Directorate of Overseas Surveys (formerly ODA)

ODM — Ministry of Overseas Development
TPI — Tropical Products Institute
TSAU - Tropical Soils Analysis Unit (of LRD), Reading

ADB — African Development Bank

CPCS — Commission de Pédologie et de Cartographie des Sols (1967)
FAO — Food and Agriculture Organisation
IBRD — International Bank for Reconstruction and Development ('World Bank')
IDA — International Development Association
UNDP — United Nations Development Programme

AWS — Automatic Weather Station

a.d.s. — Air dry soil
a.m.s.l. — above mean sea level

Abstracts and keywords


This study reports on the current crop and animal production practices in The Gambia
and on present land use and capability. The physical environment is described and the
soil associations are mapped at a scale of 1:125 000. The results of comprehensive
socioeconomic studies at village level are recorded. On the basis of these findings,
recommendations are made which are aimed at improving food production of both
crop and animal origin for local consumption, increasing exports of crop products and
enlarging the forest resource.


Cette étude examine lessystémes d'agriculture et d'élevage pratiques aujourd'hui en

Gambie ainsi que ('utilisation actuelle et potentielle des terres dans ce pays. Elle décrit
les caractéristiques physiques du milieu et s'accompagne d'une carte pédologique ä
l'échelle de 1/125.000. Elle présente les résultats d'enquêtes socio-économiques
approfondies effectuées au niveau du village. S'inspirant des conclusions tirées de ces
enquêtes, eile recommande des moyens d'améliorer la production de denrées alimentaires
d'origine végétale et animale pour la consommation domestique, d'accroitre les
exportations de produits provenant des récoltes et de développer les ressources


West/Africa/The Gambia/climate/geology/geomorphology/hydrology/soil classification/

soil water/water resources/agriculture practices/agricultural development/livestock
development/forestry development/land use (current)/livestock/cattle/wildlife/forestry/
crop production/land tenure/sociology/economics/vegetation survey/animal production.

Parts 1-15

The attention of readers who wish to obtain a rapid impression of the content and
implications of the report is drawn to Part 1, Introduction, and Part 2, Summary of
recommendations. The full recommendations are in Part 21
15°30' )4°30' West of Greenwich

20° 10°
l )


Kilometres 0 5 10
SCALE 1 :750.000
20 30 40 Kilometres
S E N E G A L (
I THE \ s~
Miles 0 5 10 20 Miles G A M B I A t > - ^i / MALI
Divisional Headquarters • ifivcro

Other towns 10° -A.

• Project and International
Agricultural stations —-
o ** \LEONE)~~) f IVORY / ^
Uivisional boundary ' ' C0AST
N'Jau f Charmen^ ^-^
^<<>il / ^
( 0

\o2~ Miles 200 0 200 400 600 Miles

_ Kilometres 200 0 200 400 600 800 Kil ametres

i i
Kali* \


Bijol Is.


«. ( C A S A M A N C E


IB°30' 16° West ol Greenwich 15°30' I4°30'

D.O.S. 3213A Prepared by Directorate of Overseas Surveys 1976
Part 1


This report is published with the permission of the Government of The Gambia to whom
a draft report was submitted in 1975. Before the submission of the draft, periodic
reports on the progress of the project were made to the government (Blair Rains et al.,
1972; Blair Rains, 1972; Dunsmore 1972, 1973 a, b, c, d, 1974 a; Dunsmore ed., 1973).

The report records the findings of the Land Resources Development Project which was
undertaken during 1972-5 by the Land Resources Division. It also reviews other infor-
mation available on the renewable natural resources of the country and their current
exploitation. On the basis of the information obtained, recommendations are made for
the development of agriculture, forestry, livestock and wildlife.

The attention of readers who wish to obtain a rapid impression of the main implications
of the study is drawn to Part 2 of this report, 'Summary of recommendations'.


The request for the Land Resources Development Project was a continuation of an
established policy of the Government of The Gambia to ensure that development plan-
ning for agriculture, animal husbandry and forestry was based on the fullest practicable
assessment of the country's renewable natural resources and of the relevant socio-
economic factors. The Land Resources Division (LRD) of the United Kingdom Ministry
of Overseas Development had previously completed an environmental study of the
Western Division which included an assessment of the possibilities of oil palm cultiva-
tion, (Hill, 1968, 1969). After reviewing this study the Government of The Gambia
decided that a soil and land capability survey of the whole country would be valuable
but that technical and financial considerations prevented its immediate implementation.
A t the time of this decision there was growing cooperation between The Gambia and
Senegal and this led to consideration of a proposal for a study of that part of the
Gambia river basin which lay in the two countries. A LRD appraisal mission was
mounted to review this; it subsequently recommended that an integrated land resource
study should be undertaken jointly by LRD and ORSTOM working in cooperation with
Gambian and Senegalese scientists and support staff. The negotiations over this pro-
posal were protracted and in March 1971 the Government of The Gambia requested
that the work be divided into two phases: Phase 1 would cover The Gambia and would
be undertaken by LRD. It would complement a hydrological study being undertaken by
UNDP (1970). Draft proposals for the first phase were prepared by Robertson (1971);
these led to the preparation of detailed proposals by Brunt and Robertson (1S71) which
were approved by the governments of The Gambia and the United Kingdom and were
the basis for the Land Resources Development Project.

The objectives of the project were t o undertake:

1. An integrated land resource development study of The Gambia which by

means of an ecological survey with special reference to the soil resources
and an analysis of present population, land use and socioeconomic factors,
would define the ecological units (or agricultural zones) in the country,
assess their potential for agricultural development and draw up broad plans
for their development

2. Enterprise studies to investigate and prescribe technically and economically

feasible methods and systems of production within agricultural zones.
Special attention was to be given to cotton, groundnuts, forage crops and
arable by-products and to the integration of livestock and crop production.
Appropriate help was to be given with the siting, establishment and develop-
ment of a proposed Livestock Development Centre (LDC)

3. The selection and predevelopment planning of areas suitable for double

cropping of rice and possibly for cotton production. Rice development
possibilities were to be studied in uncultivated alluvial areas and also in
areas currently being farmed along traditional lines

The project was designed as a cooperative effort between the Government of The
Gambia and the Land Resources Division. It was to be an integral part of the develop-
ment programme of the Gambian Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources and
would complement the work of United Nations agencies (see Related non-LRD pro-

It did not prove possible during the period of the field work to resolve the question of
the objectives of the Livestock Development Centre; no direct work in connection with
the centre was therefore possible. During the course of the project the need became
clear for fuller studies of certain aspects of present and future land use such as the
optimum use of soil water, the consumption of forest products and the role of wildlife
in rural development; these studies were undertaken.


The LRD scientists and consultants who carried out field work for the project are listed
in Table 1; short consultancy visits were paid by M Ä Brunt, J K Coulter (pedology),
I D Hill (pedology), W J Howard (forestry), J F Laurence (hydrology), C A Robertson
(economics), and Miss M R Haswell (socioeconomics, University of Oxford).

M S Ceesay (agricultural chemist) and A A B N'Jie (agricultural economist) of the

Gambian Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources served as part-time counterpart


The work undertaken in each of the fields of study is described below. To facilitate
study of several aspects of the project, new aerial photography of the whole country
at a scale of 1:25 000, and of selected areas at 1:10 000, was flown in January 1972.
TABLE 1 Names of L R D personnel and associated consultants who carried out field work, with their disciplines
and periods of service

Name Discipline Dates of service

1 P Anderson Soil surveyor 9. 5 . 7 2 - 13.12.73

A Blair Rains Pasture/livestock specialist 31. 1.72- 12. 7.72
27. 9 . 7 3 - 29.11.73
R W Clore Peace Corps Volunteer (socioeconomics) 8. 5 . 7 3 - 29. 5.74
J R Dunsmore Project manager/agronomist 15. 2 . 7 2 - 9. 3.72
15. 8 . 7 2 - 6. 3.74
M S Johnson Forester 7. 6.73 - 22. 8.73
G 0 N Lowe Socioeconomist 26. 1 . 7 2 - 14. 5.74
T M Mead V S O (agronomy) 5. 9 . 7 2 - 12. 9.73
D J Moffatt Soil surveyor 29.11.71 - 29.11.73
K Openshaw Forest economics consultant 26. 4.73 - 25. 7.73
1 S C Parker Wildlife consultant* 21.11.72- 19.12.72
A R Stobbs Pedologist 29.11.71 - 8. 3.72
25. 7 . 7 2 - 16. 8.72
26. 4.73 - 16. 5.73
J B Williams Environmental scientist 4. 7 . 7 2 - 20.12.72
3. 5 . 7 3 - 26. 2.74
1 Young V S O (animal husbandry) 5. 9 . 7 2 - 28. 2.74

' W i l d l i f e Services L t d , Nairobi

Ecological survey

The purpose of the ecological survey was to describe the natural ecological units of
The Gambia as determined by geology, landform, soil (to which special attention was
paid), climate, hydrology and vegetation. The geology, landform, soils and vegetation of
the Western Division had been described following an earlier LRD project in The
Gambia by Hill (1968 and 1969) whose work was incorporated into the present study.
The first part of the present survey was carried out in Tolworth in 1971; this involved
a preliminary landscape analysis by air photograph interpretation using the 1968
1:45 000 RAF photography. The boundaries of the landscape units were plotted on to
1:50 000 map sheets which were then taken to The Gambia for use as base maps for
the field work which began in January 1972. The soils were examined on a network of
traverses throughout the country. Representative soil profiles were described; samples
were chemically and physically analysed. From these data, an interpretation of the soil
distribution pattern was made using the 1972 1:25 000 photography and this interpre-
tation formed the basis of the 1:125 000 soil association map of the country. The soils
were classified according to locally relevant criteria and this classification was correlated
with the systems proposed by ORSTOM, USDA and FAO. The soils were considered in
terms of their capability and their management requirements. Because of their import-
ance for future development, e.g. for the Agricultural Development Project programme,
the alluvial soils of MacCarthy Island Division were studied in greater detail and were
mapped at 1:50 000. A further five sample areas, representative of typical Gambian
soil associations, were also studied in detail and described and mapped at 1:5 000.

Soil-water studies

Tn a country like The Gambia with its limited rainfall and long dry season, optimum
iuse of rainfall and soil water is vital. An environmental scientist was therefore attached
to the project. Using a neutron probe, he studied soil-water-plant relationships on sites
selected for the variety of soil types and vegetative cover; this enabled data to be
gathered on wetting-up patterns of different soils, the changing infiltration rate during
wetting-up, the rates of evaporation from damp bare soil, saturation and field capacity
values, long-term drainage rates and effective rooting depths for economic crops.

Climatology and hydrology

Concurrently with the Land Resources Development Project, UNDP undertook an

hydrological and meteorological survey of the Gambia river basin within The Gambia
and Senegal. Data collection on the main river included measurements of discharge,
longitudinal profiles of salinity, water levels and some hydrographic survey. A

groundwater study was also undertaken. The LRD project assisted the UNDP survey by
maintaining a number of raingauges and undertaking a series of well measurements. The
project also set up two Wallingford automatic weather stations, one at Yundum and one
at Basse. Four Munro water-level recorders were loaned to the Agricultural Development
Project for the measurement of flooding in a typical alluvial area.

Land use analysis

A land use analysis was carried out based on interpretation of the aerial photographs
specially flown for the project in January 1972. This analysis comprised random point
sampling of the land-use pattern for the entire country and a more detailed study of the
land use in areas surrounding six villages. The results of the national survey are presented
• or Seven geograpiiicai regions comprising eacn o* tue country s live aurninistrativs
divisions with the two eastern divisions, MacCarthy Island and Upper River, further
divided into north and south banks. Within each of these divisions or subdivisions the
land was divided again into landscape units within which current land use was identified
and an estimate made of the area occupied by each land use category. In order to assess
the changing pattern of land use the villages of Keneba, Genieri, Sukuta, Sankulaykunda,
Nokunda and Mankamakunda were studied by means of photography flown in 1946,
1956, 1968 and 1972.

Socioeconomic studies

Groundnuts dominate both agricultural activity and national economics in The Gambia.
The need therefore to subject the production of the crop to a detailed socioeconomic
analysis was clear. In areas where irrigated rice and cotton were being introduced there
was a further need to study the inter-relationships between the production of ground-
nuts and the new crops: the major socioeconomic survey effort in the 1972/3 season
was put into this aspect of the work. For the groundnuts and rice study, eight villages
were selected at random from among Mandingo villages of over 15 compounds which
farmed colluvial/alluvial areas in MacCarthy Island and Upper River Divisions; four of
these villages grew groundnuts and irrigated rice and four grew groundnuts and rainfed
rice. Within each village, ten compounds were selected at random. For the groundnuts
and cotton study, four villages, two Mandingo and two Serahuli, were selected at
random from among those joining the Department of Agriculture's cotton development
scheme; again ten compounds were selected at random within each village. An enumer-
ator was posted to each of the twelve villages and lived there throughout the growing
and marketing season; in the irrigated rice villages the enumerator remained until the
harvest of thesecond (dry season)crop. A record was made of the compound members,
their land, stock and equipment in the selected compounds. Subsequently, a daily
record was made of the activities of each member and of all inputs, returns and cash
flow throughout the period from initial land cultivation to final marketing.

For the 1973/4 season, a detailed appraisal was made of the effectiveness of current
Government extension recommendations for groundnut production compared with
traditional methods. Ten Mandingo villages were chosen at random in Lower River and
North Bank Divisions. Within each of these villages, nine compounds were selected —
three, which owned oxen, applied a package of recommendations including ox power,
three applied a similar package including manual power and three followed traditional
methods. The recommendations comprised the use of improved seed, fertiliser and
correct spacing, seeding and weeding. An enumerator was posted to each village to
maintain full daily records. During the same season, further studies on cotton were
undertaken. In two villages these comprised similar surveys to those of the previous
season together with an attempt to ascertain the effect of the introduction of cotton
on cropping patterns. In villages where cotton had been tried and abandoned attempts
were made to discover reasons for this failure.

During the course of these and other studies, information was obtained on economic,
institutional and other constraints on the overall development of the rural economy.

A weekly retail price survey at eight village market centres, covering 27 common
commodities, was undertaken from August 1972 until March 1974.

Animal husbandry

The pasture/livestock specialist in the LRD team had previously been a member of an
ODA livestock marketing mission. During the course of this mission he studied the
Gambian cattle situation (Blair Rains, in Biggs eta/. 1971). He showed that the herd
had a disproportionate number of old barren females and that a substantially increased
offtake could be achieved from a younger herd totalling the same number of adult equiv-
alents. The study of the fodder resources indicated that the quantity available in the
dry season was inadequate for the existing herd, which was then (1970) expanding at a
rate of 4.3% per annum. There was therefore an urgent need to study further the
position and attitudes of cattle owners and herdsmen. The project included a survey to
cover this. The project proposals envisaged the pasture/livestock specialist assisting with
the selection of a site and the formulation of a programme for the Livestock Develop-
ment Centre (LDC). Unfortunately plans for the LDC were not completed during the
period of the LRD project so this assistance was not possible. The need for an expanded
extension programme among cattle owners, which would have been a major function of
the LDC, was not however questioned and possible activities in this field were suggested.
Several investigations were recommended: some were initiated in collaboration with the
Departments of Agriculture and Veterinary Services. These included experiments on:

1. The feeding of supplementary phosphates to heifers

2. The optimum age for the castration of well reared and traditionally reared

and observations on:

3. The final fattening of slaughter stock

4. The establishment of two Stylosanthes species

Arrangements were made for trials to be carried out on the pelleting of groundnut dust;
this is a by-product of the local groundnut mills which is currently largely wasted but
has a good potential as an animal feeding stuff. Routes for access tracks ('dappos') to
areas of pasture to facilitate cattle grazing were proposed and indicated on photo-

Crop production

Forty agronomic experiments on cotton, rice and confectionery groundnuts were

carried out by the project in association with the Department of Agriculture. The
results of these are included in a review of the present methods of production for the
crops of The Gambia. An account of the current position with regard to agronomic
research is given.


The team undertook two major forestry studies. The first concerned wood consump-
tion and had the following terms of reference:

1. To obtain a preliminary estimate of the annual consumption per person of

firewood, charcoal, etc., for cooking and heating purposes;the requirements
of both rural and urban populations were to be ascertained and seasonal,
district and ethnic variations were to be recorded

2. To estimate the present consumption of indigenous, planted and imported

timber and forest products for all purposes in The Gambia and make demand
forecasts for two target periods — 1985 and 2000, thus enabling plans for
the forest and forest industries of The Gambia to be compiled. Particular
reference was to be made to the position of the rhun palm, Borassus
aethiopum, in view of its importance as a building material in rural areas

and its apparent over-exploitation. The present and potential use of man-
grove, Rhizophora racemosa and Avicennia nitida, as a source of polewood
and fuel was also to be considered

Field studies were carried out in April — August 1973 and reported to the Government
of The Gambia in November (Openshaw, 1973). In order to assess seasonal variations
in fuel consumption it was arranged that the FAO agricultural census should obtain
further data on this aspect.

In the second major study, aerial photograph interpretation and field reconnaissance
surveys indicated that sufficient utilisable timber to justify an inventory existed only
in Western Division and Kiang West District. An exploratory survey was carried out in
those areas in 1973 and a brief examination of manarove resources in 1975 (Johnson.


The current state of wildlife conservation and its effect on the ecological balance was
investigated in late 1972 (Parker, 1973).


During the period of field work of the Land Resources Development Project, several
agencies were working in related projects:

1. UNDP Gambia river basin study

2. Taiwan rice mission

3. I BRD-1 DA-financed agricultural development project

4. FAO agricultural census

5. Population census

6. Weltfriedendienst community development project

UNDP Gambia river basin study

The Gambia river basin study was set up by the UNDP (UN Special Fund Project
REG 60) at the request of the governments of The Gambia and Senegal to establish
regular recording of hydrological and meteorological data on the river catchment. With-
in The Gambia the programme included:

1. Recording river levels by means of limnigraphs sited between the mouth of

the river and Basse (402 km:250 mi)

2. Repetitive measurements of the salinity profile of the river to record the

movement and distribution of salinity throughout the year. Subsequently, a
mathematical model was prepared to forecast the effect on the salt/sweet
water mixing zone of specific freshwater flows

3. Attempted recording of net drift of freshwater at Bansang (the river is tidal

throughout its entire length within The Gambia) in order to calculate the
quantity of water available for irrigation

4. A review of existing meteorological data and the establishment of additional

recording points where these were required

5. A preliminary study of the groundwater of The Gambia

Within Senegal, surveys were undertaken of potential dam sites where the water of the
main river could be impounded for irrigation, hydro-electric power, the stabilisation of
the saltwater interface and/or river level regulation for navigational purposes.

Taiwan rice mission

A Taiwan rice mission worked in The Gambia from 1966 until 1974 to introduce
intensive rice cultivation, including the use of irrigation where possible, to the Gambian
farmer. The mission conducted a small experimental programme. Rice development was
undertaken on alluvial flats within the area of the village concerned: it was intended to
complement work on other crops and livestock. Each farmer was expected to cultivate
at least 0.2 ha (0.5 ac) in association with other farmers so that the minimum area for
any one scheme was 4 ha (10 ac). The mission selected suitable areas for development,
prepared layout plans and supplied inputs. By the end of 1973 1 200 ha (3 000 ac) of
irrigable land and 400 ha (1 000 ac) of rainfed land had been developed involving 192
villages and 6 461 farmers.

IBRD-IDA-financed agricultural development project

An agricultural development project (ADP), financed by an International Development

Association (IDA) credit, was started in 1973 with the following objectives:

1. The development of 1 200 ha (3 000 ac) of land in MacCarthy Island Division

for double cropping of rice under pump irrigation, using existing successful
techniques: the selection of suitable land and the Drovision of security of
tenure to about 3 000 participants: the formation of cooperatives and pro-
vision of credit for irrigation equipment as well as seed and fertiliser for the
first crop: the training and strengthening of field staff: the construction of
staff housing and offices

2. The preparation of an integrated agricultural development project for the

MacCarthy Island Division by the end of 1974. This project would be based
on a study of the utilisation of swamp areas for intensive rice production and
subsequent development of pilot flood control works; a transport study
including road designs and cost estimates for a feeder road system; and
experimental work on rainfed crops, swamp rice and alternative crops for the
present irrigated rice schemes.

The methods used by the project for rice development were based on those developed
by the Taiwan rice mission, but the methods were formalised. The participants in each
scheme were required to form a cooperative through which all aid was channelled and
to which the land was leased. Pumps, tools and the inputs for the first crop were
supplied on credit (later the Taiwan rice mission adopted the same conditions). It was
intended that all land cultivation should be done by hand. During 1973 some 96 ha
(230 ac) were developed and sown to rice and by the end of 1975 this area had been
increased to 730 ha (1 800 ac).

The second objective of the project was altered in 1974 to an integrated agricultural
development project for eastern Gambia and work on this was undertaken in collabora-
tion with the President's Office, the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources and
the LRD team.

FAO agricultural census

An agricultural sample survey of The Gambia was undertaken in 1973 under the guidance
of an FAO statistician. This was a preliminary to an agricultural census which was carried
out in the 1974/5 season. Particular emphasis was given to crop areas and yields, a subject
on which there were few firm data.

Population census

A population census was carried out by the government of The Gambia in April 1973.

Weltfriedendienst community development project

The Weltfriedendienst (World Peace Service) community development project started

work in the Upper River Division in 1970 with the object of starting a training centre
for community development staff. This did not materialise but work has been done on
stimulating self-help schemes. Members of the team included doctors, an agronomist,
agricultural economist, architect and sociologists. The team has performed medical and
child welfare work and assisted in village schemes — cultivation of irrigated rice and
cassava, sanitation, water supplies and school building. It has also trained community
development workers.

Related work in Senegal

A great deal of research and extension work being carried out in Senegal is relevant to
The Gambia, particularly that conducted by the Institut de Recherches du Coton et des
Textiles Exotiques (IRCT), Kaolack, Institut de Recherches pour les Huiles et Oléagineux
(IRHO), Darou, Institut de Recherches Agronomiques Tropicales et des Cultures Vivrières
(I RAT), Bambey, Sefa and Djibelor, Office de la Recherche Scientifique et Technique
Outre-Mer (ORSTOM) Dakar, and Compagnie Franchise pour Ie Developpement de Fibres
Textiles (CFDT).


During the course of the field work for the Land Resources Development Project the
team was generously assisted by Gambians in all walks of life. The team is very sensible
of the fact that the validity of its findings owes much to this cooperation which was so
readily offered.

The project was placed for administrative purposes under the aegis of the Ministry of
Agriculture and Natural Resources. During the whole period of the project's service in
The Gambia, the Permanent Secretary, Mr F A J M'Boge, was unfailing in his assistance
and advice.

The project base was sited at the headquarters of the Department of Agriculture; this
permitted British members of the team to benefit from almost daily contact with the
Director of Agriculture, Dr L J Marenah, and senior members of his staff. Much assist-
ance was also given by the Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr W S M N'Dow and his staff and
Mr Malick John, now Director of Hydrometeorology.

Seven agricultural assistants of the Department of Agriculture were seconded to the

LRD project. They assisted with most field-work operations and worked hard for long
hours, often under very arduous conditions. For this assistance, deep appreciation is
offered to Messrs B M Ceesay, J A Ceesay, J Fye, M B Jagne, M B S Kinteh, S J E Owens
and M A Sise. In 1973/4 Mr R Allen gave substantial assistance by undertaking the
Genieri sample strip survey, the description of soil profiles at the sites of the soil
moisture studies and mechanical analysis of many soil samples.

The project owes a special debt of gratitude to the 230 heads of compounds and their
families who collaborated in the socioeconomic studies and permitted daily records to
be made of all their activities during the full length of a growing season. The excellent
work of the following enumerators who lived in the villages and maintained the records
is also gratefully acknowledged: Messrs M Leigh, Y G Bah, F Baldeh, P Ceesay, M Ceesay,
M Cham, B Camara, B Makalo, B Daffeh, M Drammeh, F Jaiteh, P Singateh and
Miss F Bojang.

A great deal of the success of this work was due to the efforts of the two field super-
visors, Messrs M Baro and R Clore. They were supported by a team of conscientious
statistical clerks. The work also received substantial support from the Statistics Division
of the President's Office,particularly Messrs D Roberts and M Stocks.

In the office the team was willingly assisted by two executive officers, the Hon. Mr M A
Jobe, MBE, JP, MP and Mr R J M Sock, and by Miss R Fowlis (typist).

During a number of visits to research institutions in Senegal team members received much
help and generous hospitality.

Throughout the period of the field work the team benefited from the continuous support
and encouragement of H E the British High Commissioner, Mr J R W Parker, OBE, and
his staff.

Following the return of the LRD members to Tolworth to prepare this Land Resource
Study, colleagues in the Tropical Soils Analysis Unit have completed analyses of soil
samples, the Cartographic section and the Directorate of Overseas Surveys have compiled
maps, graphs and figures, and Mr C Sear and Miss E Ramus have assisted with the pro-
cessing of data. The computer analysis of the socioeconomic data was undertaken by
Service in Informatics and Analysis Ltd and that of the land use data by the London
University Computer Service.

Part 2
Summary of recommendations

This section summarises, under the headings of Policy, Crops, Forestry, Livestock,
Wildlife and Extension, the recommendations made in the other sections of the study.
Readers looking for greater detail are referred to the relevant sections of the report and
to Part 2 1 , Recommendations for agricultural development. The recommendations do
not cover fields of rural development other than agriculture although it is stressed that
these are also important; indeed the effect of development on human health must be a
vital consideration.


Planning and implementation

It is essential that there should be clearly defined machinery for the preparation and
implementation of plans for agricultural development at national, divisional and
subdivisional levels. Such an organisation is described in Part 2 1 .

It is recommended that the Mixed Farming Centres of the Department of Agriculture

should be regarded as potential Rural Development Centres and six are named for
early upgrading.

Land use and potential

The colluvial slopes and similar soils, which are the most suitable for rainfed crops and
those principally used for the production of groundnuts and upland cereals, are already
very extensively used. More intensive methods of cultivation will therefore be
increasingly needed if their productivity is to be increased. By comparison, the 81 116
ha (200 437 ac) of alluvial soils, which are suitable for irrigated crop production, are
still relatively little used. Problems in their development have included the difficulty
of cultivating such fine-textured soils, the hazard of flooding, and the lack of irrigation
water in the dry season.

Irrigation water

The River Gambia is the only known major source of irrigation water in the country.
The river flow during the dry season is totally inadequate for the requirements of the
area available for irrigation; indeed, unless the dry season supply is augmented, the
expansion of the present very limited area of irrigated agriculture will be very small.
The UNDP hydrological survey has recommended that dams should be constructed on
the upper reaches of the river in Senegal in order to meet The Gambia's irrigation needs
in addition to some of Senegal's requirements. It is now suggested that a barrage across
the river within The Gambia might make irrigation water available sooner (5-8 years,
rather than 15-20 years for the Senegal dam) and could eventually usefully complement
any dam(s) which might be constructed. It is therefore strongly recommended that a
feasibility study be undertaken into the possibility of achieving salinity control and
irrigation development by the construction of either a conventional barrage or an
inflatable weir (flexible membrane).
Dams or barrages on the tributaries of the Gambia River are unlikely to be of major
importance. Wind power might be exploited for small irrigation schemes in the Yundum
area. There is an urgent need for the establishment of a Water Resources Board.


Soils are generally deficient in most major crop nutrients and further study of fertiliser
requirements is needed.

Soil conservation

In the face of active erosion, there is a need to take measures to encourage soil
conservation; these will largely comprise good crop management practices and simple
preventative measures.

Land tenure

No changes in the law relating to land tenure in rural areas is considered necessary at
present, but existing rights should be registered in preparation for a review of the law
towards the end of the period of the First National Development Plan.

Agricultural credit

One of the major needs for agricultural development will be the availability to the
farmer of credit for productive inputs. It is recommended that the most appropriate
agency for such credit is the cooperative movement, supported by the Agricultural
Development Division of the Gambia Commercial and Development Bank.

An attempt should be made to curb any monopolostic power traditional moneylenders

may possess,and excessive profit margins.


Of the 50 crops grown in The Gambia and discussed in Part 13 the following are
considered to have a potential for the period of the First National Development Plan:

Cereals — bulrush millet, maize, rice and sorghum

Fibre crops — cotton
Fruits — cashew, lime
Groundnuts — (oilseed and confectionery)
Roots — cassava
Vegetables — (tropical and temperate)


It is recommended that a policy of self-sufficiency in cereals should be adopted, based

principally on rice (irrigated and rainfed), sorghum, bulrush millet and maize.

Irrigated rice

The potential for increasing the area of double cropped rice is severely restricted by the
dry season availability of irrigation water. This situation could be ameliorated to some
extent by introducing new rice cultivars and by advancing the sowing date of the dry-
season crop to October/November.

The growing of irrigated rice as a cash crop should be encouraged.

An economic assessment of three different irrigated rice systems is described and

methods are identified for increasing gross margins per unit area and per man day; it is
important that these methods be adopted by growers as soon as possible. Selection of
suitable cultivars is required.

Rainfed rice

Improved methods of rainfed rice production in the areas described in Part 19 are


No improved cultivar of millet has yet been identified, but increases in yields per unit
area can be achieved by improved methods of production of existing cultivars. The
extension of these methods is recommended.


Several promising new cultivars have been identified. Field trials are recommended as a
preliminary to wider-scale adoption.


Sorghum is the most promising of the three major upland crops and a package of
improved methods should be adopted as a major extension activity.

Fibre crops


Cotton compared unfavourably with groundnuts from the economic viewpoint both of
the nation and the grower under production conditions in 1973 and 1974, but there is
an existing commitment to grow and process more cotton in The Gambia. Means whereby
the crop could become more attractive to the grower are suggested. There is an imperative
need to increase yields.


Groundnuts — oilseeds

Improved methods of production of oilseed groundnuts can increase yields per unit
area by as much as 50% compared with traditional methods. Although applying
these methods manually may not increase the gross margin per man day, it is recommended
that a substantial effort be made to encourage the adoption of the improved methods
on a wider scale and that where possible ox-drawn implements should be used.

Groundnuts — edible

Improved methods for the production of confectionery groundnuts in Western Division,

with the aim of eventually producing 10 0 0 0 1 of small kernels and 1 0 0 0 1 of large, are
recommended. The marketing of selected oilseed nuts (HPS) for the confectionery
trade should also continue.

Comparative economic analysis of cotton, groundnuts and irrigated rice

Although there are only limited areas in the country where the farmer has the option of
choosing between cotton, groundnuts (oilseed) and irrigated rice it is necessary (a) to
make a comparative economic analysis of the three at both national and compound level
and(b) toconsider the position now and over the next ten years. The analysis uses two
different methods:(a) gross margin analysis using actual prices and costs, and (b) shadow
price analysis using adjusted prices and costs.

The analyses lead to the following general recommendations:

1. Cotton should continue to be considered as a part of the diversification

programme, but it should be isolated as a separate element. The promotion of
other crops, such as groundnuts, should be restricted to non-cotton-growing
2. Producer pricing policies for cotton, groundnuts and irrigated rice should be
carefully reviewed

3. The degree and the probable effect of subsidisation of agricultural inputs,

especially fertiliser, should be examined

4. In the short-term, the introduction of cotton will probably have a negative

cost-benefit ratio and it is recommended that this should be counter-
balanced by a subsidy from the rest of the economy

5. Groundnut improvement projects using more intensive extension activity

should be introduced on a large scale

6. Social cost-benefit analyses of both groundnuts and irrigated rice should be

prepared as soon as possible



Cashew may have a potential in the western part of the country but in view of the
relatively high cost of the processing machinery, further information is needed on yields
before an economic assessment of the crop is possible. (The tree also has potential as a
provider of fuel wood).


Limes could be a useful subsidiary crop in the western part of the country, if the
question of processing and marketing the juice and oil are resolved.

Root crops


Gari production is likely t o be only marginally economic; the re-opening of the factory
should therefore be given a low priority.

Production of pellets and chips for sale as animal feeding stuffs in Europe would be
unattractive economically. Sun-dried chips may have a local role and there will also be
a continuing market for the fresh tubers.

Sugar cane

The role of sugarcane both as a source of sugar and as a fodder crop for cattle is
discussed and cultivar trials are recommended.


Several tropical and temperate vegetables are considered as cash crops and for home
consumption. Beans, onions, hot peppers, brinjal and okra have development potential.


Until recently exploitation of the country's natural woodland by both foreigners and
nationals has been wasteful. If national sources are t o meet future demands, action is
required regarding forest policy, law, government forest services, research and extension.

Forest policy

There is currently no stated government forest policy. In order to ensure that the
correct priorities are given to the various aspects of forestry development and that
guidelines are laid down for future planning a draft forest policy is presented (Part 2 1 ,
Recommendations for agricultural development).

Forest legislation

It is recommended that a specific Forest Law should be enacted which would extend
the present powers to protect and manage timber resources.

Forestry service

The present Forestry Division of the Department of Agriculture is inadequate to under-

take the tasks which will be required of it. It is therefore recommended that the
Division be expanded into a full Department.


Certain basic information needed for planning purposes is lacking. There is therefore an
urgent need for research into a number of matters which are listed.

Planting programme

If future national needs are to be met from local sources there will be a need for a
planting programme for fuelwood and timber. This is discussed.

Utilisation unit, Nyambai

Necessary improvements to the utilisation unit at Nyambai are described.

Rhun palm (Borassus aethiopum)

While a planting programme for rhun palm is not considered worthwhile, it is

recommended that existing stands should be conserved.


It is recommended that the stands of Rhizophora racemosa should not be exploited on

an industrial scale and that the areas of these species should be conserved.


More effective exploitation of existing wood resources and the development of village
woodlots through an extension programme are recommended.


Livestock, particularly cattle, are a major national asset which, up to the present, have
not been exploited adequately for the good of the country or the stock owner. Further,
if improvements in methods of production are not achieved, future national require-
ments for meat may not be met. It is recommended that priority should be given to
cattle and that a basic aim should be the abolition of the present practice of unregulated
pastoralism. If the required integration of crop and livestock husbandry is to be
achieved and the currently inadequate dry-season fodder resources are to be increased,
cattle should be herded over the village lands of their owners in order to exploit crop
residues and planted fallows. Such an area may include the land of several adjacent
villages for it is necessary that it should cover the full span of the landscape if seasonal
needs are to be met.


The improvements now being introduced in the marketing organisation are basic to
improved production.


The basic breed in The Gambia, the N'Dama, is pre-eminently suited to the conditions.
The lack of a breeding policy and the introduction of other breeds such as the Zebu and
the West African Shorthorn, have had deleterious effects on the national herd which
must be corrected by an extension programme including the periodic use of artificial
insemination to introduce improved N'Dama blood.


Improved extension work is the most fundamental need of all. A n extension programme
is reviewed.


The N'Dama is a poor milker and ideally all milk should go to the calf. A t present it
would be impossible to attempt to implement such a practice.

Animal husbandry and veterinary stations

The existing stations at Abuko and Yundum together with the proposed areas of 200
ha (500 ac) at Brikama and Yoro Beri Kunda should meet the needs of the Department
of Veterinary Services. Additional areas will be needed as holding grounds for the
Marketing Board.


Research needs are listed. The importance of considering the economics and
practicability of any proposed innovations is stressed.


A new form of cattle taxation is proposed.


Recommendations for the conservation of wildlife are considered on the assumption

that The Gambia would wish to coordinate its activities with those of neighbouring
countries, that conservation plans should be flexible so that changing circumstances
can be allowed for, and that it is desirable to solve problems by seeking a consensus of
opinion and in particular by obtaining the wholehearted support of the rural dweller.
On this basis it is recommended that:

1. A Conservation Authority be established. One of the first tasks of such an

Authority would be to draft appropriate legislation

2. The objectives of the New African Conservation Convention, to which The

Gambia is a signatory, should be approached on a step-by-step basis

3. The current role of wildlife in rural life and economics should be


4. The present protection Forest Parks should be considered as potential wild-

life conservation units. Initially Bama Kuno Forest Park might be developed
both for conservation purposes and the tourist trade

5. The conservation of the manatee and sitatunga should be accepted as a special

6. Up-to-date checklists of the country's flora and fauna should be obtained

7. Gambian schoolchildren should have free access to any conservation unit

8. No hunting by tourists and no sale of wild animal trophies should be

permitted until the Conservation Authority has established a system for
organising these activities


In addition to current extension methods it is strongly recommended that more intensive

systems should be employed in a Village Development Scheme. The reasons for this
and the methods t o be employed are described.

Part 3
Introduction t o studies of the physical

A knowledge of the physical environment is a prerequisite to logical development

planning. In Parts 4-12 the climate, hydrology, geology, geomorphology and soils of
The Gambia are described, and the implications of these factors for agricultural
development are discussed.

Existing data from The Gambia and, where relevant, from Senegal are incorporated into
the team's own findings. Climatic data exist in varying degrees of completeness for a
number of sites in The Gambia; these data are supplemented with records from
automatic weatherstations which were in operation during the course of the project.
Concurrently with the project, hydrological investigations were undertaken by a team
from Howard Humphreys and Sons; their findings are referred to in the discussion of
hydrology. Earlier work on the geology and geomorphology, mainly in adjacent areas
in Senegal, form the basis of the account of these aspects of the physical environment
of The Gambia.

The project was particularly concerned with an investigation into the characteristics
and distribution of the soils. Little information existed on the soils of The Gambia and
a reconnaissance survey of the whole country formed the basis of the soil studies. This
was followed by more detailed studies of some of the alluvial soils of higher potential,
of certain physical characteristics of the upland soils and of the finer pattern of soil
distribution within the main reconnaissance survey mapping units. A detailed investi-
gation into soil moisture was an important adjunct to more traditional soil studies in
an area where the amount and distribution of rainfall is such a basic constraint on

The attention of readers is drawn to Part 12 of this report, where the agricultural
significance of the various elements of the physical environment are discussed (p. 165).

Part 4

The dominant aspect of climate in The Gambia is the juxtaposition of five months
intense wet season with seven months dry season. A comprehensive analysis of the
whole West African climate by Cochemé and Franquin (1967) relates the structure of
local weather to the cyclical imbalance of the high pressure regions centred north and
south of the equator following the apparent passage of the sun. The Inter-Tropical
Convergence Zone (ITCZ), the boundary interaction of high pressure regions, advances
northwards several weeks behind the sun, and produces the atmospheric conditions
suitable for rainfall.

Climatic zones in this part of the world are very narrow. A greater change in vegetative
pattern occurs over a range 200 km (125 mi) north to south than 1 000 km (625 mi)
east t o west. Tropical rainforest becomes evident about 200 km (125 mi) south of The
Gambia and desert is reached within 300 km (190 mi) north.

In many respects, the climate of The Gambia is similar to that of northern Nigeria.
Kowal and Knabe (1972) have clearly shown the continuity of climate throughout
northern Nigeria, and in certain respects significant to agriculture the climate of The
Gambia is not very different from that of Samaru (near Zaria, northern Nigeria). This
is convenient as much agricultural research has been undertaken at the Institute for
Agricultural Research at Samaru, and many workers are familiar with its climate. Some
climatic data from Samaru are therefore included in this report.

That the climate in The Gambia (see Figures 1-4 and Text Map 2) is closer to that of
northern Nigeria, 2 500 km (1 560 mi) to the east, than to that experienced 250 km
(156 mi) north or south of The Gambia is important for purposes of climatic comparison,
and also as an indication of annual climatic variability. If the high pressure regions
governing the whole weather system change abnormally, the convergence zone either
may not advance sufficiently to ensure normal rainfall in The Gambia or by advancing
farther than normal may produce much additional rain. Thus there is liable to be greater
variability in rainfall than is usual outside the ITCZ. This different rate of longitudinal
and latitudinal change also explains why there are only small differences between
Yundum and Basse (250 km, 155 mi), but some significant vegetative differences within
some 30 km (19 mi) of the river.
Using relationships between rainfall characteristics at the start of the rainy season, the
total quantity of rainfall in a season and May or June rainfall totals further down the
coast (Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana), it may prove possible to predict the
seasonal rainfall pattern in The Gambia. From such predictions, suitable cropping
patterns could be adopted. Kowal and Knabe (1972) have clearly shown the gradual
progression through Nigeria of the first rains and there is evidence to suggest that the
timing and quantity of the early rains are related to the particular progression and
development of the ITCZ which affects the whole season over West Africa. Thus future
work may enable The Gambia and other more northern countries to have an indication
of the quality of rainy season to be expected by mid or late June, so that short or
long-season crops could be planted appropriate to the forecast.


ID •

9 -


7 -


2 •


FIGURE 1 Climatic parameters recorded at Yundum on 9 August 1 9 7 2 ,

a typical wet-season day


FIGURE 2 Climatic parameters recorded at Basse on 7 July 1973, a

typical wet-season day


FIGURE 3 Climatic parameters recorded at Yundum on 4 April 1 9 7 3 ,

a typical dry-season day



•20 50 -

• 16 40

12 30


• 4 10

1-0 0

FIGURE 4 Climatic parameters recorded at Basse on 27 February 1973,

a typical dry-season day

There are not enough data available at present from the whole of West Africa to settle
the controversy over whether the recent years of low rainfall in the region indicate a
climatic cycle with a current trend towards drought, or are merely random variations. If
there is a systematic decline in rainfall, much attention will have to be focussed on the
agricultural practices in Senegal, to the north of the Gambia where rainfall is usually
much less and the growing season is shorter.


Spatial distribution

Mean monthly and annual rainfall totals are shown in Table 2. The isohyets (Text Map 2)
indicate little east-west variation in rainfall except for a marked increase along the

While much of the rain falls from extensive atmospheric disturbance lines, on many
occasions, particularly at the beginning and end of the season, the rain falls in very
intense storms each only a few kilometres (1-2 mi) in diameter. When conditions are
appropriate many small storm cells move within quite short distances of each other.
Thus sites only a few kilometres apart may have very different rainfalls over short
periods. Measurement of rainfall at a particular location is therefore of limited value
for estimation of rainfall elsewhere and any agricultural experiment which is dependent
on rainfall should be gauged individually.

Table 2 Mean monthly and annual rainfall totals (in mm) from Gunjur in the west to Kristi Kunda in the east

Station Period Years* May June July Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Annual
1. Gunjur 1951-61 8 3 63 404 449 370 146 15 1 447

2. Kanifing 1951-57 7 7 66 324 412 366 100 27 1 303

3. Cape St. Mary 1926-37 20 3 87 295 520 306 83 16 1 311
4. Yundum Airport 1946-73 28 4 70 269 462 300 94 6 1 205

5. Abuko 1951-69 17 3 76 271 469 356 109 10 1 293

6. Brikama 1949-60 12 12 82 327 553 340 104 12 1 430
7. Banjul Marina 1886-1950 64 5 65 259 489 275 89 4 1 185

8. Banjul Half-die 1943-71 29 3 68 242 416 302 91 2 1 123

9. Bwiam 1945-63 18 4 84 260 375 297 102 4 1 126
10. Kerewan 1931-58 28 7 79 227 406 242 85 10 1 056
11. Massembe 1950-55 6 18 84 210 345 294 84 5 1 040
12. Mansa Konko 1951-67 16 7 27 236 327 299 93 4 992
13. Kaur 1950-63 8 9 66 187 336 211 110 6 926
14. Sapu 1956-62 7 4 124 203 319 204 81 1 935
15. Kuntaur 1949-66 18 12 102 228 335 225 86 2 990
16. Georgetown 1908-25 43 11 115 203 305 246 84 4 967
17. Yoro-Beri Kunda 1951-61 11 10 106 232 292 273 100 7 1 021
18. Bansang 1951-72 22 14 125 212 349 259 117 5 1 081

19. Diabugu 1951-60 10 25 109 209 378 249 117 20 1 105

20. Basse Santa Su 1942-72 26 19 127 209 338 242 90 10 1 035
21. Wuli 1926-53 27 24 157 215 322 260 96 10 1 082
22. Kristi Kunda 1949-60 12 17 128 210 322 306 81 2 1 067

* Some data are missing and dubious data were omitte 1

While in any particular year the overall average rainfall is determined by the position
and sharpness of definition of the frontal system, the random element of the storms
may cause a particular site to be drier than the mean for that site, when most stations
are wetter than their mean (Table 3). The distribution of rainfall within a season may
be of more direct agricultural relevance than the total rainfall.

16°30' 15°30' 15° 14°30' West of Greenwich

1 I


SCALE 1:750,000
Kilometres 0 5 10 20 30 40 Kilometres { SENEGAL\J
1 ' THE \ —_
Miles 0 10 20 Miles G A M B I A Iz->-^<i / MALI ^ ~ ^
~~~l r> UPPER
^-^ \ ƒ VOLTA
Divisional Headquarters D BISSAU/ GUINEA C^ / p-
Other towns o Project and International .A

Agricultural stations ''SIERRA \ )

O v/ / ^ 7 COAST / §

\VS (°
Miles 200 0 200 400 600 Miles

_ Kilometres 200 0 200 400 600 800 Kilometres



Bijol Is

16° Wesi of Greenwich 14°

D.O.S.3213B Prepared by Directorate of Overseas Surveys 1976


Land Soil
Meteoro- Profile pits
Location Resources water Infiltration Watertable Well depth
logical and
(from West to East) Division study sites observations measurements
stations raingauges sites* other works

Yundum + + +
Nyambai + (11) + +
Kabafita + + (10) + +
Massembe + + (5)
Bureng + + (5)
Choya + (5)
Sapu + + + + +
Georgetown + +
Mankamang Kunda + + (20) + + +
Sare Demba Dardoh + +
Mansajang Kunda + + +
Basse Santa Su + +
Sabi Yeli + + (14) + + +
Sabi + + (20) + + + +
Giroba Kunda + +(30) + + + +
Giroba Plateau + +(11) +
* Number of profiles at each location shown in brackets
TABLE 3 Annual rainfall totals expressed as a percentage of the long-term mean

Station 1951 1952 1953 1954 1957 1958 1959 1960

Cape St. Mary 111 102 72 138 87 172 - -
Yundum 123 116 104 121 118 154 95 91
Abuko 103 109 90 104 95 154 91 90
Banjul Half-die 114 122 99 110 87 144 96 104
Kerewan 104 115 67 97 79 120 - -
Kaur 124 113 114 115 - - - -
Georgetown 120 138 114 133 126 128 74 88
Diabugu 104 101 126 67 103 126 90 -
Basse Santa Su 116 113 100 90 114 122 94 96
Kristi Kunda 120 82 73 98 89 119 101 74

In Nigeria, Kowal and Knabe (1972) calculated that mean annual rainfall declines by 1.1
mm for every kilometre (0.027 in/mi) traversed in a northerly direction. In The Gambia,
away from the coast, annual rainfall seems to decline at 2.5-5 mm/km (0.06 - 0.12
in/mi) northwards. Within 20 km (12 mi) of the coast the gradient of annual rainfall
is about 1 5 - 2 0 mm/km (0.9 - 1.25 in/mi) increasing westwards.

Temporal distribution

The rainfall distribution is unimodal with the peak in August (Table 2). Daily values of
rainfall are available only for Yundum which makes detailed analysis of the length of
rainy season, stormy frequency, drought occurrence and selection of optimum planting
dates very difficult. Available data and local experience suggest that the rains begin
about 15 days earlier in the east of the country. However, October and November
rainfall totals throughout The Gambia suggest that the end of the wet season occurs
at about the same time throughout the country. This again conforms with local
experience; the first rainstorms are seen to move in from the east, gradually becoming
more frequent. Individual storms are often preceded by a few minutes of very strong
wind. A large proportion of the rain falls at night. Towards the end of the season
lightning often becomes spectacularbut the storms frequently deposit no rain and the
season may finish abruptly.

Data from Samaru, in northern Nigeria, show in Figure 5 an end to the wet season as
abrupt as at Yundum, but with a more skewed distribution and longer initial phase.
Thus, although the mean rainfall is of the order of 1 200 mm (47 in ) per annum at
Yundum compared with 1 100 mm (43 in) at Samaru, the growing season at Yundum
is likely to be about 40 days shorter due to a more peaked rainfall distribution.

As annual and monthly rainfall totals do not conform to the statistical 'normal'
distribution, a log-transformation was performed (Manning, 1950) in order to get an
estimate of rainfall reliability within the season. The mean 10%, 50%and 90% probab-
ilities of 10-day rainfall totals estimated for Yundum are shown in Figure 9. Assuming
the rainfall pattern were entirely random, then during any given 10-day period the
rainfall will be greater than the minimum (90%) line 9 years in 10, and greater than
the maximum (10%) line 1 year in 10. However, the dominance of the weather by the
large scale convergence zone will tend to reduce the independence of each period and
wet or dry weather may persist during which calculated probabilities will not apply.

The weather of a day when a disturbance line (as defined by Cochemé and Franguin,
1967) passes Basse, giving high winds and a heavy intense downpour followed by hours
of light drizzle, is shown in Figure 2. In Figure 1 the weather is probably that of the
more common wet-season day in which convection resulting from high incidence of
radiation during the morning leads to a brief storm after mid-day.

Station Mean annual rainfall Recorded

; Yundum 1205 mm 1946-1973

Samaru 1103 mm 1928-1969


I r-J
L _ J L_

_ , r - -." 1- -

_ J
_ s

._ J

. _ X'

_i L J 1_
Jarr Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Dec c
FIGURE & Mean ten-day totals of rainfalt3at Yundum (1946-73), The Gambia, and Samaru ( 1 9 2 8 - 6 9 ) , Northern Nigeria m

Information on rainfall intensity was obtained from the automatic weather station (AWS)
raingauges which measured rainfall in 5 minute periods. These data suggest that the
distributions of quantity and intensity per storm are similar to those encountered in
northern Nigeria (Kowal, 1970 and 1974; Cochemé and Franquin, 1967) where mean
peak intensity of all storms over 5 years was 1.2 mm (0.05 in ) per minute, though rates
of up to 5 mm (0.2 in ) per minute are not uncommon (Kowal 1971). This was confirmed
by timing the passage of storms and measuring the quantity of rainfall, which indicated
that much rain fell at a rate of about 1 mm(0.04 in) per minute. Rainfall intensity is an
important element in the wetting of soil, the storage of soil moisture and soil erosion.
If the rainfall intensity exceeds the infiltration rate, much water may be wasted in


Evaporation is the process by which water is changed to water vapour under the influence
of climatic factors. It is measured in terms of the quantity or rate of evaporation from
an open-water surface and is designated E 0 . When evaporation takes place from the wet
surfaces of a combination of soil and plants the process is termed evapotranspiration
and designated E t . The conversion requires energy in the form of radiant and/or
advective heat and ambient air with moisture absorbtive capacity. Potential E 0 or E t
is the maximum possible with given levels of the affecting variables.

Assuming the same hours of bright sunshine are received at Yundum and Basse (see
section on Radiation) variation in E 0 can be only due to differences in the other
variables which have a smaller effect, that is, temperature, vapour pressure and wind
(Penman, 1948 and 1963). Their calculated effect on evapotranspiration is shown in
Table 4 and by the solid line plots in Figure 6. This figure also shows the difference
between evaporation from Class A pan evaporimeters at the two sites to be as large
as the substantial difference of the pan values from the calculated values. The former
difference is largely due to differences in advective energy at the two sites for which
no adjustment is made. The latter difference is characteristic of evaporation pans which
cannot properly represent 'open water' which is assumed to be unlimited in extent.
The limited data plotted in Figure 7 shows the Meteorological Office (MO) sunken pan
to be little, if any, improvement over the Class A pan during the dry season though
possibly better during the wet season. Pan measurements, however, are unreliable in
rainy periods unless it is known that extreme care has been used in correcting rainwater

Calculated crop evapotranspiration E t (shown in Figure 8), assuming an albedo of 0.25,

shows that the maximum use of water by irrigated crops would be in March to June with
a relatively constant evapotranspiration rate of about 3.5 mm (0.14 in ) per day through-
out the wet season. The data fit in satisfactorily with Cochemé and Franquin's (1967)
analysis for West Africa and Kowal and Knabe's (1972) Nigerian agroclimatological
framework, E t at Yundum being very similar to that at Samaru throughout the year.

Figure 9 shows mean rainfall and potential evapotranspiration at Yundum, indicating

that there is a 3 month period when mean rainfall is greater than mean evapotranspiration
though the 90% rainfall probability indicates that in many years there will be 10-day
periods with inadequate rainfall during the growing season, when the crops have t o
survive on soil water reserves. This is discussed further in the soil water section. A t
Samaru mean rainfall exceeds potential evapotranspiration for 4 months each year,
giving a significantly longer growing season.


I 1

~~Class A Pan Basse

_ J

Class A Pan Yundum

L _ J I L_


Eo Yundum
I ! - + --. oa
LU G \ I I t- Mo

\ U
- 1 I
Eo Basse |L —
l_f-} I
_ J
1 _ J


Feb Apr May Aug Sep Nov Jan Feb Apr May Jul Aug Sep 3J
FIGURE 6 Comparison of evaporation at Yundum and FIGURE 7 Comparison of Penman potential evaporation (/)
Basse: Short-term class A pan measurements (IEo. best available data) w i t h measured mean
with Penman Eo calculated from selected evaporation from Meteorological Office tank qp
meteorological data evaporimeter ( M 0 , 1 9 6 0 - 7 4 ) at Yundum

— Samaru

A Penman E(
o Aerodynamic component
* Energy component

6 -

/ \

rjl I : I 1 I I I I I I I 1 I
Jan Feb Mil Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

FIGURE 8 Penman ( E t ) estimates of crop evapotranspiration at Yundum and Basse, The Gambia,
compared with Samaru, Northern Nigeria. Note that the relationship between the
aerodynamic and energy components of E\ varies considerably w i t h the occurrence of
the wet and dry seasons


FIGURE 9 Estimated minimum ten-day rainfall totals at Yundum at levels of 10%, 50%, and 9 0 %
probability based on 28 years of records (1 9 4 6 - 7 3 ) . Note that evapotranspiration is
equal to or less than the mean rainfall during July, August and September

TABLE 4 Tabulation of calculated evaporation (by Penman's method) for open water (E„) and a short grass cover (E t ) together with
the variables used

Observation/calculation Station J F M A M J J A S o N D Total


Mean daily sunshine hours Yundum 9.0 9.2 9.9 10.2 9.8 8.3 6.5 5.4 6.3 7.7 8.5 8.6

Mean temperature, C Yundum 23.2 24.6 25.5 25.5 25.8 27.1 26.7 26.1 26.4 26.7 25.6 23.3

Basse 24.7 27.3 29.2 31.4 32.3 29.9 27.8 26.9 27.2 28.2 27.5 24.7

Mean vapour Hg Y u n d u m 10.0 9.8 12.5 12.3 15.8 18.8 19.3 19.9 20.6 21.2 13.1 10.3

Basse. 6.5 6.7 8.7 10.9 16.1 20.4 21.3 22.0 20.0 18.0 14.6 6.8

Mean daily w i n d r u n , k m Yundum 95 105 115 130 125 115 105 85 65 55 85 90

Basse 45 50 55 65 85 60 60 50 40 30 30 33

E Q : Penman openwater Yundum 4.2 5.1 5.7 6.3 6.2 5.5 4.7 4.2 4.4 4.4 4.0 3.9 1 780
potential evaporation, m m
per day Basse 3.3 4.0 5.1 5.9 7.1 5.8 4.7 4.1 4.4 4.4 4.0 3.1 1 700

E t : Penman evapotrans- Yundum 3.4 3.8 4.5 4.9 4.8 4.4 3.8 3.3 3.5 3.5 3.3 3.2 1 422
piration for short green Basse 2.9 3.6 4.4 5.0 5.6 4.6 3.8 3.3 3.6 3.7 3.4 2.7 1 420
crop, m m per day
Samaru 3.9 4.0 4.9 5.1 5.1 4.2 3.6 3.3 3.6 . 4.0 3.6 3.5 1 462

It must be noted that E 0 and E t are potential rates, calculated for open-water surfaces
and complete canopies of short green crops respectively, both with adequate water
supply. Bare soil and incomplete crop covers will not evaporate water at the above
rates, except for short periods after rainfall. Some work undertaken in The Gambia
during the dry season suggested that water evaporated from bare soil at about the
potential rate for only one or two days and declined to less than 1 mm (0.04 in ) per
day shortly afterwards.

Note that calculations of potential evaporation were made from the best available data.
The composite estimate produced approximates to mean annual potential evaporation.
Sunshine hours and temperature data from 1949 to 1974 were meaned. Vapour
pressure deficit and wind speed were derived from the automatic weather station data
of 1972-73, with some historic confirmatiom.


Mean monthly solar radiation is not expected to vary much over The Gambia. A
comparison of bright sunshine hours at Yundum and at Samaru (Figure 10, Table 5)
indicates only small differences on a monthly basis. The harmattan obscures more sun
at Samaru than Yundum, hence the differences in March - May, and apparently Samaru
has more sunshine in October and November which will benefit harvests and crop
drying there. Only the March - May difference is statistically significant.

Gunn-Bellani radiation measurements are better than hours of sunshine for estimating
the radiative energy received, though the length of records at Yundum and Basse are
too short for statistical analysis. The mean monthly differences between Yundum and
Basse seem to be in the same order as the monthly variation at Yundum (Figure 11).
This would suggest no systematic difference between Yundum and Basse. Figure 12
compares the monthly means of the solar radiation and net radiation data obtained from
the automatic weather station at Yundum with the values computed by Cochemé and
Franquin (1967) from extraterrestial radiation. The agreement is good for solar
radiation but poor for net radiation, probably due to lack of vegetative ground cover.

TABLE 5 Mean daily sunshine hours and related data at Yundum, The Gambia and at Samaru, Northern Nigeria

J F M A M J J A S 0 N D


Possible hours 11.4 11.7 12.1 12.4 12.7 12.9 12.8 12.5 12.2 11.8 11.5 11.4
bright sunshine
Mean observed 9.0 9.2 9.9 10.2 9.8 8.3 6.5 5.4 6.3 7.7 8.5 8.6
hours bright
sunshine (n)

Standard deviation 0.6 0.7 0.5 0.5 0.7 0.6 0.8 0.9 0.7 0.9 0.7 0.8
Gunn Bellani 490 535 555 560 525 495 445 430 480 480 450 465
calories/cm /day
Ratio observed 0.8 0.8 0.8 0.8 0.8 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8
t o possible hours
bright sunshine


Mean observed 8.7 9.6 8.9 8.0 8.3 7.8 6.2 4.9 6.8 9.4 9.8 9.1
riuurs bright
sunshine (1954-71
Standard deviation 0.7 0.5 0.7 0.6 0.9 0.6 0.5 1.2 0.6 0.6 0.5 0.5

The important aspects for agriculture are the minima and the maxima. The December-
January radiation minimum (400 cal/cm2/day) is not less than the wet season minimum
when crops grow quite satisfactorily. Thus radiation levels are perfectly satisfactory for
12-month crop production. Were water to be freely available, some crops with high
photosynthetic capacity might benefit from a growing season planned to use maximum
radiation. Temperature and harvesting conditions must also be taken into account.

The reduction in total solar radiation by clouds (also expressed in lower sunshine hours)
during the wet season is shown in Figures 1-4. The small effect of the harmattan dust
in The Gambia is not evident. Higher mid-day solar radiation intensities in the dry
season do not differentiate between direct and diffuse radiation. The reduced net
radiation in the dry season probably indicates back radiation from soil of greater
surface temperatures, and the increased back radiation during dry season nights is
clearly evident, particularly at Basse.


Air temperature

There is considerable variation in air temperature regime throughout The Gambia. In

the west the Atlantic Ocean moderates the temperature and diurnal variation. Inland
the diurnal variation and seasonal variation is more extreme than that experienced at
Samaru and quite similar to that in the most northerly latitudes of Nigeria (Sokoto,

FIGURES 1 0 & 1 1

I l
P---I ' 11
, ' '
- - L_


Yundum 1949-74
Samaru 1954-71

L — _i

i i i i i 1 1
Jan Mar Apr May Aug Sap Oct Dec

FIGURE 10 Mean daily sunshine hours for each month at Yundum, The Gambia, and at
Samaru, Northern Nigeria

Yundum 1970-73
Basse 1973

i 20 o
E 3
500 Q.
— 1 _



Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

FIGURE 11 Mean daily Gunn-Bellani radiation measurements for each month at Yundum and Basse


Measured Gunn-Bellani radiation (1970-73)

Measured solar radiation (1973)

20 Calculated global radiation



Calculated atmospheric radiation

12 700

600 ó
500 « .

O 400 g-

Measured net radiation, daylight hours (1973)


Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Dec

FIGURE 12 Calculated and observed radiation at Yundum



A»3 S°P °" °" °"
Mai AP'

FIGURE , 3 C o r s o n rf « - - - ^ - . - A ' A 'SS

St. Mary on the coast)

Some monthly means of daily maximum and minimum temperature, are shown in
Figure 13 and Table 6. A t Cape St. Mary on the coast, the wet season is hotter than
the dry season, with small daily temperature range (<10°C, 18°F) and relatively low
maximum temperatures. Yundum has a larger diurnal range (7-17°C, 13-31°F) but
with very moderate maxima, due to the cool sea breezes. Kaur, Sapu, Georgetown,
Diabugu and Basse have large daily ranges (10-20°C, 18-36°F) with a distinct hot period
in March, April and May, much cooler wet season, and cold nights in the dry season.
TABLE 6 Mean monthly temperature (°C): maximum, minimum and average of the two means

Station Period of J F M A M J J A s o N D

1. Mean monthly maximum temperature

Cape 1926-36 28.3 27.7 27.6 27.4 27.6 30.1 29.8 29.3 30.0 30.6 30.4 28.8
St. Mary 1951-58
Yundum 1949-74 31.9 33.0 33.8 32.7 31.7 31.7 30.3 29.6 30.5 31.6 32.3 31.2
Kaur 1951-60 35.8 37.9 39.6 40.9 40.4 38.7 33.9 34.3 33.5 34.5 35.9 35.1
Sapu 1952-60 33.3 35.5 38.4 39.7 39.1 35.8 32.0 31.0 32.3 34.1 34.3 32.6
Georgetown 1950-66 34.6 37.0 39.4 39.9 39.3 35.5 31.8 31.0 31.7 33.2 34.9 33.6
Diabugu 1951-60 35.6 37.5 39.6 40.4 40.7 37.1 33.3 32.1 32.0 33.2 35.0 34.3
Basse 1950-74 34.9 37.6 39.8 40.9 40.7 36.4 32.8 31.6 32.4 33.6 35.0 33.8

2. Mean monthly minimum temperature

Cape 1926-36 18.2 18.4 18.9 19.8 21.0 23.4 23.5 23.2 23.3 23.3 22.2 19.4
St. Mary 1951-58
Yundum 1949-74 15.0 16.3 17.1 18.3 19.9 22.7 23.2 22.9 22.7 22.0 18.9 16.0
Kaur 1951-60 15.3 16.5 18.2 19.7 21.8 22.7 22.4 22.0 22.1 22.2 19.0 17.2
Sapu 1952-60 13.5 15.5 16.9 19.4 21.9 22.8 22.2 22.5 22.4 21.9 19.2 14.5
Georgetown 1950-60 14.9 17.2 18.9 20.9 23.6 24.0 23.4 23.0 22.8 22.7 19.4 15.1
Diabugu 1951-60 14.7 16.7 19.0 21.0 22.3 23.1 22.5 22.5 22.4 22.4 20.5 15.0
Basse 1950-74 14.5 17.0 18.6 21.8 24.0 23.4 22.8 22.1 22.1 22.7 20.0 15.6

3. Average of mean minimum and maximum monthly temperature

Cape 1926-36 23.2 23.1 23.2 23.6 24.3 26.7 26.6 26.2 26.6 26.9 26.3 24.1
St. Mary 1951-58
Yundum 1949-74 23.2 24.6 25.5 25.5 25.8 27.1 26.7 26.1 26.4 26.7 25.6 23.3
Kaur 1951-60 25.6 27.2 28.9 30.8 31.1 30.7 28.1 28.1 27.8 28.3 27.5 26.1
Sapu 1952-60 23.4 25.5 27.6 29.6 30.5 28.9 27.1 26.7 27.4 28.0 26.7 23.5
Georgetown 1950-60 24.7 27.1 29.1 30.4 31.4 29.7 27.6 27.0 27.3 28.0 27.1 24.3
Diabugu 1951-60 25.2 27.1 29.3 30.7 31.5 30.1 27.9 27.3 27.2 27.8 27.8 24.7
Basse 1950-74 24.7 27.3 29.2 31.4 32.3 29.9 27.8 26.9 27.2 28.2 27.5 24.7

Standard deviation of mean monthly maximum (1) and mean monthly minimum (2) at Yundum

1. 1.2 1.6 1.3 1.7 1.1 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.7 0.9
2. 1.1 0.9 0.7 1.0 1.1 0.7 0.4 0.3 0.4 0.8 1.2 1.2

Temperatures of air and soil directly affect crop growth and yield. Kowal and Knabe
(1972; after J H Chang, 1968) differentiate cool-season crops (wheat, barley, etc) from
hot-season crops (sugar cane, sorghum, millet, cotton, etc). The coastal environment
is best suited to the growth of cool-season crops at all times of the year. A t Yundum
the air may get too hot in February, March and April for optimal cool-season
production, and is cooler than optimal for hot-season crops throughout the year.
Further east, the December to February nights are too cold for efficient production
of hot-season irrigated crops, and the days are too hot for cool-season crops from
February to May. Although growth rates will be reduced by non-optimal environments,

this may not be evident from crop yields owing to the effect of other more deleterious
factors. Thus larger cotton and sorghum yields would be expected in Upper River
Division from wet-season temperature considerations alone, but the effect is probably
masked by other factors such as rainfall distribution or level of husbandry.

Growing degree-days

Between the limits of about 10°C and 45°C (50°F and 113°F) the rate of growth of
cotton increases with environment temperature (McMahon and Low, 1972). The sum
of (T — 10) x N (T= monthly mean daily temperature in °C, usually taken as
/2(T m a x + T m j n ) : N = no. of days in month) gives the growing degree-days per month.
This value can be used to compare areas to obtain some idea of the suitability of the
temperature for growing cotton. Over a standard growing season (June - December for
The Gambia) the growing degree-day totals for Basse and Georgetown (3 700), and
Yundum (3 400) would appear to be similar to those for much of West Africa and
among the highest observed in the main cotton growing areas of the world (Table 7)
and certainly superior to many very successful cotton growing environments. The
benefit in greater degree-days which results from early planting is vitiated by limited
water availability.

The error in estimating mean daily temperature by V2 ( T m a x + T m j n ) , which probably

over-estimates the true mean by about 2°C, is small compared with the smoothing
effect on temperature variation of measurements made in a Stevenson screen.

Detailed data for selected typical days (Figures 1-4) show some interesting phenomena.
The 5°C (9°F) drop in temperature with the rain at Yundum in the daytime and the
similar drop at Basse in the night rainstorm are clearly distinguished. The temperature
rise of 2.5°C (4.5°F) at Yundum at 03.00 hours in the dry-season day (Figure 3) is
associated with a large increase in windspeed and a 3.5°C (6.3°F) decrease in wet
bulb temperature, indicating a warm dry air mass moving through the night from the
south. The high dry-season temperatures at Yundum on this day were exceptional and
possibly due to a recession of the harmattan with the air movement from the south.

TABLE 7 Some growing degree-days for a seven-month cotton growing season (from McMahon and Low, 1972,
with Gambian data added)

Country Centre Growing degree-days

Australia Kimberley 4 364

India Ludhiana 4 097
USA Yuma 3 984
The Gambia Basse 3 700
Syria Deir-ez-Zor 3 658
Sudan Gezeira 3 556
Mozambique Tete 3 515

Soil temperature

Measurements of soil temperature at Yundum were taken at 30 cm (1 ft) and 120 cm

(4 ft) depth. The mean monthly temperatures suggest that the soil is always warmer
at 120 cm than 30 cm depth. This is unlikely to be true, particularly in February to
May when the soil temperatures are increasing. A t this time of the year comparable soil
temperature data from Samaru indicate a net downward heat flux. The time lag of
diurnal soil temperature changes is quite considerable (approx. 6 hours) at 30 cm, and it
would seem that one reading a day (9 am) is inadequate for obtaining a reasonable
estimate of mean daily temperature.

The progressive cooling of the soil through the wet season will cause some reduction
in growth rate, so late planted crops will grow more slowly than early planted crops.
However, this might be compensated by tissue damage to early crops associated with
short rainless periods early in the wet season when the soil surface heats up excessively.


Vapour pressure usually changes little over 24 hours, though there may be fluctuations
during the day due to rain and air movement. Figures 14-16 show the fluctuations of
the temperature and temperature deficit over the 'typical' wet and dry season days at
Yundum, and the consequent changes in vapour pressure, saturated vapour pressure
and relative humidity. The effects of the rainstorm between 12.00 + and 14.00 hours
at Yundum on 9 August, 1972 and the hot dry air mass that blew through Yundum
from 04.00 to 06.00 hours on 4 April, 1973, are particularly clear.

The relative humidity varies considerably over the day without major change in vapour
pressure and thus is not a clear statement of atmospheric moisture content. The
monthly variation in vapour pressure (see Table 8) shows the expected decrease of
water vapour in the dry season, though without much difference between Yundum and
Basse. Standard meteorological readings of temperature and temperature depression
show the same general pattern as the automatic weather stations, but have much greater
fluctuations in vapour pressure through the day. This is probably due to the less frequent
sarnpiing oi stänuaru uatä and to tue dinerent tnerrriai anci urauyni criaractenslics or
the Stevenson screen and the automatic weather station installation.

TABLE 8 Mean monthly vapour pressure (mm Hg) at Yundum and Basse. (Data obtained from automatic weather
station readings over one year)

Station J F M A M J J A S 0 N D

Yundum 7 9 11 12 17 19 19 20 21 21 13 8
Basse 6 7 8 11 16 20 21 22 20 18 15 7


Very limited wind data are available from the meteorological records. Mean wind run
estimates from 1 year's automatic weather station data are shown in Table 9 with the
percentage of wind blowing during the daylight hours. From some historic Yundum
airport records, estimated mean wind speed at Yundum is 8.7 km/h (5.4 mi/h). This
was based on instantaneous windspeeds recorded at about 10 m (33 ft), and is not in
conflict (see Figure 17) with the one-year estimate of mean daylight wind speed of
8.3 km (5.2 mi)/hr at Yundum, and 4.2 km (2.6 mi)/hr at Basse. Cochemé and
Franquin (1967) also indicate a wind-speed gradient declining away from the coast,
with quoted speeds comparable with those observed at Yundum.

It would seem that windmill pumping of water from wells is a possibility for some areas
in The Gambia. Windmills work satisfactorily in winds of 9 km (5.6 mi)/hr (or 200 km
(125 mi) wind run per day) or more. The wind runs during the 'typical' days, shown
in Figures 1-4, reflect the considerable dry season differences between Yundum and
Basse, as well as the predominant influence that radiation and daytime effects have on
local wind speed. There would seem to be some possibility of using wind power at
Yundum in the dry season, though large water storage tanks would be necessary for
continuous supply as the winds are unreliable. In 1973, during February, March and
April (the most promising months, water supply permitting), thewind would have
pumped for 9, 10% and 12 hours per day on average respectively, with wind speeds in
excess of 9 km (5.6 mi)/hr, producing 270 I (59 gal) per hour from 30 m (98 ft) depth
using a 3 m (10 ft) diameter wind mill. Assuming a cow uses 20 I (4.4 gal) per day, one
needs one hour's pumping per day to supply 13 cows. Thus 100 cows will need one
mill, which would cost approximately D4 000. Larger windmills are more efficient

FIGURES 1 4 & 1 5

Dry Season (4.4.73)


Wet Season

Dry Season (4.4.73)

~T 1 1 1 i r-
1 2 3 4 5 6 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 IB 19 20 21 22 23 0
FIGURE 14 Diurnal changes in temperature and w e t - b u l b temperature
depression at Yundum on the wet and dry season days
shown in Figures 1 and 3

Wet Season (9.8.72)

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

FIGURE 1 5 Diurnal change in relative humidity at Yundum on the wet and

dry season days shown in Figures 1 and 3



FIGURE 16 Diurnal change in vapour pressure and saturated vapour pressure

at Yundum on the wet and dry season days shown in Figures 1
and 3


Basse automatic weather station data 1973

Yundum automatic weather station data 1973
Yundum wind run from spot wind speeds 1949-56

i 1

r— —
I 1
I Hi

I -,

_ _ J

1 -2

r f I
•O 80-

"E 1 t
1 I
I •o
C 2.
i —

i i

i _ . _.
• '
. _i 1
i -1


L r—


• i i , i i i i i _
Apr May Jun Aug Sep Oct Nov Due

FIGURE 17 Monthly means of daily wind-run data; wind runs measured during
hours of daylight only

and an increase in diameter produces a more than proportionate increase in output.
From the same depth, a 9 m (30 ft) diameter windmill would have approximately 20
times the output for only about a tenfold increase in cost. When water tables are high
and shallower wells are available, much more water can be drawn without any increase
in pumping effort: when the depth of water pumped is halved the output is doubled.

TABLE 9 Wind run in kilometres, Yundum, Basse, one year's data. Brackets indicate doubtful values (87 km in
24 hours is equivalent to an average wind speed of 1 metre per second)

Station J F M A M J J A S o N D Annual


Average w i n d 137 178 177 197 (206) 176 148 124 89 74 65 (128) 136
run in 24 hours
Average w i n d 95 105 115 130 (125) 115 105 85 65 55 53 (90) 100
run in day-
light hours
Daylight % of 70 65 65 65 60 65 70 70 75 75 80 70 65

Average w i n d 50 59 69 80 169 110 99 (70) (50) 39 37 35 72
run in 2 4 hours
Average w i n d 45 50 55 65 85 60 60 (50) (40) 30 30 33 50
run ip daylight
Daylight % of 90 85 80 80 50 55 60 70 80 75 80 95 70

Aquifer supply should be about 5 m^/hr/m (0.15 cu/sec/ft) of water (United Nations,
1973) and this supply rate is greater than probable pumping rates from wells that
penetrate the aquifer. Wind-pump lifting of water also may prove economic for small-
scale irrigation schemes.

Part 5

A study of the hydrology of the project area was included in a United Nations
Development Programme Special Fund Project (REG 60) study of the whole of the
Gambia River Basin which was carried out during the period May 1972 — June 1974.
The draft final report oh the work of this study, entitled 'Hydrological and topo-
graphical studies of the Gambia River Basin' was issued in late 1974 (United Nations
Development Programme, 1974b). The consulting engineers responsible for the
project, Howard Humphreys & Sons, also carried out a subsidiary study of the
groundwater potential of The Gambia. This was a preliminary study of six months'
duration and the report, entitled 'The Gambia provinces groundwater study'(UNDP,
1974a) was issued in May 1974. This section of the present report is therefore largely
a summary and interpretation of the data presented in those two UN reports which
are relevant to the present study.


The river rises in mountainous country in Guinea, meanders through Senegal and
discharges into the Atlantic at Banjul after passing through the length of The Gambia.
There are no major tributaries within The Gambia; the majority of the wet season
flow originates in Guinea with considerable additions from Senegal and only a small
contribution (if not a net loss by flooding from the river) from The Gambia. The UNDP
hydrological survey (1974b) indicates that in most years wet season flows in the river
as it enters The Gambia exceed 1 000 m3 per sec(m^/s; 35 000 cusec) for several
weeks with a maximum observed flow of 2 160 m^/s (76 000 cusec) (in 1961). The
mean peak flow over 10 years is about 2 040 rrß/s (72 000 cusec). Maximum recorded
monthly flow occurred in September 1955 when the mean flow rate was 1 930 m 3 /s
(68 000 cusec). Flow in the dry season when much of the upper reaches of the river in
Senegal and Guinea is completely dry is always low; it declined t o below 3 m^/s (100
cusec) towards the end of the season in 1973 (see Table 10). It should be noted that
summer rainfall was below average in 1972 and 1973, when the LRD team was working
in The Gambia and wet season river flows were well below average. The August and
September flows of 450 m^/s (16 000 cusec) in 1972 were the lowest of the 20-year
record. Thus, some observations made in the alluvial areas may be of abnormal

The river is tidal throughout the length of the country (which makes dry season net
flow the small difference between two much larger tidal flows) with considerable
saline intrusion in the dry season. A t the height of the wet season the salt/freshwater
mixing zone may be located near Kerewan (70 km, 44 mi, upstream from Banjul). As
the flood declines, this zone moves up the river as a result of diffusion, tidal mixing
and mass flow, at an observed rate of 15-20 km (9-13 mi) per month, t o between Kaur
and Kuntaur.

T A B L E 10 Discharge measurements of the Gambia River at G o u l o m b o and
Fass on selected dates in 1972/74

Date Site Discharge Date Site Discharge

1972 31.10 1 118.0

3.11 1 137.0 9.11 1 86.6
28.11 1 57.7 12.12 2 25.8
14.12 1 40.9
28.12 1 29.6 1974
17.1 2 12.5
1973 13.2 2 6.7
30.1 1 17.2 23.2 2 5.8
15.2 1 14.2 13.4 2 2.6
1.3 2 5.8 13.5 o 1 e
17.3 2 4.2 6.6 2 1.83
30.3 2 3.1 21.6 53.8
21.4 2 2.5 13.7 229.0
24.5 2 2.6 30.7 490.0
24.7 1 52.8 10.8 758.0
3.8 1 543.0 21.8 1 010.0
18.8 1 891.0 31.8 1 220.0
28.8 1 915.0 11.9 1 128.0
18.9 1 882.0 3.10 1.104.0
30.9 1 345.0 22.10 534.0
18.10 1 196.0 20.11 109.0

Site 1 : Goulombo. Site 2: Fass

Discharge measured in m^/sec (x 35.31 = cusec)

UNDP (1974b), using a salt-concentration criterion of 1 part per 1 000, determined

the maximum intrusion to be just short of Kuntaur (247 km from Banjul by river) in
1973. Studies to date indicate that the extent of wet season flushing of salt is not as
important for saline intrusion in the dry season as is the length of dry season.

Extraction of freshwater up-river of the saline limit (here assumed to be 1 part per
1 000) for irrigation during the dry season will cause the salt water to move further up
the river, with potentially disastrous consequences for present irrigation schemes in
the Kaur-Kuntaur area. Calculations indicate that 1 nrw/s (35 cusec) continuous
extraction above Kuntaur throughout the dry season will move the saline mixing zone
up-river by approximately 1 km (0.6 mi) / month, depending on the volume of the
river at the position of the mixing zone and the rate of inflow from upstream. 1 m^/s
(35 cusec) continuous extraction of water is adequate for growing one crop of rice
over an area of about 590 ha (1 460 ac). Present irrigation of rice extends to 2 000 ha
with plans of expansion to 4 000 ha (10 000 ac) by 1980. Thus there will probably be
some change in the pattern of saltwater intrusion in the near future and as much larger
areas are exploited for their irrigation potential, a system of controlling the advance of
the saltwater will be essential. One possibility for river control is the continuous
release of quite substantial quantities of water, held back from the wet season by
suitable structures in the upper reaches of the river. Work by the Hydraulics Research
Station (1972) and Sanmuganathan (quoted in UNDP, 1974b) indicates that 25 m 3 /s
(880 cusec) flowing through the dry season would hold critical salinity level below
Kaur (190 km (120 mi) from Banjul) and 1 5 0 m 3 / s (4 850 cusec) would hold it well
below Mansakonko (110 km (69 mi) from Banjul).The potential suitability and cost-
effectiveness of dam systems capable of releasing such flows as are required for salinity
control and of providing large quantities of irrigation water are presently under debate
(UNDP, 1974b), in the context of full river control and hydroelectric power production.
One alternative to such dam systems is a barrage in the lower river to restrict the tidal
and saline reach of the river. An investigation of the technical and economic feasibility
of a barrage/road bridge combined at Yelitenda on the Trans-Gambian highway is
being considered. While upstream storage within the river channel alone will be
sufficient for large-scale irrigation schemes, problems of extreme flood flow may be
prohibitive to such a scheme. Ecological and health hazards associated with changing
a dynamic tidal estuary into a still lake must be seriously considered.

After 7-8 months of dry season and prior to the onset of rain-in The Gambia the
river is known to flood areas of alluvium in MacCarthy Island Division. Local people
regard this as a sign of impending rain. It is not known how much of the area is
affected in this manner and if this is caused by the annual high tides and steady
westerly winds observed on the coast. There was no increased flow in the river at Fass,
Senegal until many weeks after the observed flooding in early May 1973.


Damming of bolons, tributaries to the river in The Gambia, has occasionally been
suggested to keep out salt water and retain fresh water for subsequent irrigation of
crops on adjacent soils. However, there seems to be no suitable site. The Bintang Bolon,
which is the largest tributary in The Gambia, is completely surrounded by saline and
acid or potentially acid soils, leaving very little soil suitable for irrigation. Nianiji Bolon,
above Kaur on the north bank, is much smaller, would hold little water and would be
of very restricted use on the limited soil available in the area. In Senegal, on the Bao
Bolon (a north bank tributary of the River Gambia),a dam was built to keep saline
water out of Senegal, and provide water for irrigation (Bertrand, 1971). Apparently
the project was a notable failure due to irregular water supply, considerable areas
of problem soils and the impossibility of draining lands lying so low and sometimes below
sea level (Charreau et al, 1966). Using bolons for irrigation supply is therefore not
recommended, except on a small scale.


The United Nations Development Programme (1974a) study of groundwater within

The Gambia concluded that there was no simple overall aquifer system, and because
many wells extended far below river level before reaching water, the river level could
not be closely related to groundwater levels. The alluvial soils have a high silt and clay
content, low hydraulic conductivity and the slopes on which they occur are very
gentle. Thus it is not very surprising that water levels observed in the alluvial soils do
not always reflect river levels.

Annual variation in well-water level varied by 1-3 metres (3-10 ft). From a peak in the
middle of the wet season, water level declined steadily through the dry season. The
wells measured were used daily for water supply. It is not known what the behaviour
of untapped wells would be.

Mean rainfall exceeds potential evaporation in July, August and September by about
500 mm (20 in) at Yundum and 400 mm (16 in) at Basse. Consumption of this water
while stored in the soil will vary from 100 mm (4 in) for an annual crop to 300 mm
(12 in) for a fully developed tree cover on deep soil. Thus under natural vegetation
100-200 mm (4-8 in) of water per year would reach the groundwater, increasing to
300-400 mm (12-16 in) under permanent agriculture with no surface runoff. The hard
dense soils only have about 10-15% specific yield, which, with the fall in well-water
level through the year, would indicate throughflow to groundwater of 100-450 mm
(4-18 in).

Water flow into the river

As outlined above, the groundwater table does not seem to be related to river level and
it is considered that there is very limited dry season contribution of Gambian ground-
water reserves to river flow. In the wet season, surface flow from the plateau and
colluvial slopes onto the alluvial areas may be a significant factor in the flooding of
the alluvial soils. The river level may rise considerably (5-10 m, 16-32 ft) in Upper
River Division and moderately (less than 1 m, 3 ft) in MacCarthy Island Division,
causing extensive inundation of alluvial soils. The precise source of flooding varies not
only with local variation in topography but also in accordance with rainfall patterns
and cultivation procedures. Contributions from The Gambia itself to the total river
flow in the wet season are not considered an important determinant of the upper
limit of saline intrusion.

Part 6
Geology and geomorphology


No geological survey was undertaken during the project. Early accounts of the geology
of The Gambia are to be found in Hubert (1917) and Cooper (1927). More recent
detailed descriptions of the geology of Senegambia are given by Tessier and Alloiteau
(1952), Bureau de Recherche Geologique et Minéralogique (1962), Maignien (1965),
Monciardini (1966) Michel (1960 and 1973).

Most of the land surface of The Gambia is formed from sandstone laid down during
the late Tertiary era and known as the Continental Terminal. This is a highly weathered
detrital sediment made up of layers of clayey sandstones of variegated colours with
intercalated discontinuous beds of quartz gravel, sand and clay. A localised occurrence
of a calcareous sandstone was identified by Cooper (1927) near Walli Kunda.

Michel (1973) suggests that the material of the Continental Terminal, which overlies
Miocene or Eocene marine sediments, has accumulated through the repeated surface
wash of an extensive surface of gentle slopes, termed glacis, during a relatively arid
climatic period. These deposits have probably been subjected to several phases of
transport and subsequent deposition by fluviatile and aeolian agents. The composition
of the Continental Terminal is dominated by quartz and kaolinite with only a small
percentage of other resistant minerals. The nature of these sediments indicates that
they originated from the erosion of ferrallitic soils on the granite-gneiss complex and
associated palaeozoic sediments to the east of The Gambia (Fauck, 1972).

Since the deposition of this sandstone a series of iron-enriched, hardened layers referred
to as ironpan (or cuirasse) have developed within it. Development of the ironpan
layers probably occurred during the early Quaternary which produced a series of
alternating humid and sub-arid periods. Biochemical weathering predominated during
the humid periods with leaching of iron oxides and their accumulation in the zone of
the fluctuating water table. During subsequent drier periods the accumulations
hardened and were eventually partially exposed during periods when mechanical
erosion was the dominant process. The ironpan may take the form of an indurated
ferruginous sandstone or a conglomerate of quartz gravel and the rounded remnant
fragments of ah older ironpan level. Due to its vesicular structure the ironpan is
normally very porous and may be overlain by a variable depth of gravel. An ironpan
profile in The Gambia has been described by O'Reilly (1958).

During the late Quaternary a long subarid period resulted in the formation of an
extensive dune complex north of The Gambia. Although Michel (1973) places the
limit of this complex as north of the River Saloum, it seems likely that the subdued
north-south orientated sandy ridges found in North Bank Division are in fact the edge
of this dune complex. This proposition is supported by Bertrand's (1971) identifica-
tion of aeolian deposits in Sine Saloum just north of The Gambia.

Within the present and past floodplain of the River Gambia and its tributaries there is
a complex pattern of alluvial deposits. A major marine transgression, the Nouakchottian,
is represented by fluviomarine alluvium west of Kudang. Further downstream, frag-
ments of a sandy terrace 1-2 m (3-6 ft) above more recent alluvial deposits are
associated with this transgression, and examples of these have been described at Faraba
Banta and to the south of Yellitenda (Michel, 1973). Area senilis shells are frequently
incorporated within this terrace. In the east of the country elevated levees border
much of the present river course and the edge of its previous courses. These levees
represent a deposition of the post-Nouakchottian; they become progressively lower and
less well defined to thé west, disappearing completely near Kudang. Behind the levees,
or bordering the river once they have disappeared,is a complex series of low-lying
alluvial terraces. The most recent deposits are the fluviomarine sediments normally
coionised by mangrove which become increasingly extensive towards the mouth of
the river. A mineralogical examination of samples of alluvial material from a number
of sites within The Gambia indicated that they were composed essentially of
sedimentary kaolin clays mixed with varying proportions of quartz sand; some samples
contained traces of mica or illite, and more heavy minerals — tourmaline, staurolite,
limonite and haematite — were sometimes included (Overseas Geological Survey,
Mineral Resources Division 1965 and 1966).

Ilmenite deposits have been identified near the coast in Western Division and were
once commercially exploited by a subsidiary of British Titan Products Company
Limited. The potential of some of the alluvial material and pockets of kaolinitic clay
...:«-u:*% 4>un o A n « - ; n H n . « . n i "!-,•...._ : « « i u~...» u ~ _ . . :_..,««.*.:——.•.—-i _ - — — ~~x _ — .•..*...... _ i _ . . M _
wwi u in i Li ic u u i iLii ici iLai i ci i m i iai n a v e u c c i i ii ivcdLiLjaicu as a 9UUI u c u i LvuiLCi y d a y . I>1U
other minerals of economic importance have been identified.


Cooper (1927) and Jarret (1949) have made generalised studies of the geomorphology
of The Gambia. More recently, Michel (1960 and 1973) has described in detail the
geomorphology of the Gambia river basin.

The Gambia is part of the Tertiary Continental Terminal Plateau dissected by the
River Gambia and its tributaries. In the east of The Gambia the plateau forms
extensive surfaces at an altitude of 40-50 m (130-160 f t ) , dissected by rather narrow
valleys. The border of the plateau is frequently marked by a scarp slope capped by
outcropping ironpan (cuirasse). Below this scarp, cblluvium, associated with scarp
retreat, has accumulated over very gentle slopes which merge with the alluvial areas
associated with the drainage network. The plateau dips gently westwards and becomes
progressively more dissected. The division between plateau and colluvial slope
eventually disappears, so that in most of Western and North Bank Divisions the
landform comprises a series of low,gently sloping interfluves and the fairly broad
valleys associated with these. Figure 18 shows the transition from the western
landscape to the appearance of the plateau surface further east; Figure 19 shows an
idealised cross section of the eastern part of the country.

The principal phases of the morphogenesis of this landscape during the Quaternary as
described by Michel (1973) are outlined below and summarised in Table 11.

The final stages of deposition of the Continental Terminal during the Pliocene were
followed during the early Quaternary by a series of humid and sub-arid periods and a
slight epeirogenetic uplift of the upper part of the Gambia River Basin. Michel (1973)
considers that certain phases of the humid periods coincided with marine transgressions
and Tricart (1956) has tentatively correlated the humid periods with European
interglacial periods. Climatic variation and slight uplift of the land have largely
controlled morphogenesis in The Gambia. Downcutting by the hydrographic network
has been discontinuous, occurring mainly during drier periods when mechanical
erosion predominated. An increase in vegetation cover during the humid periods
resulted in a decrease in erosion and it was during these periods that ironpan formation
took place. The two ironpan levels found have probably resulted from changes in the
level of the water table as the River Gambia and its tributaries incised the Continental

Terminal plateau by successive stages during the Quaternary. Erosion during the drier
periods has resulted in partial exposure of both levels.

TABLE 11 Summary of the geomorphological history of The Gambia

Period with European Climate Sea level Morphogenesis
glacial periods

Recent Postglacial Present day Present day Present day sand dunes. Formation of
third level of ironpan (cuirasse)

Post- Postglacial Alternation of Gradual Raised beaches. Levees

Nouakchottian humid and subarid regression

Nouakchottian Postglacial Humid Major Fluviomarine terraces. Raised beaches

(5 500B.P.) transgression

Ogolian Late Wurm Very arid Regression Dune complex north of The Gambia.
Incision by River Gambia and its
Extensive colluviation.
Reworking of upper part of ironpan

Inchirien Interglacial Humid Transgression Initial development of third level of

(ca. 35 000 B.P.) ironpan

Inchirien Early Wurm Arid Regression Dune complex north of The Gambia.
Incision by River Gambia and its
Extensive colluviation.
Induration of second level of ironpan

Aioujien Interglacial Very humid Transgression Formation of second level of ironpan

Early Quaternary Riss? Subarid Regression Induration of first level of ironpan

Very humid Transgression Formation of first level of ironpan

Subarid Regression Incision of Continental Terminal by

developing hydrographic network

Extensive exposures of the highest level of ironpan are found in the east of The Gambia
at 40-50 m (130-160 ft) above sea level and appear to dip gently to the west. The
second level of ironpan is less easily identified, but lower-lying ironpan-covered
outliers of the plateau close to the River Gambia near Kanube, Kossemar and Jessadi
provide evidence of this level. To the west the levels of ironpan become less widely
separated and towards the coast only one level of fossil ironpan is found. Michel
suggests that either only one level has formed in this area during the Quaternary, or
the higher level of ironpan has been eroded.

Two marine transgressions separated by a relatively short humid period followed the
formation of the two levels of ironpan. By the end of the later regression, incision of
the bed of the River Gambia at its mouth reached 36 m (120 ft) below its present-day
level. Its tributaries formed extensive colluvial deposits by headward erosion into the
plateau. The widespread erosion resulted in exposure and reworking of the ironpan
which is mainly restricted to the edge of the plateau and outliers, the ironpan layers
appearing to thin gradually towards the plateau centres.

Development of a third level of ironpan within the colluvio-alluvial deposits marginal

to the floodplain of the River Gambia and its tributaries was initiated during the
short humid phase of the Inchirien. The relationship between the ironpan levels and
the landform is shown in Figures 18 and 19.



O O O o o o o o o o o o o o o


FIGURE 1 8 Landform transition from west to east showing ironpan levels

Higher level Lower level Possible site of present

fossil ironpan fossil ironpan day ironpan formation

2 mites

1 6



FIGURE 19 Idealised north-to-south cross-section in eastern Gambia showing ironpan levels m
The southernmost limit of extensive dune complexes which developed north of The
Gambia during the two arid periods appears to extend into North Bank Division, where
they form subdued north-south orientated sandy ridges. Concurrently with the forma-
tion of the dune complexes, deposition of aeolian silt, locally reaching 2 m (6.5 ft) in
depth, occurred to the east of The Gambia mainly on the higher lying ironpan-
covered plateau. The deposits appear to thin to the west and in a profile described by
Michel (1973) about 8 km (5 mi) east of The Gambia near Netteboulou, 35 cm (14 in)
of pale yellow gravelly silt loam overlies ironpan.

Subsequent modifications to the landscape during the Upper Quaternary have been
restricted for the most part to the floodplain of the River Gambia and to the coastline.
The major Nouakchottian transgression is represented by a terrace of f luviomarine
alluvium below Kudang and by a raised beach, remnants of which have been identified
near Cape St Mary approximately 2.3 m (7.5 ft) above mean sea level.

A system of post-Nouakchottian levees has developed in the east of The Gambia cutting
off slightly concave argillaceous basins or sloughs. These basins may be inundated by
run-off from the higher lying ground behind and by flooding of the river. The land-
forms typical of the River Gambia valley in MacCarthy Island Division and Upper
River Division are shown in annotated Plates 1 and 2.

During the Quaternary an important anticlinal structure orientated east-west has

developed between Bintang Bolon and the River Casamance. This has resulted in the
development of a watershed between the River Gambia and River Casamance about
10 km (6 mi) south of the River Gambia between Bintang and Brefet. Another anticline
orientated SE-NW, west of Banjul, has caused the mouth of the River Gambia to
assume its SE-NW direction and forms the principal watershed in the Kombo area.



PLATE 1 Geomorphology of the valley of the River Gambia between Sapu and Georgetown,
MacCarthy Island Division. (1) Outcropping ironpan bordered by scarp slope,
(2) Colluvial slope, (3) Alluvial river terrace, (4) Former river course, (5) Complex
of interconnecting levees. I24,GA/I Fnoto IÓJFS. 1972


PLATE 2 Geomorphology of the valley of the River Gambia between Basse and Fattatenda, Upper
River Division. (1) Outcropping ironpan bordered by scarp slope, (2) Colluvial slope,
(3) Slough alluvial deposits, (4) Very poorly drained slough depressions (5) Major
post-Nouakchottian levee, (6) Minor levee, (7) Alluvial river terrace, (8) Temporarily
active drainage connection between river and slough. 124/GA/1 Photoio7 FSL1972

Part 7
Soil study methods

Soil studies were undertaken in The Gambia during two separate projects. Between
1965 and 1968 a soil survey of Western Division was carried out as part of an assess-
ment of the possibilities of oil palm cultivation in that area. Some soil-moisture
monitoring (see Part 9) was done in conjunction with this work. The remainder of the
soils work reported below was done as part of the LRD Land Resources Development
Project of The Gambia between 1971 and 1974.


As a preliminary step in both soil surveys an initial interpretation of air photographs

was made. The Western Division survey used photographs at a scale of 1:25 000 (DOS
Contract 78, 1964). For the LRD survey the later 1:40 000 photographs were used
(RAF V13B, 1968) and the preliminary interpretation of landform-vegetation units
was compiled on to base maps at 1:50 000. These preliminary interpretations
provided a framework within which subsequent field studies were arranged.


Western Division survey

Auger borings were made along traverses which followed existing roads and tracks; the
borings were not at fixed intervals but selected on the basis of the air photos and
ground conditions. Profile pits were described to cover the range of soils encountered
with particular attention paid to the catenary relationships of these. 114 profile pits
were described, giving a profile pit density of just over one per 13 k m ^ (5 mi^).

Land resources project: reconnaissance survey

For the survey of the remainder of the country traverses were selected from existing
tracks and roads on the basis of the landscape units recognised during the preliminary
air-photo interpretation and following an initial rapid reconnaissance. Agricultural
assistants, trained in basic soil survey techniques, made auger borings at 0.8 km (0.5
mi) intervals along these traverses. Texture, colour (moist and dry) and occurrence of
mottles and stones were noted at approximately 20 cm (8 in) intervals, and the
samples grouped into uniform horizons. Texture was determined using the 'texture
board' technique as described by Ahn (1970) and colours were given in terms of their
Munsell Colour Chart notation. Grouped samples were brought back to base for
checking. Between each auger boring relevant features of the topography, vegetation
and cultivation were recorded. These traverses are shown on the soils map.

On the basis of this appraisal of the soil characteristics a limited number of profile pits
were described and sampled. Profile pit description was done by the senior soil
surveyors using computer-compatible profile-description record cards (DOS 2671).
Sampling was by genetic horizons.

From these data a preliminary field legend was constructed; auger borings were
classified according to this. Further profile pit sites were selected to cover as far as
possible the range of units described by the preliminary legend in approximately the
proportions in which they were estimated to occur within a given area. These profile
pits were described and sampled as before. The site of all profile pits is shown on the
Separate Map sheets.
A *~*~i ^f -,u~..* 1 on A i , „ /onn „ : \ ~t *.-.«..~-.~~ ... -.._..„.. i __~i *u:~ *„„„*u„_ ...:+u
r-v l u i a i u i a u u u t i ouvs i \ i u \U\J\J m i / <_>• u a v c i s c w a s s u i v c y c u a n u u n s , i.uycicici wmi
other observations, gave a soil observation density of just over 1 per 5 k m ^ (2 mi^).
The 230 soil profile pits described and analysed gave a profile pit density of approxi-
mately 1 per 36 k m ^ (14 mi2).

Land resources project: survey of selected alluvial areas

Following the reconnaissance survey, an area within the alluvial soils was selected for
more detailed study with particular reference to its irrigation potential. The selected
area lay within MacCarthy Island Division since this was the area for which the IBRD-
supported irrigation scheme was projected, and was confined to an area up-river from
the norma! dry-season limit of saline influence. ApproximatBly 17 500 ha (43 250 sc)
were surveyed, this area being divided into seven blocks (see Text Map 3 in Part 10).

In each block, traverses at approximately right angles to the generalised course of the
river were laid out at intervals generally not exceeding 3 km (2 mi); the traverse lines
were selected from the air photographs to give the most comprehensive coverage of
the range of conditions encountered within each block. These traverses were linked
by a single traverse running more or less parallel with the river. (The exception to
this layout was in Area 3 where three traverses were run parallel to the river in order
to give a reasonably uniform coverage). Each traverse was topographically surveyed
using an autoset leveller with observations at 30 m (100 ft) intervals. From at least
one point in each survey block a levelling line was run to the nearest DOS levelling
network benchmark; this point was permanently marked for subsequent reference.

Soil observations were made at 0.4 km (0.25 mi) intervals on each traverse. A posthole
digger was used to excavate the top 80 cm (32 in) and an auger below that. Difficulties
were encountered due to the extreme hardness of the soil but it was usually possible
to bore t o about 200 cm (80 in) depth. As in the reconnaissance survey, agricultural
assistants recorded texture, colour, mottles and the occurrence of concretions at
approximately 20 cm (8 in) intervals and grouped each boring into uniform horizons;
the field-moisture status of each sample was recorded as dry, slightly moist, moist or
wet. The grouped samples were brought back to base and the team's soil surveyors
recorded structure, porosity and made a brief description of each soil. All traverses
were checked by the soil surveyors and plotted onto 1:10 000 air photographs (DOS
Contract 124, 1972).

Samples from 0-10 cm (0-4 in), 10-20 cm (4-8 in) and from approximately 50 cm -
(20 in), 100 cm (40 in) and 200 cm (80 in) were dried in the sun. Samples which were
in a moist or wet condition in the field were dried as slowly as possible in a well
shaded room. All dried samples were then ground to pass a 2 mm sieve. Determination
of pH was made with a soihwater ratio of 1:2.5. Electrical conductivity was measured
on the filtrate of a 1:5 soihwater mixture of the normal fast-dried samples. Although
saturation extract is recommended for determination of electrical conductivity, with
these fine-textured soils it was not possible to use anything less than a 1:5 ratio under
field conditions; this, however, was considered to be quite adequate to detect any
salinity hazard.


'-'•-UV spw^

'i rttlrt >ï»t="V-'Jf'-'i

„èv •••/Vy.

H , *ƒ•••

PVF*U*V •• v , . . w - ••.il

r •
Vi *#? :

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*3r" *

PLATE 3 Recording the results of an auger boring PLATE 4 Describing the soil profile at a site where soil m
water studies using a neutron probe were under- 00
taken. ß»
Soil profile pits selected to represent the range of soils present in each sample block
were described and sampled. The overall observation density for the survey was one
observation per 47 ha (117 ac).

Sample strips of major associations

For the characterisation of the detailed pattern of soil distribution within the major
mapping associations five sample strips (Text Maps 10-14 in Part 10) were studied.
These were located in the vicinities of Sabi, Pateh Sam, Yorro Pendeh, Walli Kunda and
Geneiri; their exact location is shown on the soil association map.

Each sample strip measured approximately 0.8 x 3.2 km (0.5 x 2 mi) and had seven
iongitudinai traverses giving a traverse interval of 152 m (500 ft). A topographical
survey was made of each of these traverses and of transverse traverses linking the
longitudinal traverses at the beginning, middle and end of each sample strip. As in the
survey of the alluvial soils,an autoset leveller was used with observations usually at a
30 m (100 ft) interval. A levelling line was run from at least one point on each sample
strip to the nearest DOS levelling network benchmark (no topographical survey was
made for sample strip 5).

On traverses 1, 3, 5 and 7 auger borings were made to a depth of 150 cm (60 in) where
possible, at intervals of 305 m (1 000 f t ) ; this gave a basic 305 m (1 000 ft) fixed grid
of soil observation. These auger borings were described in situ by one of the team's
soil surveyors. In addition lo the fixed grid borings additional observations were made
on a free survey basis to locate the main soil changes. Profile pits representative of the
different soils present on each sample strip were described and sampled.

Field measurement of soil bulk density and penetrability

Because of the importance of certain physical characteristics of the soils to their

agricultural utilisation^ study of soil bulk density and penetrability was carried out.
The alluvial soils and the shallow upland soils were excluded from this study since in
both cases characteristics other than bulk density and penetrability were probably of
overriding importance. Altogether, bulk density and penetrability measurements were
made on 99 profiles involving 468 separate horizons. The sampling points in each
profile were selected to coincide with central points of the genetic horizons previously
described and analysed; this was considered preferable to standard-interval sampling
which, although giving more direct comparison between profiles, would not have
allowed correlation between the bulk density and penetrability measurements and the
other physical and chemical characteristics of the soil.

Bulk density was measured with standard 100cc cores collected using a Helmut Klein
coupling rod. Penetrability was measured using an English Laboratory Equipment Ltd
needle penetrometer (EL 34.080) similar to the Proctor penetrometer. Collection of
bulk density cores and penetrability measurements were were made on horizontal
faces excavated so that the sample was taken from the middle of the appropriate
genetic horizon. Because of the extreme hardness of the soils when dry, the excavated
faces were wetted-up 24 hours prior to sampling and left covered with polythene
sheeting so that the sampling zone was of uniform moisture content; the moisture
content was measured gravimetrically from a sub-sample of the bulk density core.


Western Division survey

Boundaries delineating soil sets (Taylor and Pohlen, 1962) were marked on the
1:25 000 photographs (DOS contract 78, 1964). This interpretation was compiled
onto the existing 1:50 000 base maps and a dyeline issue of this was produced in
conjunction with 'Notes on the soils of Western Division, The Gambia' (Hill, 1968).
Subsequently there was some boundary modification mainly involving amalgamation

of sets into the associations as recognised in the rest of the country; these new
boundaries were re-plotted on a 1:50 000 base and reduced to the final map scale of
1:125 000.

Land resources project: reconnaissance survey

An interpretation was made using the new 1972 1:25 000 photography (DOS contract
124) and soil associations were identified as areas of geographically and topographically
related soil units. This interpretation was compiled on the existing 1:50 000 base maps
(through an intermediate plot on photomosaics at a scale of 1:50 000 made up from the
1972 1:25'000 photography where these were available) and the compilation was
reduced to the final mapping scale of 1:125 000.

Survey of selected alluvial areas

An interpretation was made using the 1972 1:10 000 photography (DOS contract 124)
and this was reduced to a final mapping scale of 1:50 000. Even at this scale it was
not always possible to delineate soil series, so that the mapping units may comprise
more than one series.

Sample strips

From the topographic data, an approximate form-line map at scale 1:6 000 was
constructed for most sample strips. For sample strips 1 (Walli Kunda) and 5 (Geneiri)
no form-line maps are available; in the case of sample strip 1 some of the topographic
data were found to be inconsistent; sample strip 5 was studied separately and no
topographic survey equipment was available. Soil characteristics as indicated by the
auger borings and profile pits were plotted, and from a combination of form-line
(where available) and soil data a 1:6 000 scale soil map was constructed.


All chemical analyses were carried out in the Tropical Soils Analysis Unit at Reading.
Determination of particle size distribution was done at the Soils and Produce
Laboratory at Yundum with a 10% random check by the TSAU. The methods used
are briefly described below

Moisture and bulk density : a known volume of soil is weighed and the weight of
1 cm3 calculated, the soil is then heated and the % moisture calculated

Mechanical analysis. Pretreatment with hydrogen peroxide removes organic matter and
disperses particles. Particles < 50ju are determined by settling. Clay and silt fractions
(< 2/i and 2-50/i) are separated and calculated. The sand fraction > 50M is sieved into
the following sizes: 50-1 0 0 M ; 1 0 0 2 5 0 M ; 2 5 0 5 0 0 M ; 500-1 0 0 0 M ; 1 000-2 0 0 0 M

Organic carbon: by Walkley and Black's metbod followed by colorimetric determina-

tion by auto-analyser

Total nitrogen a Kjeldahl digestion with a selenium catalyst followed by colorimetric

determination by auto-analyser

Free carbonate: effervesces with addition of hydrochloric acid: carbonate determined

on samples which react

Carbonate determination: reaction with hydrochloric acid and back titration with
sodium hydroxide

pH: measured in 1:2.5 soil:water ratio

Conductivity: measured in 1:5 soil: water ratio

Soluble cations (sodium): leaching with 80% industrial methylated spirits, determina-
tion by flame photometry

Exchangeable bases: leaching with neutral N ammonium acetate, sodium and potassium
determined by flame photometry on auto-analyser and magnesium and calcium by
atomic absorption spectroscopy

Cation exchange capacity: leaching with N potassium chloride at pH 2.5 after removal
of excess ammonium acetate; ammonia released determined by auto-analyser

Available phosphorus: Olsen's method for soils with pH > 7.0

Rrax/'c rnothorj 2 A f o r SOUS W i t h p H *C 7 . 0

Total element analysis (phosphorus, potassium and magnesium): perchloric acid

digest and determination by auto-analyser

Phosphorus: colorimetrically using ascorbic acid as reducing agent

Potassium: by flame photometry using Li as standard
Magnesium: by atomic absorption spectroscopy with Sr as releasing

Part 8
Profile ehara<gt®sisti©s and §@ii

This part comprises a detailed description of the soil characteristics followed by their
classification into soil series. A summary of the soil characteristics, preceded by a brief
description of the geological/geomorphological background (detailed in Part 6), is given

The land area of The Gambia is part of an extensive sedimentary basin which developed
during the Tertiary period. The deposit, the Continental Terminal, is highly weathered
detrital sediment made up of layers of clayey sandstone of variegated colours inter-
stratified with discontinuous beds of quartz gravel, sand and clay. Since its deposition
this sandstone has been dissected by the River Gambia and its tributaries and there
have developed within it a series of ironpan (cuirasse) layers. The highest remaining
surface forms part of the Senegambian Plateau at 40-50 m (130-160 ft) above mean
sea level, frequently marked by the outcrop of the uppermost ironpan level. Below this
level, dissection has produced a series of gentle colluvial slopes; alluvium has been
deposited in the floodplain of the River Gambia and its tributaries. West of approxi-
mately 16°W, dissection has virtually removed the plateau surface, leaving a series of
very gently sloping interfluves with broad depressions between them, the lower parts
of which are frequently infilled by sandy colluvium.

Most of the alluvial soils are hydromorphic and fine textured, usually comprising more
than 80% silt-plus-clay throughout. Some non-hydromorphic, usually coarser textured,
alluvial soils occur on the higher lying levees in the east of The Gambia and sandy layers
have been found in some of the most recent fluvio-marine sediments. The alluvial soils
can be broadly divided into those which are, or have been, subject t o inundation by
saline water and those east of about 15°W which show no evidence of saline conditions.
The saline-affected soils are now covered with mangrove or, where accretion has raised
the soil level above the limit of tidal flooding, barren flats.

All the so/75 developed on the Continental Terminal within The Gambia have certain
common characteristics. They are all of low chemical fertility. Cation exchange capacity
of the clay is approximately 6 meq % (consistent with an essentially kaolinitic system)
and with organic carbon constituting generally not more than 0.3-0.4% of the surface
horizon, the cation-exchange capacity of the soils lies generally in the range 1.5-5.5 meq %.
Base saturation is usually fairly high, often between 40 and 100%, in which calcium
generally predominates, though the level of magnesium may exceed that of calcium on
the exchange complex in some subsoil horizons. Despite the low level of exchangeable
potassium, rarely more than 0.2 meq % anywhere in the profile, fertiliser trials do not
indicate any crop requirement for additional potassium with current methods of pro-
duction. Available phosphorus is extremely low, usually 3.0-6.0 ppm and crop response
to applied phosphorus is common. The pH tends to decrease slightly with depth from
values of 5.8-6.4 in the surface to 5.0-6.0 in the subsoil.

The soils on the Continental Terminal are poorly structured and of hard or very hard
consistence when dry. Bulk density of most horizons of most soils is high, in the range
of 1.65-1.85 g/cm^, a level normally associated with severely impeded root growth.
With the exception of the shallowest soils, all profiles show a textural gradient from
coarser textured surface horizons to finer textured subsoil horizons without generally
any subsequent decrease in clay in lower subsoil horizons within 2 m (6.6 ft) of the soil
surface. Surface horizons are usually sands or loamy sands, less commonly sandy loams,
and subsoil horizons are most frequently sandy clay loams or sandy clays though a range
from loamy sands t o clays has been recorded. In two aspects of their textural charac-
teristics the soils of the plateau differ from the colluvial soils and those of the interfluves
of Western and North Bank Division. Firstly, the surface horizons of the plateau soils are
usually finer-textured than those of the colluvial soils or where a plateau soil has a coarse
textured surface it is shallower than that normally found in a colluvial soil. Secondly,
while the subsoil horizons of plateau and colluvial soils normally fall into the same
textural classes of sandy clay loam or sandy clay, the plateau soils have a greater propor-
tion of particles in the silt and very fine sand range. An important variable within the
soils of the Continental Terminal is their depth. Dissection of the plateau leads to
exposure of the upper level of ironpan and a range of variably shallow soils occupy the
outer zones of the plateau. Some shallow soils over detrital ironpan occur in colluvial
situations and more recent ironpan development leads to some shallow soils in lower
slope and depression sites.

No systematic soil survey had been undertaken in The Gambia until the work carried
out by Hill (1968) in Western Division as part of an assessment of the possibility of
oilpalm cultivation in that area (Hill, 1969). Prior to this, however, field and pot trials
had been carried out by Webb (1954a, 1954b, 1955a, 1955b) which are discussed by
Greene (1955), and the results of further field trials are described by Thornton (1964).
Thornton (1960) also gave a broad classification of Gambian soils and comments on
their qualities and use. In addition to these works, a detailed study of the mangrove
swamps of Keneba is described by Giglioli and Thornton (1965), Thornton and Giglioli
(1965) and Giglioli and King (1966).

A considerable body of information exists on the characteristics of soils in Senegal, many

of which are very similar to the Gambian soils. General accounts of Senegalese soils are
given by Aubert and Maignien (1948) and by Adams ef a/.. (1965), and a soil map of
Senegal at scale 1:1 000 000 has been compiled by Maignien (1965). Three of the exist-
ing sheets of the 1:200 000 reconnaissance soil survey of Senegal are of particular
interest since they are adjacent to The Gambia, namely Tambakounda-Bakel (Pereira
Baretto, 1966), Haute Casamance (Fauck ef al. 1963) and Moyenne Casamance
(Baldenspergeref al. 1968). Other information on soils in areas of Senegal comparable
with The Gambia include a pedological study of the region of Sedihou (central
Casamance) by Fauck (1955), a more recent study by Bertrand (1970) of parts of the
region of Sedihou with a view to rice cultivation, a detailed study of an area of
50 000 ha (125 000 ac) in the vicinity of Koumpenntoum with the object of locating
suitable sites for six new villages (Hanrion et al. 1971) and a morpho-pedological
investigation of part of Sine Saloum by Bertrand (1971).

In addition to these specific areal surveys there exist a number of studies of the two
common soils found in Senegal, the ferrallitic and the ferruginous tropical soils; these
are also the commonest soils of The Gambia (see Part 8). Maignien (1961) has described
the transition from ferruginous tropical soils to ferrallitic soils in the south-west of
Senegal. Fauck has described the sub-group of leached ferruginous tropical soils with
concretions (Fauck, 1963) and the weakly ferrallitic red soils of West Africa (Fauck,
1964). Various aspect of ferrallitic soils were covered by Aubert and Segalen (1966)
and others. More recent considerations on the ferruginous tropical soils have been pre-
sented by Fauck (1968) and Maignien (1968), and a comprehensive study of the red
soils on sands and sandstones in West Africa has been presented by Fauck (1972).

In the remainder of this part of the report the characteristics of the soils of The Gambia
are described under two headings corresponding with the geographical division of the
soils into two major areas (see Part 7): the soils of the Continental Terminal and the
soils of the alluvium. In discussing characteristics, some references to the relevance of
certain of them to classification and to agricultural utilisation are inevitable, but these
aspects are considered in more detail in the Appendix and Part 12 respectively. Soil
moisture is the subject of separate treatment in Part 9 though again some reference to
this is inevitable when considering other characteristics. Following the description of
the soil characteristics, the parameters used for subdivision of the soils into series are
defined and keys are presented for the classification of soils into series. Brief descriptions
of the series are then given; full series descriptions and characterisation are held in the
LRD archives.

The soils of the Continental Terminal

The greater part of the land surface of The Gambia is formed from the Continental
Terminal, and the soils developed in this have many similar characteristics associated
with their common parent rock. Within these soils, the major distinction appears to be
between those more or less sedentary soils of the plateau and the soils developed in the
transported or reworked material of the colluvial slope. Although the more detailed
distinctions between these soils will be discussed in the description of the individual
series, it will be necessary in this section sometimes to differentiate between the
sedentary and the colluvial soils. Also, in discussing results from French West Africa it
will be necessary to allude to the distinction between ferruginous tropical and ferrallitic
soils. Most of the soils of The Gambia developed in the Continental Terminal may be
classed as ferruginous tropical soils, while some of the better drained, redder soils
occupying interfluve crest positions in the western part of the country and some upper
colluvial slope sites elsewhere may fall into the ferrallitic soil category. These categories
are discussed in more detail in Appendix 1 where an explanation is given of the relation-
ship between the major existing classification systems and the local system developed
for The Gambia. The characteristics of the soils are considered below under the major
headings of profile morphology, physical characteristics and chemical characteristics.


This refers to the form of the essentially in situ soil as seen in profile and described in
the field, although certain aspects of the profile morphology may later be confirmed,
clarified or further analysed in the laboratory.

Soil depth

Soil depth has been taken as the depth to a .layer which limits normal rooting. In the
case of the soils of the Continental Terminal the most important root growth limiting
factor is the occurrence of a hard ironpan (cuirasse) layer or a layer in which the dis-
integrated and reworked fragments of ironpan layers occupy more than about 60% of
the soil volume. Obviously the occurrence of more than 60% of hardened material
whether gravel, stones or boulders may not completely inhibit root growth through
mechanical impedence. However, the low volume of fine earth material available for
holding and providing to the plant moisture and nutrients is considered to inhibit root
growth, and for this reason, throughout this study, soil depth is taken to be the depth
to a layer composed of more than 60% indurated material.

Within the soils of the Continental Terminal depth is often limited by either continuous
sheet ironpan or by the stony layers of disintegrated or partially formed ironpan. In
the extreme condition sheet ironpan layers outcrop on parts of the plateau, or massive
boulders are strewn on scarp slopes. Depth to a layer of more than 60% indurated
material is used as an important parameter in the classification of the soils used in this

Another factor which may impede root growth is the presence of a watertable. In most
cases even at the lowest points on the colluvial slope the watertable is not encountered above
2 m (6 ft) depth and as such is unlikely to affect the rooting of most crops. Soil depth
is never considered to be limited by the watertable within the soils of the colluvial slope.
In some areas of the plateau a perched watertable is found during the wet season; this is
associated with the occurrence close to the surface of an impervious ironpan layer. It is
the depth to this layer which would be considered first in classifying the soils in such
areas, with subsequent consideration given to the hydromorphic characteristics
associated with the seasonal watertable.

Horizon differentiation

in aii of the sous of the Continental Terminal distinct horizons showing characteristics
resulting from soil-forming processes may be recognised. Organic matter is incorporated
in the upper part of the profile forming the horizon which will be referred to below as
the surface horizon; this would be'the A-| horizon of the USDA system. The level of
organic matter is low, and the organic matter is strongly decomposed and intimately
mixed with the mineral fraction of the soil. The surface horizon is commonly dark
brown, dark yellowish brown or dark greyish brown when moist, distinctly lighter —
brown, greyish brown or brownish grey — when dry. The depth of the lower limit of
this horizon is commonly between 15 and 20 cm (6 and 8 in) though greater and lesser
depths than this have been recorded. This range of depth for the surface horizon is
similar to that quoted for thehorizonshumifères of the equivalent soils in Senegal.

Below the surface horizon lies a transitional zone; this may comprise more than one
true genetic horizon and is referred to below as the transitional horizon(s). The boundary
between the base of the surface horizon and the uppermost transitional horizon is clear
and indicates a rapid decrease in organic matter with depth. Through thé transitional
horizons there is an increase in clay content, and development of the soil colour.
Boundaries within the transitional horizons and between them and the subjacent
horizon are gradual or diffuse. The transitional horizons, therefore, are those horizons
lying between the surface horizon and that subsurface horizon in which the diagnostic
characteristics of the series are fulfilled. The lower limit of this horizon commonly lies
between 65 and 90 cm.

By a boundary which is usually gradational or diffuse the transitional horizons merge

into the upper subsoil horizon. This horizon provides the diagnostic criteria of the
series and is at least 10 cm (4 in) thick and within 125 cm (49 in) of the surface. It is
essentially within the concept of the B2 horizon of the USDA system. In this horizon
clay content is generally at its maximum or has reached a level where the rate of increase
with depth has markedly declined. The colour may not be the strongest colour in the
profile because by definition the soil is classified into the least well drained category as
indicated by the colour within 125 cm. Consequently it would not be impossible for a
profile to include a reddish yellow or yellowish red horizon with a clay content at or
close to the profile maximum,but for this to be included as part of the transitional
horizons where it was underlain, within 125 cm, by a paler or mottled horizon which
is therefore the characteristic upper subsoil horizon. As pointed out in discussing the
transitional horizons this may cut across true genetic considerations, but the system
used here, serving as the basis of the local soil classification system discussed below, is
designed to be essentially practical and usable by people with limited soils knowledge.

The division between the upper subsoil and lower subsoil horizons is purely arbitrary
and set at 125 cm, or below that horizon which included at least 10 cm within 125 cm.
There may be relatively little change from upper to lower subsoil, or there may be a
dramatic change to, for example, ironpan layer or an horizon of increased hydromor-
phism or iron segregation.


In itself, colour is obviously not an important soil characteristic; it can be, however, a
useful indicator of soil conditions and pedogenetic processes and as such has been used
as an important criterion in classifying the soils of the Continental Terminal.

Soil colour relates to the amount, nature and distribution of the clay and organic frac-
tions of the soil. In the surface horizons of these soils the clay content is usually very
low while the organic matter content is relatively high. The organic matter is fairly
strongly decomposed and well mixed with the mineral fraction imparting a fairly uni-
form brownish colour to the surface horizon. A feature of the surface horizon colour
is that it varies quite considerably with moisture content, being significantly paler or
greyer when the soil is dry.

Immediately below the surface horizon the soil colour is usually very pale. This is a
reflection of a much reduced level of organic matter and a still relatively low clay con-
tent. Not all of the clay fraction contributes to soil colour; it is the clay-sized and
colloidal iron oxide component which imparts the colour to the soil. Below the depth
at which organic matter is making a significant contribution, therefore, the colour of
the soil is governed by the amount, the state of oxidation and the distribution of the
iron oxides. Even where the subsurface horizon has a fairly high clay content it appears
to be relatively depleted of iron oxides and is still usually pale in colour.

The development of colour with depth is then related to the increasing content of clay
and iron oxide and the moisture regime of the soil. In a freely drained soil the iron oxide
is in a strongly dehydrated condition and develops a red colour. As the content of iron
oxide increases with an increase in clay with depth, the soil develops a strong red or
yellowish red colour. In a soil subject to regular and prolonged waterlogging, the iron
oxide is chemically reduced. In this reduced form, iron imparts only faint colouration
to the soil, and is likely to be mobile and move through the profile; it either moves to
the watertable or is reoxidised and accumulates at a greater depth. Between these two
extremes is a range of soil colours and colour mottle patterns. The colour classes
recognised for the local classification are given below, along with the keys to series
identification. It is proposed that these colour classes broadly reflect the drainage status
of the soils. It should however be emphasised that the colour/drainage status correlation
is by no means perfect. Soil colour may in fact be a result not of the present-day
moisture regime but of some previous one. A pale colour may be the result of incom-
plete reoxidation following some previously wet era or the loss of reduced iron, so that
it is at an inadequate concentration t o impart strong colour to the profile even in a
strongly oxidised condition.

Field texture

Soil texture was estimated in the field from the feel of the soil or by the texture-board
method (Ahn, 1968). According to the estimated proportions of sand, silt and clay a
textural class was assigned to a soil according to the system described by the USDA

In all the soils of the Continental Terminal there is a textural gradient within the profile
from a coarser textured upper profile to finer textures below. In most Gambian soils
the surface horizon is a sand or loamy sand. This layer may vary from a few centimetres
to more than 100 cm (3.3 ft) and its depth has been used as an important criterion in
the classification of the soils. The subsoils are commonly sandy clay loams or sandy
clays but a range of textures from sandy loams to clays are found in the Continental
Terminal soils. The texture of the subsoil is also used as a criterion in the classification
of these soils.

Mechanical analysis of all profiles was undertaken and the texture so determined is con-
sidered in greater detail below under the heading 'particle size distribution'. In compar-
ing the field-assessed textural class with that given by mechanical analysis it was often
found that clay or silt plus clay had been underestimated in the field.


Throughout the soils of the Continental Terminal there is relatively little structural
development. Coarse-textured surface horizons are almost invariably structureless or
comprise mainly single-grain material weakly aggregated probably by the activity of
soil fauna. There are also some weak platey structures in surface horizons which are

thought to be associated with tillage practices. In the finer-textured horizons there is
more aggregation, but structural development is never described as greater than moder-
ate and is commonly only weak. There is no strong correlation of the degree of struc-
tural development with the landscape position of the soils or with other soil charac-
teristics and structure has not been used as a criterion in the local classification system.
Some account of this, however, has to be taken in considering the allocation of soils to
the ferruginous tropical subclass or ferrallitic class of the French classification system.


The consistence of wet soils is a function of the clay content. A meaningful estimation
of the consistence in the moist and dry states is difficult because of the problem of con-
trolling moisture content. When moist most of the soils of the Continental Terminal are
fairly friable although some, notably the finest textured soils, may be rather firm. When
dry, nearly all the soils finer than sandy loam are hard or very hard. Indeed this is a
feature of most of the Continental Terminal soils of The Gambia. There was no strong
correlation of consistence with landscape position, major soil group or other soil charac-
teristics except, to some extent, texture.


In the field, porosity was assessed by visual examination. All the soils of the Continental
Terminal have many very fine pores usually throughout the profile, with always more
than 200 and commoniy 5ÖÖ pores of iess than i mm (Ü.Ü4 in) diameter per d m '
(15 in2). Larger pores are relatively uncommon and are usually associated with termite
activity. Total porosity has been calculated from the bulk density and particle density
and this is discussed below in the section on 'bulk density and total porosity'.


Coatings of clay and sesquioxide (known as cutans) in pores and as thin rather diffuse
patches,possibly associated with weak structural faces, are commonly observed in the
soils of the Continental Terminal. The presence of cutans is thought to indicate a
vertical leaching of clay down the profile leading to the development of an illuvial
horizon of clay accumulation. As such, cutans are considered important in distinguish-
ing between ferrallitic and leached ferruginous tropical soils. A micromorphological
study made by Hill (1968 and 1970) showed that, irrespective of whether or not cutans
had been identified, illuviation cutans were present in all the soils examined

Other concretions

Concretions of sesquioxides occur in many of the soils of the Continental Terminal,

particularly in the lower horizons. Their form is extremely varied and their precise
genesis uncertain. The concretions usually have abrupt boundaries often with a patina
and sometimes a thin coating of bleached material. They are generally dark red in
colour, and microscopic examination shows many to have a very dense structure. This
suggests that the concretions are fossil, forming a stable feature around which water per-
colates to give the gleyed rim. In general the concretions become harder and more
numerous with depth, and may have been developed in the past when the watertable
was at a higher level. On the other hand there is little microscopic evidence of con-
centric structure, and it is possible that some of the concretions are fragments of
reworked fossil ironpan as suggested by Kaloga (1966) for similar concentrations in
the Dalafi area to the north-east of The Gambia. In some cases, however, concentrations
of sesquioxides are obviously associated with present-day mottling and gleying, and it
is possible in these situations that iron has been introduced by lateral rather than
vertical movement and may be derived by remobilisation of fossil ironpan.

Fauck eta/. (1963) recognised a developmental sequence of soils within the leached
ferruginous tropical group based on the induration of the mottles and concretions and
were able to assign the different soil units to particular topographical positions. Within
The Gambia it was not possible to recognise any simple, clearcut classification of the
Continental Terminal soils in terms of the form or degree of induration of the

concretions. These concentrations, therefore, were not used as a criterion in the local
soil classification given below, except (a) where they were hard and occupied more
than 60% of the soil volume in which case they-were considered as limiting soil depth,
(b) where they were soft when they were also included as mottles and as such would
be taken into account in assigning a colour class to the soil, or (c) where they formed
an horizon so dominated by iron accumulation that it was considered to be plinthite.


Most of the physical characteristics of a soil are given some consideration in the field
examination and description of a soil. Certain aspects of the physical characteristics of
the soils of the Continental Terminal were studied in more detail by additional field
and laboratory examination, and are discussed below. Soil-water characteristics and
their relevance to agriculture are discussed elsewhere.

Particle size distribution

Particle size distribution is a most important soil characteristic influencing both the
chemical and physical behaviour of the soils, and is considered an important indicator
of the genesis of the soil.

A mechanical analysis was made of all horizons of the fully described soil profile pits
and the following size fractions were recognised: (USDA, 1951).

< 2M clay
2- 50M silt
50- 100M . very fine sand
100- 250M fine sand
250- 500M medium sand
500-1 000M coarse sand
1 000-2 000M very coarse sand

A feature of all the soils of the Continental Terminal is that there is an increase in clay
content with depth. The depth at which percentage clay reaches a maximum varies
considerably but the presence of some superficial horizon with a lower clay content
than the underlying horizons is a ubiquitous feature of the Continental Terminal soils
of The Gambia. The significance of the textural profile in the classification of the soils
is discussed in the Appendix.

The common occurrence of coarser-textured surface layers over finer subsurface

horizons is attributed to the downward migration of clay. A profile develops in which
a depleted eluvial horizon overlies a clay-enriched illuvial horizon which in turn norm-
ally overlies an horizon of intermediate texture, neither depleted nor enriched. There
is usually differential movement of the different sizes of clay, more fine than coarse.
In the Continental Terminal soil&of The Gambia it is likely that the downward trans-
location of clay plays some part in the development of the textural profile. In many
of the soils cutans have been recognised (Hill 1968, 1970). In this same study, it has
been shown that there is usually a change in the ratio of fine clay to coarse clay con-
sistent with a process of clay illuviation. In many of the Continental Terminal soils
analysed, however, there is no marked 'clay-bulge' horizon; that is, within the profile
the clay content reaches a maximum value in a subsurface horizon but shows little or
no diminution below that (see Figure 20 a, b.): thus either the whole of the profile
below the eluvial layer to the depth examined is illuvial or illuviation is relatively
unimportant and the textural profile is a result of some process other than the down-
ward translocation of clay. If the illuvial horizon extends to 200 cm (80 in) or more,
then it has to be postulated in many cases that there has been erosion of some of the
surface soil since the higher clay content of the illuvial horizon could not be accounted
for by addition of clay only from the existing eluvial horizon. It is of interest that
where there is a marked decrease in clay content at depth (see Figure 20c) this is often
associated with the presence of concretions.
Clay% Clay% Clay%
] 10 20 30 40 50
i i l i









(a) Profile WAG 360, Charmen Series (403) (b) Profile WAG 070, Jar Kunda Series (419) (c) Profile WAG 074, N'Geyen Sanjal Series (204)

Horizon boundary — •

FIGURE 20 Variation in clay content with depth

The coarser texture of the surface horizon may have arisen from lateral clay depletion
(Roose, 1967). It has also been suggested that the sandy surface horizon of many
ferrallitic soils may be due to sorting by termites involving the loss of clay and silt in
run off water during destruction of the mound (Sys, 1955; Maignien, 1961; De Ploey,
1964; Tricart, 1957).The coarser-textured upper horizons may not, however, represent
an in situ depletion of clay but be colluvial in origin. An examination of the particle
size distribution shows that in most soils the ratio of fine to coarse sand is greatest in
the surface horizon. In some cases a marked change in this coincides with a sharp
increase in clay (Figure 21). In Western Division it was found that particularly in the
lower slopes there was a marked discontinuity in this ratio at a depth of about 70 cm
(28 in) (Figure 22). (Note that in the Western Division analyses slightly different
particle-size fractions were used, fine sand being the 50-200/i fraction).This is evidence
that the upper part of many profiles is transported material,probably colluvial in origin.
It should, however, be emphasised that the changes in fine sand:coarse sand ratios are
by no means consistent. In parts of North Bank Division and rarely elsewhere, some
very high values of the ratio are found. For example, profile WAG 123 has fine sand:
coarse sand ratios ranging from 5.4 to 8.4 compared with a usual range of about 1.0-3.0.
This could well reflect an aeolian contribution t o the composition of these soils.

It is not surprising that in old soils with a long and complex genesis there should be no
simple explanation for the development of the textural profile. In most of the soils of
the Continental Terminal there has been vertical and probably lateral movement of clay
but the textural profile may also be due in part to the presence of a surface colluvial or
aeolian deposition.

Irrespective of the mechanism by which the coarse-textured surface layers have arisen,
their presence is a feature of considerable practical significance. For this reason the
depth of coarse-textured soil has been taken as an important factor in constructing a
local classification of the soils. For this purpose coarse-textured soil is taken to be soil
which in the field was assessed to be sand or loamy sand in texture. Comparison of field
texture assessment and the laboratory analysis of particle-size distribution showed that
the field assessment of texture generally underestimated the silt and clay fractions.
Where a soil had not more than 30% of silt plus clay it was usually assessed in the field
as a sand or loamy sand. For this reason, and also because the best soil-landscape corre-
lations were given by using this threshold in the local classification system, coarse-
textured horizons are taken to be those with not more than 30% of silt plus clay. Within
the soils of the Continental Terminal a major separation was recognised between soils
with more or less than 25 cm (10 in) of coarse-textured upper horizons. Soils with less
than 25 cm (10 in) of coarse-textured upper horizons are characteristically associated
with plateau situations, whereas on the colluvial slopes the coarse-textured horizon is
commonly thicker.

Most of the Continental Terminal soils are sandy clay loams or sandy clays in their
upper subsoils, though sandy loams and clays and rarely loamy sands and clay loams
occur. Again it should be pointed out that the field assessment of texture under-
estimated the silt and clay fractions. In the local soil classification scheme proposed
below, textural class of the upper subsoil has been used as a series criterion.

A study of the available data on particle-size distribution shows that in most of the
Continental Terminal soils the coarse sand plus very coarse sand fraction (500-2 0 0 0 M )
is generally less than 10%, frequently less than 5%; the remaining sand fractions, how-
ever, vary considerably between soils. Two contrasting particle-size distribution cumula-
tive curves are shown in Figures 23 and 24. In Figure 23 the cumulative curve is rela-
tively linear up to the 500ju point, flattening out above that, with a slight reduction in
slope at 250/i. In contrast Figure 24 shows a very marked sigmoid form with its maxi-
mum slope between 100 and 5 0 0 M . The two contrasting curves shown broadly


22 Ratio o
so Percentage clay x


FIGURE 21 Variation in clay content and fine sand/coarse sand

ratio ( 5 0 - 2 5 0 A » / > 2 5 0 M ) w '*n depth: Profile WAG
333, Misera Series 401

Profile WD 100 Profile WD 45 Profile WD 56
Ratio Ratio Ratio
2 0 I 2 0 1 2
T" T 1 1 1
Ol •+


W /i
/ /

80 -

+ +
o +
£ 100 -
a a + a.
a O o
120 - - CD



+ 1

Calculated regression line Approximate

FIGURE 22 Fine sand/coarse sand ratios, (20-200 M />200 M ), in some soils of Western Division (after Hill, 1968) 30
characterise* the rather different particle-size distribution patterns of plateau and
colluvial slope soils, plateau soils having cumulative curves of the general form of
Figure 23 and colluvial slope soils that of Figure 24.

Since the local classification is based as far as possible on field observable characteristics,
detailed aspects of particle size distribution are not used as classification criteria. How-
ever, the classification system used, in as much as it separates soils occupying different
landscape positions, also separates soils of different particle size distribution. The pre-
cise relevance of the differences in particle size distribution is not clear. It is generally
thought that a high proportion of silt and very fine sand has a deleterious effect on
porosity particularly in weakly structured soils. It will be demonstrated below that the
total of material of diameter less than 100/i in a soil may be important in influencing
both penetrability and cation exchange capacity. Observation within The Gambia sug-
gests that the finer soils of the plateau are less favoured for cultivation; a number of
factors may be involved but it is possible that greater difficulty is experienced in the
cultivation of these soils. The importance of particle size distribution in relation to the
moisture characteristics of the soil are considered in Part 9.

This discussion on particle size distribution of Continental Terminal soils is summarised


1. Most have over 90% of their particles in the <500M diameter class

2. Thsy si! have one or more upper horizons sandier than the ünueriyiny
horizons. The genesis of these coarser-textured layers is not fully understood;
they may have been developed by vertical or lateral clay movement, by
termite activity or they may be colluvial deposits. It seems likely that all these
processes may be involved to varying degrees. The depth of the coarse-textured
layers has been used as a parameter in the local classification system described

3. Subsoil textures vary, but most fall into the sandy clay loam or sandy clay
textural classes. The textural class of the upper subsoil is used as a classifying
criterion in the local classification. Cumulative curves show different patterns
of particle size distribution broadly associated with landscape position, soils
occupying plateau situations generally having a greater proportion of particles
in the <100/i fraction than colluvial soils

Soil density and porosity

Soil density has two facets, the mean density of individual particles of the soil (the
particle density) and the density of the soil mass in its undisturbed natural arrangement
(the bulk density). From particle and bulk densities, the total porosity of a soil can be

'Various ways of quantifying the different particle distribution patterns of the plateau and colluvial slope soils have
been tried but, not surprisingly, in soils with such a complex genesis, it has proved difficult to set diagnostic limits
to these two major units. It was found that the ratio 2-100/i:')l00/i (that is, of silt plus very fine sand, or fine silt plus
coarse silt on the basis of recent proposals, to sand coarser than 100(J) gave a range of values from 0.2 to more than
2.0. It was found in most cases that in colluvial slope soils this ratio was less than 0.6, whereas in plateau soils it
exceeded 0.6 in the subsoil and might exceed that value from the surface; in the plateau soils the non-clay fraction
is finer than in the soils of the colluvial slope. As a second criterion clay can be incorporated into this ratio to give
a simple fine to coarse ratio, <100/i:)l00/i. On this basis it is found that the plateau soils have a ratio of more than
2 in the subsoil whereas in the colluvial slope soils this ratio does not exceed 2 throughout the profile; in the sub-
soils of the plateau soils there is characteristically more than 66% of the soil in the (100/i class while in the colluvial
slope soils there is usually less than 66% of (100/i material throughout the profile. For example. Series 401 is a
series of predominantly colluvial slope soils while Series 419 is a commonly occurring plateau soil. Both are deep
soils with upper subsoil textures of sandy clay or clay. In the soils of Series 401 the ratio 2-100/i:)l00i-l never
exceeds 0.6 and the ratio <100/i:)l00jU lies between 1.1 and 1.9; in Series 419 the subsoil ratio 2-100/i:)l00|i
always exceeds 0.6 and may be as high as 1.4 and the ratio (l00JU:>100/i usually lies between 2.0 and 3.0 in the


100 Surface horizon —o

Transitional horizon —&
Upper subsoil horizon —»
Lower Subsoil horizon —*


£ 60

"3 50

s <o
». 30
C 20 •

50 100 250 500 1000 2000

Particle diameter (/u)

FIGURE 23 Cumulative frequency distribution of particle size; Profile WAG 326, Jar Kunda Series 419 Q

100 Surface horizon

Transitional horizon
Upper subsoil horizon
Lower subsoil horizon
ra 70

60 -

ra 40



50 100 2000

Particle diameter (ß)

FIGURE 2 4 Cumulative frequency distribution of particle size; Profile WAG 4 1 4 , Misera Series 401 O
Over 450 bulk density determinations were made on about 100 profiles of Continental
Terminal soils. Most of the bulk densities were in the range 1.65 to 1.85 g/cm^ though
densities as low as 1.45 g/crnß and as high as 2.01 g/crnß have been recorded. Inter-
quartile ranges for surface horizons tended to be about 1.60-1.75 g/cm^ while tran-
sitional and subsoil horizons have interquartile ranges of about 1.70-1.85 g/cwß. This
should not, however, obscure the fact that there is no consistent variation in bulk
density with depth, and that values as high as 1.86 g/cm^ have been recorded in surface
horizons. In this respect, these data contrast with the data of Kowal (1970a) who
showed, on similar soils in Nigeria, a regular increase in bulk density with depth. There
are few published bulk density values for Senegal and those given by Bertrand (1971)
tend to be lower and commonly in the range 1.5-1.7 g/cm^. Again there appears to be
little consistent variation within profiles or between soil units.

Reference to the correlation matrix, Table 12 shows that none of the factors considered
showed any significant correlation with bulk density. Multiple regression analysis of
bulk density against the primary soil physical components also was not meaningful.
This contrasts with the results of work by Shaykewich and Zwarich (1968) on some
Manitoba soils in which a multiple correlation of bulk density against organic matter,
clay, silt and very fine sand gave a highly significant coefficient of 0.805. This apparent
lack of correlation is probably due to the relatively small range of bulk density and
organic matter content. Shaykewich and Zwarich (1968) showed that of the factors in
the multiple correlation organic matter was the most important, while Curtis and Post
(1964) accounted for 94% of the variation in bulk density of some Vermont soils by
variation in organic matter. A further important consideration is that the soils studied
have very different cultivation histories so that possible correlations with primary soil
components may be masked by the varying degrees of disturbance at least in surface

An important fact to be emphasised is that the bulk density of most of the soils of the
Continental Terminal is high. Veihmeyer and Hendrickson (1948) proposed that root
growth was prevented at bulk densities of 1.7-1.8 g/cnri3 in sandy soils and at 1.45-1.65
g/cm3 in clay soils. Rather higher values were proposed by Zimmerman and Kardos
(1961); they reported that bulk densities which virtually excluded root penetration were
1.8 g/cm3 for two silty clay soils, 1.9 g/cm^ for a sandy loam/sandy clay loam and
2.0 g/crrß for a clay loam soil. Taylor and Gardner (1963) found that there was no
critical bulk density beyond which root penetration was prevented, but that penetra-
tion depended on both bulk density and moisture conditions. A t the bulk densities
encountered in most of the soils of the Continental Terminal, therefore, root penetra-
tion could be hindered and possibly prevented and this is obviously an important
practical consideration.

A small number of particle density determinations were made according to the method
given by Black (1965) and a range of values from 2.62 g/cm^ to 2.727 g/cm^ was
obtained. There were insufficient readings to permit any valid correlations with other
soil factors, but, on average, surface horizons had a slightly lower particle density
(2.64 g/cm^) than the underlying horizons (2.66 g/crn^).

From particle and bulk density data, total porosity was calculated and was normally
found to be between 30 and 40%. Similar values for porosity have been recorded by
Fauckef al. (1963) in Upper Casamance. In Middle Casamance, however, Baldensperger
et al. (1968) recorded a much greater range from profiles with 19-24% porosity to
others with 40-50% porosity but with no apparent regular variation with soil type.
No information was collected on pore size distribution but from field observation it
would appear that not more than about 5% of total porosity is accounted for by pores
greater than 0.5 mm diameter.

Soil penetrability

Soil penetrability was also determined at the sites where soil density was measured.
For any particular soil sample, penetrability is highly dependent on the water content,
values increasing rapidly at low water contents. Soil samples with differing particle
size distribution or bulk density can be expected to behave differently at similar water


TEB meq %
Bulk density g/ml

Penetration Resist-
Available P ppm

Organic C%

Base saturation %
CEC meq %

Moisture %
(Moisture %)2
ance lb/in2

Particle size distr. %

1 000-2 000/c
<50 M

250- 500//
500-1 000/1
100- 250/i

<2 M

50- 100/1

2- 50/1
e c


b Depth c m

b 1 000-2 000/i

r* P 6
b in 500-1 000/1
o o 0

-» o o 6
b 'c> b b 250-500/i

O UI (O O)



.-» o 6 6 6 6 50-100/i
'o 'ui — ' A w io
O Ol CO KJ Ol 0

- . p 6 6 6 o 6 2-50/i
b '-» co co M b
O Ä - • co UI co M

;-> 6 p 6 p 6 p 0
b - • 01 -0 i n '-> '-» <2/i
— 0 0 6 6 6 6 0 0
o c o o i n o - ' O i t n 2
— 0 0 0 0 6 6 6 0 0
b 01 i o ' M b u i b °^ b 2-100/i:>100/i

- . 0 0 0 6 6 6 6 6 0 0
b 'co b - J b co b i n '-> '-- '*. Moisture %
O - ' O l - ' I O M O O U - ' M

- . p p p 0 6 6 6 6 6 0 0 2
b io io co -o b co 'en i n '-. '-• (Moisture % )
O M C O O I O O M C O O M - .

- . 6 6 0 6 . 6 p p p p o ó 6 Organic C %
b '-> io b '-• io ro io '-» b "0 b O)
O 0 1 O 0 I C 0 I O 0 1 0 1 f t - J U \ l en

- . p o p p p 0 0 6 6 6 6 0 0
'0 'u '0 '0 '0 '-*'-*'-* 0 '-*'-* '0 0 b T E B meq %
00 M

.— p p p p p p p p p p p p 0 0
b 'co '-> o) b) 01 00 ' M M io ' M i n ' M "0 io C E C meq %
0 0 0 6 - > K J - ' O O I O U U I C O i D M

_. 6 0 0 6 6 6 6 6 6 0 0 0 0 6 6 Base s a t u r a t i o n %
b i o i n '-> ' * è io i n i n b iö * A b ' 0 'M
ocn->ooMcocncjio>5Moo-«cDui co

_-. 0 0 0 0 6 6 6 6 6 0 0 0 6 6 6 6
b '-» '-» u A ' 0 b b '-• io b io '-* b b 1» M Available P p p m
o u - ' O ^ o i r o o M - ' M i j i i o o i O A
co -» co

6 6 0 0 0 6 6 0 0 0 0 0 6 6 6 0 0
b b b b b b ' M ' M '-. '-. b '-> ' 0 ' 0 '-» ' 0 b P e n e t r a t i o n resistant:e l b / i n 2
o 5 0 0 > C n M - " M C n M M M O C O M C D M

.- 6 p p 6 6 p ó p 6 p p 6 6 0 0 0 0 p
o — io ' 0 '-» b ' M '-» " - * ' - . b b ' 0 b ' 0 '-« '-• b Bulk density g/ml
O M McöcoMOoco->cncoa>o9M-*o>cnM M
contents. Correlation between penetrability and other physical characteristics of the
soils sampled was poor; multiple regression of penetrability on soil physical components
explained only 25% of the variance (in penetrability determination) and most of this
was accounted for by the varying water content. No estimation of the effects of cultiva-
tion was made. Possibly if the analysis had been confined to soils in a single state of
cultivation more useful results would have been obtained. However, there is no doubt
that the experimental error in measuring penetrability is high.


Soil reaction (pH)

Nearly"all of the soils of the Continental Terminal are acid to some degree throughout
their profiles. The common pattern is for the pH to decrease from the surface to sub-
surface horizons, remaining relatively constant or continuing to decrease slightly with
depth below that. The surface horizon pH of most of the Continental Terminal soils
lies within the 5.8-6.4 range while subsoil pH is commonly 5.0-6.0. A number of deter-
minations of soil pH in 1/V KCl solution were made and readings generally were 0.7-1.4
pH units less than the corresponding values in water. This difference is within the range
which Fauck (1963) associates with ferrallitic soils.

No systematic relationships have been observed between pH and soil series. There
appears to be no major difference in pH between the soils of the plateau and those of
the colluvial slope, nor between the ferrallitic and ferruginous tropical soils, as is
generally expected of this classification. Maignien (1961) reports that the pH of the
deep horizons of the red soils may be more than one unit lower than the pH of the
deep horizons of the yellow soils. Fauck (1963) states that in the ferruginous tropical
soils the pH of the B horizon is always about 6.0 or higher while in weakly ferrallitic
soils the pH of the deep horizons generally lies in the range 4.5-5.5. A study of the
analytical data from the surveys of Upper and Middle Casamance (Fauck eta/., 1963;
Baldenspergeref a/., 1968) revealed a similar range of pH to that found on the
Continental Terminal soils of The Gambia. As in The Gambia there was usually no differ-
ence in pH characteristics between the various soil suites identified. An exception to
this was the sub-group of leached ferruginous tropical soils with concretions in which
the lowest pH was found in the subsurface eluvial horizon and in which the pH at depth
was higher than the surface pH. Fauck et al. (1963) also propose that within the sub-
group of leached ferruginous tropical soils with mottles, the soils developed in clayey
sand parent material show a smaller decrease in pH from surface to depth than do those
soils developed in a sandy clay parent material; the fall in pH with depth in the soils of
the cjäyey sands is often less than 0.5 units particularly in the dry season. This correla-
tion is however, rather tentative and in general it must be concluded that the soils of
the Continental Terminal all have similar pH characteristics, with medium or slightly
acid surface horizons overlying medium or strongly acid, possibly very strongly acid,

Conductivity and soluble cations

The conductivity of soil samples from the Continental Terminal never exceeded
50 Mmhos/cm and was commonly only 10-20 /xmhos/cm; no soluble cations were

Cation exchange capacity (CEC)

Cation exchange capacity is the total of exchangeable cations that a soil can absorb;
except where stated otherwise, it is expressed in this text as milliequivalents per 100g
of air dry soil (meq %).

Analysis of soil samples from the Continental Terminal gave CECs within the range
1.5-5.5 meq % soil. These are very low values indicating severe limitation to both
present and potential fertility. Regression analysis of CEC on clay, organic carbon,
silt and very fine sand gave a multiple correlation coefficient of 0.88, explaining

more than 77% of the variance in the sample data. Details of the analysis are given in
Table 13. It is obvious that clay and organic matter are the main sources of exchange
sites. It would appear that the clay has an exchange capacity of approximately 6 meq %,
while organic carbon contributes approximately 300 meq % to the exchange capacity.
The low exchange capacity of the clay is consistent with a kaolinitic clay system
(Ahn, 1970).

Table 13 Regression analysis of CEC on soil constituents

Regression coefficients
Regression of CEC on percentage of: _, Organic Fine correlation
cla term
V \. coefficient
carbon silt
at rtt ni
m /o 70

Clay 0.051 1.69 0.74

Clay and organic carbon 0.058 3.3 0.78 0.84
Clay and organic carbon and fine silt 0.059 2.9 0.034 0.30 0.88

The pattern of CEC variation within individual profiles varied depending mainly on
the relative rates of change in the amounts of clay and organic matter. An example is
given in Table 14 of data from soil profile WAG 337 showing the variation of CEC with

TABLE 14 Relationship between CEC, clay and organic carbon for soil profile WAG 337

Organic C
Depth Clay CEC
cm meq %

0- 26 14 0.29 2.5
26- 54 14 0.20 2.2
54- 78 22 0.15 3.0
78-105 38 0.14 3.8
105-134 36 0.12 3.4
134-174 32 0.11 3.1

Similar levels of CEC and similar patterns of change with depth are recorded for the
soils of the adjacent areas of Senegal. Although Maignien (1964) suggests that the CEC
of ferruginous tropical soils is 20-25 meq % of clay and that the CEC of ferrallitic soils
is < 1 0 meq % of clay, in The Gambia the value of CEC appears not t o exceed 10 meq %
of clay; nor is there any apparent difference in CEC between ferruginous tropical and
ferrallitic soils.

Exchangeable bases and base saturation

The total of exchangeable bases was very low and varies somewhat erratically with
depth; generally it tends t o decrease with depth commonly from 2.0-3.5 meq % in the
surface horizon to 1.5-3.0 meq % in the subsoil. However, this is not a consistent effect
and in some soils the total of exchangeable bases may actually increase with depth.
Further, there does not appear to be any correlation between the level of exchangeable
bases or their distribution within a profile on the one hand, and the landscape position
of a soil or its broad classification on the other.

Of the bases occupying exchange sites on the soil complex, calcium is generally in the
greatest proportion. Certainly in the upper horizons calcium always predominates,
although it is of interest that in some soils as calcium decreases with depth the relative
order of exchangeable calcium and magnesium may be reversed. Sodium and potassium
are present only at an extremely low level.

Similar observations have been made in the equivalent soils in Senegal. Fauck etal. (1963)
particularly note the relatively high values of magnesium especially in lower horizons and
suggest that this may lead to an imbalance of nutrient cations.

The proportion of exchange sites which are occupied by exchangeable bases, that is the
base saturations, has been considered an important feature in distinguishing the
Ferrallitic from the Ferruginous Tropical soils. Maignien (1961), Fauck (1963), Maignien
(1964) and Aubert (1965) have all described differences in the base saturation of
ferrallitic and ferruginous tropical soils. It is generally proposed that while ferrallitic
soils have low base saturation (<40%), the ferruginous tropical soils have moderate or
high base saturation (>60%). Within the Continental Terminal soils of The Gambia a very
wide range of base saturation is found, and the variation is generally as great within as
between soil units. Most soils show a decrease in base saturation from the surface
horizon with a value commonly between 80 and 100% to the subsoil horizons with
values commonly between 40 and 80%. In some profiles the lowest values for base
saturation are found immediately below the surface horizon. There seems to be a tend-
ency for the plateau soils, particularly those with the greatest evidence of drainage
impedence, to have rather lower base saturation in the subsoil horizons than the soils of
the colluvial slopes. It is of interest also that some very low values for base saturation
have been recorded in the subsurface horizons of the shallow plateau soils.

Available phosphorus

Available phosphorus, as measured by the method of Bray, was extremely low and
tends to decrease with depth. Values for available phosphorus commonly lie in the
range 4.5-6.0 ppm in surface horizons and 3.0-5.0 ppm in subsoil horizons. It is generally
proposed that values of available phosphorus of less than 7.0 ppm should be considered
below the level needed for reasonable crop growth (see for example, Searl, 1973). From
the correlation matrix (Table 12) it may be seen that the available phosphorus was most
strongly correlated with organic carbon.

Although available phosphorus is not generally recorded in the analyses of the soils in
adjacent areas of Senegal, on the basis of total phosphorus levels, Fauck etal. (1963),
Baldenspergeref al. (1968) and Bertrand (1971) have all emphasised that phosphorus
levels are low in these soils and liable to be a major constraint in crop production.

Soil organic matter

The level of soil organic matter as measured by the organic carbon was low. (All figures
given in this text refer to organic carbon; an approximate conversion to organic matter
is given by multiplying the figure for organic carbon by 1.72). In surface horizons
organic carbon commonly constitutes 0.3-0.4% of the soil mass. This value decreases in
the immediate subsurface horizon to a value commonly between 0.2 and 0.3%. The level
of organic carbon tends to decrease slowly with depth thereafter, generally falling to
0.1-0.2% by the lower subsoil. Exceptions to these figures were found particularly in the
shallow soils where the organic carbon content of surface horizons commonly lies
between 0.4 and 0.7% with the immediate subsurface horizons having 0.3-0.4% organic

The most important factor in determining the level of organic matter, at least in the
surface horizons, is the present vegetation and recent history of cultivation. Below
relatively undisturbed savannah on shallow soils, the level of organic carbon in the
surface horizon may be twice that in the soils currently being cultivated. Even in the
former, however, the level of organic matter is probably much reduced by the frequent
fires. Aubert (1962) records values of organic carbon under a savannah vegetation in
Casamance as 1.7-1.9%, this figure dropping to 0.8-1.0% after 2 years cultivation of

The total nitrogen in the soil is related to the soil organic matter. Again the levels were
very low, commonly 0.03-0.04% of soil mass in surface horizons, tending to decrease
slightly with depth but with levels still commonly in the range 0.02-0.04%. As with

organic carbon the levels of total nitrogen were usually higher in the soils which are
uncultivated, with values commonly in the range 0.04-0.07% in surface horizons and
0.03-0.04% in subsurface horizons. The ratio of carbon to nitrogen, generally taken as
indicative of the degree of humification of the soil organic matter, usually decreases
with depth in the profile. So, C:N ratios in surface horizons were commonly between
10 and 14, in transitional horizons between 6 and 10, and in subsoil horizons between
4 and 8.

There does not appear to be any information on the optimum levels of organic carbon
or total nitrogen in the soil, nor on optimum values of C:N ratio. There is no doubt
that the organic matter component of the soil has a profound effect on both physical
and chemical features of the soil environment. Organic matter is the main reserve of
soil nitrogen, and during its decomposition may also liberate many other essential
nutrients. Asxolloidal humus, the soil organic matter provides a large surface area of
negative charge and thus contributes considerably to the cation exchange capacity
(CEC) of the soil. The figure of 300 meq % was given above as the CEC of the soil
organic matter and this high figure probably reflects the strongly decomposed nature
of the organic matter. An increase in the content of raw organic matter has little
immediate effect on CEC, but the capacity increases as the raw matter breaks down to
colloidal humus. Soil organic matter can absorb many times its own weight of water
and is therefore important in determining the water storage capacity of a soil. Finally
organic matter has an important role in the development of a stable soil macrostructure.
Aubert (1962) shows that structural stability, as indicated by the index of stability (l s )
r\f U A n i n nr*ri A/I ,-..-.„ I „ - M O C C V I~-. — ~~ - - -f_~_ /"» 1 1 /.*.UI_ _«._.. _ i \ j . _ 1 O "7 /
vsi n o u i i u i v i u i i n i c i \i<J%J\Jif 11iv^icaacd M U I I I \J.£.£. \ a i o u i c a u uwiui c/ LU i . 0 / \vci y
unstable structure) as organic carbon reduces from 5.2% t o 1.7%. Similar reductions in
structural stability with decreasing organic matter were noted by Fauck et al. (1963)
in Upper Casamance.
It would seem that the present level of organic matter in these soils is low, certainly in
terms of aiding structural stability, and the relatively low C:N ratios indicate that it is
unlikely that there will be much further breakdown of the organic matter with the con-
sequent release of minerals.

Total contents (phosphorus, potassium and magnesium)

The total contents of phosphorus, potassium and magnesium have been measured by
perchloric acid digestion and are expressed as parts per million of the element.

The level of total phosphorus tends to increase with depth being commonly between
60 and 100 ppm in the surface horizon and 80 and 140 ppm in subsoil horizons. There
does not appear to be any substantial difference in total phosphorus content between
any of the soil units or major groupings by landscape situation. It may be noted that
Aubert (1962) has suggested that total phosphorus can give a better indication of crop
yield-phosphate relationships than measures of available phosphorus.

Levels of total potassium also increase with depth. The level of total potassium in plateau
soils is generally between 500 and 1 100 ppm in surface horizons and between 1 600
and 2 700 ppm in the subsoil. Colluvial slope soils, however, generally have 300-500
ppm in surface horizons and 600-1 500 ppm in the subsoil. These marked differences
in total potassium appear to be largely related to the proportions of finer particles in
the soil. In discussing particle size distribution, it was noted that in the soils associated
with the plateau there was a higher proportion of material in the < 1 0 0 M range. The
lowest total potassium contents mainly occur in the coarsest-textured soils.

Total magnesium contents commonly range between 150 and 400 ppm in surface
horizons, and between 400 and 900 ppm in the subsoil. There appears to be a rather
higher magnesium content in the plateau soils, but the difference is less marked than
in the case of potassium content.

The soils of the alluvium
The soils developed in the alluvium deposited by the River Gambia and its tributaries
are very different from those developed in the Continental Terminal. The latter soils
show a remarkable degree of uniformity in many characteristics, but the alluvial soils
present a far greater range of morphological, physical and chemical characteristics and
it is therefore less easy to give a generalised description of them.


Soil depth

The alluvial soils, unlike the soils of the Continental Terminal, are very rarely limited in
depth by the occurrence of ironpan (cuirasse). In a few situations, stony layers (appar-
ently depositional) occur within the normal profile and occasionally, particularly
towards the junction with the colluvium, an in situ seepage ironpan layer may occur.

In the alluvial soils the watertable is liable t o limit effective soil depth. In the western
half of the country both adjacent to the River Gambia and in the lower reaches of its
main tributaries, the watertable in the alluvial soils is liable to be close to the surface
throughout the year and subject to tidal fluctuation. Elsewhere the watertable in the
alluvial soils is usually deep during the dry season, but may be close to or above the
ground surface in the wet season although there remain some higher-lying alluvial soils
in which the watertable is never close to the surface.

Horizon differentiation

The alluvial soils show considerable horizon differentiation mainly on the basis of
colour and colour-mottle patterns. Organic matter, structure and sometimes texture
may also show marked vertical variation. The surface horizon is usually higher in
organic matter and extends to a greater depth than the surface horizon of Continental
Terminal soils and it is often divided into a number of sub-horizons. The content of
organic matter is not, however, sufficiently great t o a sufficient depth for the surface
horizons of most soils to qualify as true organic horizons, although this may not be
true of some of the mangrove soils.

These humic surface horizons (essentially A-j horizons in the USDA nomenclature)
tend to pass directly and fairly abruptly to subsoil horizons without an elluvial (A2) or
transitional (A3, B-j) horizon so that most of the remainder of the profile would be
designated B2 on the USDA system. As stated above, the vertical variation in colour
often leads to considerable subdivision of the subsoil horizons. It is also a feature of
the more strongly structured alluvial soils that the size, shape and degree of development
of structural peds may vary vertically within the subsoil.

In a number of the alluvial soils, the lower subsoil may show little evidence of pedo-
genetic processes. Rooting is absent and a somewhat laminated layer occurs indicative
of a deposition pattern. This may be considered true parent material (the C horizon of
the USDA system) or at least be material transitional to the parent material (the B3
horizon of the USDA system).


Nearly all of the soils of the alluvium are hydromorphic soils according t o the local
classification system outlined below. That is, within 125 cm (50 in) of the surface,
the matrix exhibits gley colours (usually 'grey'), or within 50 cm (20 in) there are
more than 10% gley spot mottles. The surface horizons are darker than underlying
horizons because of the incorporated organic matter; they are commonly dark grey
(10 YR 4/1) or dark greyish brown (10 YR 4/2) when dry becoming very dark grey
(10 YR 3/1), very dark greyish brown (10 YR 3/2) or black (10 YR 2/1) when wet.
The subsoil of hydromorphic soils is variable in colour. Except within the wettest of

alluvial soils the matrices do not incorporate the olive grey, bluish grey or greenish grey
colours associated with reduced iron. The grey colours, then, probably indicate that the
iron, having been reduced in waterlogged conditions, is subsequently removed in a
leaching process. This must be remembered when relating soil colour to drainage status
of the soils; grey colours may not always indicate present-day conditions of waterlogging.

Some of the higher-lying alluvial soils, notably on the levees at the eastern end of the
country, are not hydromorphic and in the extreme condition may have profiles with a
colour sequence not dissimilar to some of the colluvial slope soils.


The outstanding characteristic of most of the alluvial soils is the very high proportion
of silt and clay, generally over 80%. The proportion of silt to clay varies between and
within profiles. There is a tendency for clay content to be lower in surface horizons,
and silt proportionately greater, and for silt plus clay to increase with depth. In some
profiles the clay content may show a distinct maximum in a subsurface horizon, but
the highly variable distribution of clay and silt in other profiles suggests that much of
the variability is probably depositional and little should be inferred in terms of pedo-
genesis from the textural profile.

Towards the edge of the more extensive alluvial areas, but occurring right across some
of the narrowest alluvial areas, are sandy inclusions within the soils. These may have
the form of a sand subsoii underlying fine-textured upper horizons or a rather irregular
mixture of coarser and finer-textured layers. It is possible that the coarse-textured
inclusions are colluvial rather than alluvial in origin and these soils should properly be
considered as colluvio-alluvial. Some very sandy alluvial soils do occur on the higher-
lying levees in the eastern end of the country, and Giglioli and Thornton (1965) have
noted the occurrence of sandy layers in some parts of the mangrove swamps of Keneba.

For the local classification system outlined below, the alluvial soils have been subdivided
into those with more than 80% silt and clay, and those which include coarser-textured


In contrast to the soils of the Continental Terminal, many of the alluvial soils have
extremely well developed structure. The strongest structure has usually been observed
in the slough soils at the eastern end of the country. While there may be a narrow
structureless surface layer, the underlying soil commonly has strong or very strong
blocky structure which may become coarser with depth. Towards the base of the pro-
file, pedogenetic structural development tends to decrease, sometimes being replaced by
the layered structure of the parent material. In the wettest soils of the western end of
the country, structure is obviously much less well developed, but even here there may
be development of a fairly strong prismatic structure or a moderate subangular blocky
structure. In the central alluvial region there seems to be a difference in structural
development between the lower-lying grassland soils and the slightly higher woodland
soils. In the former there is usually a strong structure -granular or subangular blocky in
the surface horizons becoming prismatic with depth. In the higher-lying soils the struc-
ture is less strongly developed and tends to be subangular blocky throughout.

Structure itself has not been used as a parameter in the local classification system, but
when soils are separated into their landscape positions, structure tends to vary between


In undisturbed soil a very strongly structured horizon may be designated soft or loose
when dry because there is little cohesion between the individual peds; such peds, how-
ever, may be extremely difficult to break down in this dry condition and they are very
hard or hard. This observation may not apply in moist or wet conditions where these
very fine-textured soils are sticky and plastic.

In the less well structured soils consistence is mainly a function of texture and is rela-
tively unaffected by moisture.


Porosity in the alluvial soils is of a very different nature to that in the soils of the
Continental Terminal. Because of the strong structure of many of the alluvial soils,
the fissures between peds (or planar voids) make an important contribution to the
porosity. The exact nature of their contribution depends on the continuity of these
fissures and the extent to which they are liable to close as the soil is wetted. The
porosity within the ped varies but is usually fairly high. However a common feature
of the peds is that the surface either has a cutanic coating or has been smeared by
movement between peds so that there are very few pores which have an exit to the ped
surface. This is often reflected in a marked difference in colour between ped surface
and ped interior*. In the less well structured alluvial soils, porosity usually appears to be
moderately high, although often with rather fewer very fine (<1 mm) pores than were
noted in the Continental Terminal soils and usually with more of the larger grades of
pores. Porosity in the more recent alluvial soils is usually low.


Cutans are frequently, though not universally, recorded in the soils of the alluvium and
are sometimes thick and strongly developed. Pressure faces have also been observed in
some of the soils and it is possible that in some instances there has been confusion in
differentiating between cutans and pressure faces. Attempts to correlate the field
identification of cutans with increases in the clay content have not been successful, but
the depositional variation in texture of these soils may well mask any clay shift. It
appears that very finely divided organic matter contributes to some well developed
cutans whereas in other soils very fine white sand is found covering vertical ped surfaces.

In the most recent alluvial soils of the mangrove areas described by Giglioli and
Thornton (1965) no cutans were observed, but in some of the soils immediately behind
the mangrove, cutans were observed in pores and on ped surfaces. Care should be taken
in interpreting the presence of cutans but in most cases it would seem likely that there
has been some vertical movement of clay, though relative to the amount present it may
be very little.

Other concentrations

Soft or moderately hard concentrations of sesquioxide are frequently present in the

alluvial soils though they are rarely more than 5-10% of any horizon. Concentrations
of manganese dioxide are also present in some profiles, as discrete concentrations or in
combination with the sesquioxide concentrations.

Of greater practical significance is the presence of concentrations associated with high

sulphate levels. In soils currently flooded by seawater or subject to seawater inundation
in the past, sulphates are liable to have accumulated. Under anaerobic conditions and
in the presence of certain bacteria the sulphate is reduced to sulphide. Inorganic
sulphides accumulate in the soil through the formation of the iron disulphides, pyrite
or marcasite. Within a period of weeks or months of the advent of oxidation conditions
in pyritic mudsjarosite (K Fe3 ( S O ^ t O H J g ) is produced which forms pale yellow
accumulations on ped faces and along root channels.

* l n a soil with a strongly developed structure where there are few pores connecting ped surface and ped interior,
the ped surface is often grey and unmottled, while the ped interior colours may be much brighter and mottled.
The grey surface colours probably result from saturated conditions in the fissures leading to reduction and
probably leaching of iron from the ped surface, while low ped permeability results in drier conditions within the
ped, the presence of oxidised iron forms and consequently brighter interior colours. It must be emphasised, how-
ever, that the variation in all characteristics within the soil of the alluvium is considerable and porosity is no
exception. Low ped permeability is apparently more common, but in some soils there is a fairly high pore density
on the ped surface and in this case the interior may be more gleyed than the surface because the interior remains
wet longer.

In older acid sulphate soils from which the hydrogen and sulphate ions have been
leached and/or neutralised the jarosite tends to hydrolyse. A t the same time, especially
along pores and channels, the ferric hydroxide will be easily dehydrated giving rise to
goethite and even haematite (van Dam and Pons, 1973). This is the source of iron pipes
(Vieillefon, 1973) and the strong red mottles common in many of the acid sulphate

The occurrence, then, of pale yellow concentrations of jarosite on ped faces and along
root channels, of brown tubes along old root channels and of dark red concentrations
usually in the upper horizons are all features extremely important in identifying acid
sulphate soils. Such concentrations were features of the soils assigned to the Mandori
and Salikene Series and the areas in which these series predominated were often charac-
terised by a surface scatter of dark red concretions. The development of some of these
acid sulphate characteristics in The Gambia is described by Giglioli and Thornton (1965).


Soil reaction (pH)

There exists within the alluvial soils a large range in pH which has been used as a para-
meter in their local classification. Soil pH is considered again in the brief descriptions
of individual series but a general discussion is presented here.

pH varies seasonally in many of the alluvial soils and all discussion here refers to
measurements made during the dry season.

The cycle of sulphur in soils affected by salt water was discussed above. In more or less
permanent anaerobic conditions the sulphur remains in a reduced condition as sulphide
or polysulphide, and there is no increase in acidity. Thornton and Giglioli (1965) showed
that in the Rhizophora soils, flooded by all or most spring tides and in which the water-
table never fell below 15-30 cm (6-12 in) at neap tides during the dry season, the pH of
the soil lay between 6.0 and 7.0. On slow air drying, however, the pH fell to between
2.5 and 5.0. In the very slightly higher-lying soils behind the mangrove areas, often
referred to as the barren flats (or 'tannes' of the French literature), oxidising conditions
have led to an increase in acidity. In the profiles of the Mandori Series (see below) in
this area pH values of between 3.0 and 5.0 have been recorded. These soils were
sampled during the dry season and pH values during the wet season might be up to a
unit higher. It should be noted, however, that the samples had been dried prior to the
measurement of pH, and although drying had been rapid to avoid depression of pH by
further oxidation, it is possible that these values are lower than under field conditions.
Thornton and Giglioli (1965) recorded field pH values in the barren flat soils of between
4.5 and 5.5, these values falling to 2.5-4.0 on slow drying. Thus in all soils currently or
previously affected by brackish waters extreme acidity may have developed or at least
have the potential to develop.

Elsewhere in the alluvial areas the soil reaction is related to the base status of the parent
material and the extent to which leaching has depleted the bases. It seems that most of
the alluvium is of moderate or low base status except for a calcareous deposit identified
by Cooper (1927) near Walli Kunda. At the eastern end of the country the alluvial soils
appear to have been quite strongly leached and they have a pH in the range 4.5-6.0.
Most of the alluvial soils of MacCarthy Island Division tend to be rather less acid with

'Van Breemen (1973) has proposed the following profile development in acid sulphate soils. In the youngest soils
the py'rite distribution reflects the situation in the original mud. Shallow drainage results in acidification of the
surface soil, in the next stage jarosite appears, and as the soils become older and better drained the horizons of
jarosite and pyrite occur at progressively greater depth. As the jarosite horizon moves downwards its hydrolysis
causes ferric oxide to accumulate in its place. A very comprehensive study of acid sulphate soils has been published
recently by Bloomfield and Coulter (1973).

pH values of 5.1-7.3 and have a higher base saturation than those soils further east (see
below). Soils occur with mildly or moderately alkaline horizons and very high base
saturation throughout. These soils are probably associated with the outcropping of the
Walli Kunda Calcareous Sandstone (Cooper, 1927).

Conductivity and soluble cations

The conductivity of the soils of the alluvium is largely a function of the extent to
which the soils are or have been influenced by brackish water and it varies with the
season. During the dry season the River Gambia becomes saline almost to Kudang and
those areas flooded by the river below this point become saline. During the rains, the
saline water recedes and infiltrated rainwater and non-saline floodwater from the river
wash out the salts which have accumulated in the soil. In this survey all sampling was
done during the dry season and all conductivity values may be considered as 'maximum
conductivity values'. Conductivity (measured on 1:5 soil : water extracts) ranges
within the alluvial soils from 0.1-15 mmhos/cm and probably more in some of the man-
grove areas not studied on this survey. Since conductivity is obviously a most import-
ant characteristic of the soil it has been used as a parameter in the local classification
of the hydromorphic soils.

Because saturation extracts are difficult, particularly in these fine-textured soils, con-
ductivity has been measured in 1:5 soihwater extracts. The relationship between the
conductivity of the diluted extract and the saturated extract is dependent on the salts
involved and there is no clear conversion. However, assuming that there is no gypsum
in the system, the relationship EC (saturated extract) = 6.4 x EC(1:5 extract)
may be used as a rough approximation (see Talsma, 1968; Loveday eta/., 1972). On
this basis it is proposed that an EC (1:5) value of approximately 0.5 mmhos/cm be
taken as the limit between saline and non-saline soils, this broadly corresponding to
the widely accepted value of EC (sat. ext.) of 5 mmhos/cm as the arbitrary boundary
between saline and non-saline soils (Searl, 1973). Between EC (1:5) values of 0.5 and
1.0 mmhos/cm salinity may be a hazard for the less salt-tolerant crops but will probably
not be a major problem, while at EC (1:5) values of > 1.0 mmhos/cm many crops are
liable to suffer a marked decrease in yield and salinity should normally be considered
a serious problem (see Richards et al., 1954).

Obviously salinity, and hence conductivity, will decrease with distance from the mouth
of the river and will vary with the season. During the dry season, EC (1:5) values of
>0.5 mmhos/cm were not found east of Kudang, and during the rains the soils were
sufficiently non-saline for local varieties of rice to be grown to the western extremes
of the country.

Soluble cations were measured but only sodium was found to be present. The level of
this was related to the extent of inundation by the brackish water. Values of over
30 meq of soluble Na per 100g soil have been recorded and higher values than this
would undoubtedly be found in some mangrove soils.

Cation exchange capacity (CEC)

The CEC of the alluvial soils is very much higher than that of the soils of the Continental
Terminal. The higher levels of CEC derive from the greater organic matter content, the
fine texture of these soils, and the nature of the clay fraction. Values vary considerably
within the alluvial soils but commonly lie in the range 10-20 meq per 100g of soil
rather higher values are found in some of the more organic horizons. From the horizons
of lower organic matter content, approximate values for the CEC of the clay may be
calculated; values of CEC/100g clay were commonly of 20-30 meq. This would suggest
a mixed clay fraction of mainly kaolinite with either illite or rather less montmorillonite
or both (usually < 1 0 meq in kaolinite, about 40 in illite and 80-100 in montmorillonite).

Exchangeable bases and base saturation

The exchangeable bases and base saturation characteristics of the alluvial soils fall into
three regional groups. In those alluvial soils of western Gambia which are or have been

subject to saline water inundation, sodium constitutes an important part of the
exchange complex. Levels of exchangeable sodium are commonly 2-9 meq%, and the
exchangeable sodium percentage usually exceeds the 15% level commonly used to
separate alkali from non-alkali soils. Sodium is usually at lower concentration than
magnesium on the exchange complex, the latter commonly being of 3-14 meq %. In
surface horizons of the saline soils calcium may be at a fairly high level and may exceed
the levels of sodium or magnesium but at depth it is always less than sodium or magne-
sium. Potassium is the least common cation, exchangeable potassium ranging from
0.2-1.5 meq % but usually constituting at least 2% of the total exchangeable bases.

In the alluvial soils in the central portion of the country, calcium is usually the predom-
inant cation on the exchange complex. Exchangeable calcium levels usually lie between
4 and 16 meq %. Magnesium is commonly the next most abundant cation at 2-8 meq %.
In some of these soils both sodium and potassium levels are low but in others sodium
may be rather higher, with exchangeable sodium percentages of up to 11%, and potas-
sium very low, constituting in some cases less than 2% of the total exchangeable bases.

A t the eastern end of the country the total of exchangeable bases (TEB) in the alluvial
soils tends to be lower. Calcium is always the predominant cation in the exchange com-
plex in surface horizons and usually is the predominant cation throughout, although in
some subsoil horizons magnesium may be slightly higher. The level of sodium usually
exceeds that of potassium.

Base saturation varies wideiy and has been used as a criterion in part of the local
classification system. The lowest level of base saturation in the alluvial soils is found at
the eastern end of the country where base saturation usually does not exceed 60% at
least within 50 cm (20 in) of the surface. Base saturations consistently over 75%, and
often of 100%, occur in the soils of alkaline reaction in the central part of the country
and in the non-alkaline soils of this area base saturation is usually >60%. Within the
saline soils a fairly wide range of base saturation levels is found, generally between 40
and 100%.

Available phosphorus

The methods of Olsen and Bray were used to extract available P in alkaline and acid
soils respectively (see Part 7).

In the alkaline soils, zero available phosphorus was the most frequently recorded but
surface horizons had values between zero and 5 ppm. In most of these soils only one
horizon or sometimes no horizon had any measurable available phosphate.

In the non-alkaline soils available P was commonly between 3 and 10 ppm and was
usually greater in surface horizons than in the underlying soil. Rather greater values
than this have been recorded in some of the upper horizons of alluvial soils in the
central parts of the country. An exceptional value of 360 ppm available P was found
in one soil and levels over 60 ppm occurred in some subsurface horizons. These high
available P values normally occurred in a horizon of high organic matter content, and
more normal values of 3-10 ppm were found in the lower subsoil. One rather high value
of 18 ppm was found in a lower subsoil which contained a buried organic horizon.

In the soils of alkaline reaction, available P would be classed as low throughout, except
for a few surface horizons which might be classed as medium. In the acid or neutral
soils, it is mainly low or medium, rarely high (see Searl, 1973).

Soil organic matter

Considering the wide variation in the alluvial soil environment excluding the mangrove
soils,there is a remarkable degree of uniformity in organic matter content.

In most of the alluvial soils the organic carbon content of the surface horizon occurred
in the range 0.5-2.0%, but higher values than this have been recorded. A value of 24%
organic C was recorded in one soil, and in other soils of the same series (307) which
occur in the lower-lying alluvial areas in the centre of the country, values were commonly
between 1.5 and 6.0%. Below the surface horizon there is usually a sharp decrease in the
organic carbon to between 0.4 and 0.9%. Organic C decreases (not always regular) with
depth, falling to 0,1 - 0.5% in lower subsoil horizons of most soils.

Total nitrogen follows a similar pattern. In surface horizons there is commonly between
0.1 and 0.3%total N, though in those soils with higher levels of organic matter total
N contents of up to 1% have been recorded. With depth it decreases to 0.01 - 0.05%.

Garbon-to-nitrogen ratios usually decrease from surface horizon values of 10-15 to

subsoil horizon values of 4-11.

Although no mangrove soils were analysed during this survey, the data of Giglioli and
Thornton (1965) indicate that considerably higher organic matter contents are
encountered in the mangrove soils. Rosevear (1947) observed that the extensive
capillary root system of Rhizophora forms a thick fibrous peat-like soil, while a much
less organic soil is developed under Avicennia which has a comparatively poorly-
developed system of rootlets. Giglioli and Thornton (1965) recorded organic carbon
levels in surface horizons of between 5.0 and 10.0%, and in deep horizons of between
1.8 and 7.9% for a range of soils under Rhizophora. Under Avicennia, surface horizon
organic carbon contents were between 2.7 and 6.2%; in deep horizons the organic
carbon content was in some cases fairly low (1.1 - 3.5%), but in other cases was at a
high level (5.5 - 9.4%), suggesting a previous colonisation of these soils by Rhizophora.

Total contents (potassium, magnesium and phosphorus)

The total potassium, magnesium and phosphorus contents of the alluvial soils are
higher than those of the Continental Terminal soils. Although there is a wide range in
total contents there does not appear to be any well defined pattern of distribution
between areas or between series, and indeed the variation in total contents within an
individual profile may be quite considerable.

Total potassium was usually in the range 2 000 - 10 000 ppm. Total magnesium was
always lower than potassium in any profile - commonly 700 - 4 000 pmm - though
rather higher values, up to 9 500, were recorded in some of the saline soils. Total
phosphorus was usually highest in the surface horizon and may show a regular decrease
or irregular variation with depth. Total phosphorus in surface horizons was usually
between 200 and 600 ppm though considerably higher values have been recorded in
some horizons of exceptionally high organic matter content. Below the surface horizon,
total phosphorus content was usually between 100 and 400 ppm.

Soil characteristics and soil classification


For Gambian soils, it was found that none of the major existing classification systems
produced groupings which were agriculturally significant or easily mappable,
consequently a local system of practical value was established. The relationship between
the local classification and the systems of ORSTOM, USDA and FAO are shown in
detail in Appendix I.

From an understanding of the general characteristics of Gambian soils, a framework was

evolved for the grouping of the soils into mutually exclusive units; most of these units
may be considered to be series according to the definition given by the USDA (1951),
The distribution of the series within associations is described in Part 10. In selecting
the diagnostic criteria for the characterisation of series, three broad principles were
1. The characteristics, as far as possible, should be easily identified in the field
or with a minimum of laboratory input

2. The characteristics should be of practical implication

3. Groupings resulting from the application of the diagnostic criteria should

have some sort of recognisable spatial arrangement



The meaning of depth in the context of these soils was discussed above, but to
recapitulate briefly it was proposed that the limit to the depth of a soil be taken as the
start of a layer comprising more than 60% of hardened ironpan.

Depth categories are recognised as follows:

1. Deep: 125 cm (50 in) deep or more

2. Shallow: less than 125 cm (50 in) deep

i. Very shallow: less than 25 cm (10 in) deep

ii. Moderately shallow: 25-74 cm (10-29 in) deep

iii. Slightly shallow: 75-124 cm (30-50 in) deep

For the purpose of the keys given below a further factor is taken into account — the
occurrence of plinthite within 125 cm (50 in) of the surface. Plinthite, as defined by
the USDA (1973) is the sesquioxide-rich, humus-poor, highly weathered mixture of
clay with quartz and other diluents which hardens irreversibly on undergoing repeated
wetting and drying. For practical purposes it is recognised in The Gambia as a highly
mottled horizon with more than 60% of red and dark red mottles and/or soft or
moderately hard concretions.


Freely drained soils

Within the freely drained soils (see below) two aspects of soil texture are taken into

Surface textural features Although they are normally ignored at series level, it was felt
in this case that in view both of the practical relevance of the surface textural features
and of the correlation of these with landscape position, account should be taken of
them at series level in the local classification. The criterion which is used is the depth
to which coarse-textured soil extends from the surface. Coarse-textured soil has been
defined as soil in which there is not more than 30% of silt plus clay. A t series level,
soils with a deep coarse-textured surface are separated from those with a shallow
coarse-textured surface according to the scheme shown below; further subdivisions are
proposed as phase distinctions.

1. Shallow coarse-textured surface: not > 2 5 c m ( 1 0 in) to an horizon with

> 30% silt plus clay

i. Very shallow coarse-textured surface: < 10 cm (4 in) to an horizon

with > 30% silt plus clay

ii. Moderately shallow coarse-textured surface: 10-25 cm ( 4 - 1 0 in) to an
horizon with > 30% silt plus clay

2. Deep coarse-textured surface: > 25 cm (10 in) to an horizon with > 30%
silt plus clay

i. Moderately deep coarse-textured surface: 26-50 cm (10-20 in) to an

horizon with > 30% silt plus clay

ii. Very deep coarse-textured surface: 51-100 cm (20-40 in) to an horizon

with > 30% silt plus clay

iii. Extremely deep coarse-textured surface: > 100 cm (> 40 in) to an

horizon with > 30% silt plus clay

Upper subsoil texture The textural class of the upper subsoil horizons, according to the
definition given by the USDA (1951), is used as a criterion in the series definition. For
the purpose of the local classification system the finest texture occurring over at least
10 cm (4 in) within 125 cm (50 in) of the surface is taken as diagnostic, and the
following categories are recognised:

1. Sandy clay or clay

2. Sandy clay loam or clay loam

3. Sandy loam

4. Sand or loamy sand

It might appear unsatisfactory to group clays with sandy clays and clay loams with
sandy clay loams. In the field the textural classes clay and clay loam were rarely
recorded and subsequent analysis of particle size distribution has shown that soils
which strictly fell in those classes do so with a narrow margin from a sandier class.

It was pointed out above that a possibly more useful description of texture was given
by cumulative curves, by the ratio of particles 2-100 ju to particles > 1 0 0 M , or simply
by the proportion of material < 1 0 0 y.. It would be unrealistic to propose a local
classification system which was dependent on the availability of detailed particle size
distribution analyses. It was found, however, that from a combination of the surface
textural class and the upper subsoil textural class, groupings derive with farily uniform
particle size distributions.

Where texture is used in subdividing the shallow soils,the textural groups given above
are used, based on the finest texture within the profile.

Hydromorphic soils

For the hydromorphic soils (see below) a rather simpler textural subdivision has been
used. Most of the hydromorphic soils are developed in the alluvium and have a particle
size distribution dominated by the silt and clay fractions (commonly >80% silt plus
clay). Because of the depositional nature of the alluvial soils the proportion of silt to
clay can be quite variable between profiles in an otherwise fairly uniform soil group
/and even within a single profile. In the keys presented below, no attempt is made to
distinguish between the more silty and more clayey soils, but in describing the individual
series some reference will be made t o the silt to clay ratios. The textural categories
recognised as diagnostic in the local classification system for the hydromorphic soils
are as follows:

1. Fine—clay, silty clay or silty clay loam to at least 125 cm (50 in) with the
possible exception of a silt loam surface horizon

2. Fine over medium or coarse—clay, silty clay or silty clay loam upper horizons
overlie horizons of texture sandy clay loam or coarser within 125 cm (50 in)
of the surface

3. Medium— not finer than sandy clay within 125 cm (50 in) of the surface,
but finer than sandy loam

4. Coarse — not finer than sandy loam within 125 cm (50 in) of the surface

5. Coarse over medium or fine — clay content increases with depth; sand,
loamy sand or sandy loam surface horizons overlie sandy clay loam to clay
ei iKertile \A/i+Kïr» 1 9 K /»m / K O ! n \ n f ciirfQ/»o
i/UW</Wlltl VVIklflll I *^W Will \ ISW •••/ \* • **•-• I • * J \ * \ *

6. Irregular — fine, medium and coarse textured horizons are irregularly

distributed within 125 cm (50 in)


On the basis of their colour the soils are divided into two groups, freely drained and

Freely drained soils

Soils which do not fulfil the conditions of a hydromorphic soil (see below) are
considered to be freely drained soils. The freely drained soils are subdivided on the
basis of colour according to the following scheme:

F1 Soils in which the upper subsoil has a matrix colour which is red, dark red or
yellowish red and in which there are no gley mottles, and not more than 2% red
and yellow mottles

F2 i. Soils in which the upper subsoil matrix is red, dark red or yellowish red and
has 1% gley mottles and/or 3 - 4% red and yellow mottles

ii. Soils in which the upper subsoil matrix colour is 5 YR 6/8 or 5 YR 7/8 with
less than 2% gley mottles and less than 5% red and yellow mottles

iii. Soils in which the upper subsoil matrix colour is of value 6 or more and
chroma 5 or 6 with less than 2% gley mottles and less than 5% red and yellow

F3 Soils in which the upper subsoil matrix colour is of value less than 6 and/or chroma
greater than 6, but excluding colours described as red, dark red, yellowish red or
with the notation 5 YR 6/8 or 5 YR 7/8, with less than 2% gley mottles and less
than 5% red and yellow mottles

F4 Soils in which the upper subsoil matrix colour is of value less than 6, and/or is of
chroma more than 6, with 2 - 5% gley mottles and/or 5 - 20% red and yellow

F5 i. Soils in which the upper subsoil matrix colour is of value 6 or more and
chroma 5 or 6, with 2 - 5% gley mottles and/or 5 - 20% red and yellow

ii. Soils in which the upper subsoil matrix colour is of value 6 or more and
chroma 3 or 4, with less than 2% gley mottles and less than 5% red and
yellow mottles.

iii. Soils in which the upper subsoil matrix colour is of value less than 6 and/or
chroma greater than 6, with 5 - 20% gley mottles and/or more than 20% red
and yellow mottles

F6 i. Soils in which the upper subsoil matrix colour is of value 6 or more and
chroma 5 or 6, with more than 5% gley mottles and/or more than 20% red
and yellow mottles

ii. Soils in which the upper subsoil matrix colour is of value 6 or more and
chroma 3 or 4, with 2% or more gley mottles and/or 5% or more red and
yellow mottles

iii. Soils in which the upper subsoil has more than 20% gley mottles

In assessing the colour class of a soil, the upper subsoil colour should be judged on the
lowest horizon with an expression of at least 10 cm (4 in) within 125 cm (50 in) of the
surface. Any horizons above this which fulfil the same texture and colour criteria
would be included as part of the upper subsoil. Colour class is always based on the
moist colours.

Assignation of colour class within the'freely drained soils may be clarified by reference
to Table 15.

TABLE 15 Assignation of colour classes

Matrix colour of upper subsoil Gley mottles Red and yellow mottles Colour class

Dark red, red, yellowish red None Not>2% F1

Dark red, red, yellowish red 1% <5% F2
Dark red, red, yellowish red <2% 3-4% F2
5 YR 6/8, 5 YR 7/8 <2% <5% F2
Value 6 or more, chroma 5 or 6 <2% <5% F2
Value 6 or more, chroma 5 or 6 2-5% Not > 20% F5
Value 6 or more, chroma 5 or 6 Not>5% 5-20% F5
Value 6 or more, chroma 5 or 6 >5% Not diagnostic F6
Value 6 or more, chroma 5 or 6 Not diagnostic >20% F6
Value 6 or more, chroma 3 or 4 <2% <5% F5
Value 6 or more, chroma 3 or 4 2% of more Not diagnostic F6
Value 6 or more, chroma 3 or 4 Not diagnostic 5% or more F6
Value < 6 and/or chroma > 6 2-5% Not > 20% F4
Value < 6 and/or chroma > 6 Not>5% 5-20% F4
Value < 6 and/or chroma > 6 5-20% Not diagnostic F5
Value < . 6 and/or chroma > 6 Not > 20% >20% F5
Not diagnostic >20% Not diagnostic F6
Value < 6 and/or chroma > 6 <2% <5% F3
but excluding colours dark red, red, yellowish
red, reddish yellow 5 YR 6/8 and reddish
yellow 5 YR 7/8

The sequence F1 to F6 should not be taken as a sequence of drainage status although

obviously there is an element of this, in that soils in the class F1 are obviously freely
drained while those in F6 show distinct evidence of the influence of wet conditions
either current or in the past. The diagnostic criteria of the classes have essentially been
selected because they tend to group together soils of similar landscape situation. In as
much as colour is indicative of genesis, particularly the relative influences of oxidising
and reducing conditions, the colour groupings obviously do indicate moisture regime
but these need not necessarily be the current moisture regime.

Hydromorphic soils

Soils are classified as hydromorphic if within 125 cm (50 in) of the surface the matrix
has a gley colour over more than 10 cm (4 in) or if within 50 cm (20 in) of the surface
and over more than 10 cm (4 in) there are either more than 10% gley mottles or there
are rusty mottles associated with the root channels. To qualify as a hydromorphic soil,
the diagnostic criteria of hydromorphism must be continuous to depth; an horizon
classed as hydromorphic but underlain by a non-hydromorphic horizon would not
qualify the soil as hydromorphic.
A gley colour or gley mottle is defined on the basis of its Munsell colour notation as
fulfilling one of the following conditions:

1. Of hue 7.5 YR or redder with value 6 or more and chroma 2 or less, or with
value 3 or more and chroma 1

2. Of hue 10 YR or 2.5Y, with value 5 or more and chroma 2 or less, or with

value 3 or more and chroma 1

3. Of hue 5Y with value 3 or more and chroma 2 or less

4. Occurrin n on the Munsel! gle^-colour nage

All colours are taken in the moist condition.

Within the hydromorphic soils, three subdivisions are recognised on the basis of soil

H1 Soils with a gley colour matrix over more than 10 cm (4 in) within 50 cm (20 in)
of the surface and continuous with depth

H2 Soils in which the matrix is not of gley colour over 10 cm (4 in) within 50 cm
(20 in) of the surface but in which the matrix is of qley colour for more than 10
cm (4 in) within 125 cm (50 in) of the surface and continuous with depth

H3 Soils in which the matrix is not of gley colour over more than 10 cm (4 in) within
125 cm (50 in) of the surface but qualify as hydromorphic soils on the basis of
the presence of gley or rusty root mottles

Other characteristics

The classification of the freely-drained soils is based entirely on three parameters-depth,

texture and colour. For the hydromorphic soils, however, conductivity, soil reaction
and base saturation have also been used as parameters in the local classification.


The conductivity of a 1:5 extract measured during the dry season has been used to
define/three salinity classes within the hydromorphic soils. The limits used are based
essentially on a fairly well defined pattern of conductivity distribution. In those soils
which lie within the range of saline water intrusion, the conductivity of the 1:5 extract
is greater than 1.0 mmhos/cm in part or all of the profile. For virtually all other soils
the conductivity is less than 0.5 mmhos/cm throughout the profile. Very rarely are
values encountered between these two levels, although a grouping of EC (1:5) of
0.5 - 1.0 mmhos/cm has been allowed for. The 1.0 mmhos/cm level also separates those
soils with soluble sodium from those without. The approximate conversion EC (sat.
ext.) = 6.4 x EC (1:5 ext.) (Loveday eta/., 1972) has been used, as previously explained.

On this basis, converting from the value of Richards (1954) a value of EC (1:5)> 1.0
mmhos/cm would represent a salt content above which only few crops would give a
satisfactory yield.

The conductivity classes recognised for the hydromorphic soils of The Gambia are:

1. Saline: EC (1:5) exceeds 1.0 mmhos/cm within 125 cm (50 in) of the surface

2. Slightly saline: EC (1:5) reaches a maximum value of 0.5-1.0 mmhos/cm

within 125 cm (50 in) of the surface

3. Non saline: EC (1:5) does not exceed 0.5 mmhos/cm within 125 cm (50 in)
of the surface

Soil reaction and base saturation

This classification is based on dry season values. With soil reaction and base saturation
it has not been possible to define classes which can be used throughout the classification.
Instead, different pH and base saturation ranges have been used in different parts of
the classification so as to achieve as great a uniformity of characteristics and landscape
situation as possible. The proposed categories are:

1. For saline or slightly saline soils:

r. Very strongly or extremely acid: pH < 5.1 to below 50 cm (20 in) from
the surface but may be slightly less acid at the surface

ii. Neutral to strongly acid: pH 5.1 - 7.3 to beyond 50 cm (20 in) from the

2. For non-saline soils with a fine texture:

i. Medium or more acid: pH < 6.0, to bevond 50 cm (20 in) from the ->
surface and base saturation low (< 60%) in most horizons

ii. Medium acid to neutral: pH 5.1 - 7.3, to beyond 50 cm (20 in) and
base saturation high (> 60%) in most horizons

iii. Alkaline: (pH > 7.3) in one or more horizons within 125 cm (50 in) of
the surface and very high base saturation (> 75%) in most horizons

3. For non-saline soils in textural categories other than fine.

i. Very strongly or extremely acid (pH < 5.1) to beyond 50 cm (20 in)
from the surface

ii. Strongly acid to neutral (pH 5.1 - 7.3) to beyond 50 cm (20 in) from
the surface

iii. Alkaline (pH > 7.3) in one or more horizons within 125 cm (50 in)
of the surface and very high base saturation (> 75%) in most horizons


Using the characteristics discussed in the previous section it should be possible to assign
to a class most of the soils which are likely to be encountered in The Gambia. The
relationships between this classification and the systems of ORSTOM, USDA and FAO
are shown in Appendix I. Before presenting the keys a few important points should be

1. The keys should not be used in isolation; they should be used in conjunction
with the soil association map and with reference to the composite soil
descriptions or individual profile descriptions

2. Not every soil series which would be theoretically possible on the basis of
the combinations of characteristics used has been listed; only those series
identified during the survey are given but it is quite possible that further
investigation would reveal the existence of other series

3. In the higher-lying levees (Soil Association 23) in the eastern part of the
country there is a very wide variety of soils. It is not possible either to
identify series within these at the scale of survey used or to key these soils
out on the basis of their characteristics. It will be seen below that these areas
are.separated by virtue of their landscape situation. A similar approach is

taken with soils along the edge of the coast. In this context it should also be
noted that occasionally, within the freely drained soils, morphologically
identical series have been separated on the basis of landscape position

4. A few soils have been examined during the survey which, while fitting the
diagnostic criteria of some series, are not in fact within the normal concept
of that series. This occurs particularly at the junction of the colluvium and
alluvium. This emphasises the importance of using the keys below against
the background of a general understanding of the characteristics and
distribution of the soils


•Soils of Association 23 or 24 Key 1

-Soils < 125 cm deep or reaching plinthite within 125 cm Key 2

HDther soils
-Hydromorphic soils Key 3
•-Soils > 125 cm deep and not reaching
plinthite within 125 cm
-Freely drained soils Key 4
Key 1
Soil occurs in Association 23 Soils of Association 23
<-Red and yellow sands 101 Sanyang Series
Soil occurs in
Association 24
•-Pale coloured sands 102 Solifor Series
Key 2
Soil includes plinthite within 125 cm 200 Sabi Series
< 25 cm deep 201 Scarp Series
Finer than sandy clay loam 202 Bulgurk Series

Not finer than sandy clay loam 203 Kalem Poll Series
F1, F2 or F3 204 N'Geyen Sanjal Series
-Finer than sandy
F4, F5 or F6 205 Faba Series
clay loam
75-124 cm deep H 1 , H2 or H3 206 Sine Series
'"Not finer than F1, F2 or F3 207 Kerewan Series
sandy clay

Key 3
r—Soils supporting mangrove vegetation 300 Mangrove soils
EC (1:5) t > pH < 5.1 to > 50 cm, fine texture 301 Mandori Series
1 OOOMmhos "-phi 5.1-7.3 to > 50 cm, fine texture 302 Salikene Series

pH < 5.1 to > 50 cm, irregular

EC (1:5) 500- [ texture

pH 5.1-7.3 t o > 50 cm, fine texture
304 Bao Series
305 Carrols Wharf Series
1 000 n mhos

Note: not all possible combinations of soil variables have been observed in this survey
and other series could exist.

t EC (1:5) = electrical conductivity in a 1:5 soil to water extract.

r pH < 6.0 t o > 50 cm, BS *<<
60% 306 Jonkoto Series
•J-H1 307 Kudang Series
, - F i n e texture | - pH 5.1-7.3 t o > 50
cm, BS > 60% .. -H2 308 Bambo Tumang
- H 3 . . . . 309 Jam me Koto
r-H1 .... 31 OJakhaly Series
L-pH > 7.3 within 125
cm, BS > 75%
- H 2 . . . . 311 Walli Kunda
EC ( 1 : 5 X 5 0 0 • p H < 5.1 t o > 50 cm 312 Prüfu Series
Aimhos |— Fine over
medium or
L-pH 5.1-7.3 to >
50 cm 313 Banatenda Series
[-Medium texture pH > 7.3 within 125 cm, BS
> 75% 314 Katchang Series
f-Coarse texture 315 Fula Bantang
•—Coarse over medium or fine texture '.._ 316^hoyeni Serjes_

Key 4
Colour class Upper subsoil texture Depth to horizon Soil series
with > 30% silt
plus clay

> 25 cm — 401 Misera Series
• Sandy clay or clay-
"<: 25 cm — 402 Jessadi Series
I— > 25 cm — 403 Charmen Series
Sandy clay loam or clay loam-j
•^ 25 cm — 404 Bati Hai Series
> 25 cm — 405 Bafuloto Series
Sandy loam
L <C 25 cm — 406 Darusalameh
Loamy sand 407 Fass Series
i— > 25 cm — 408 Jal i Series
r-Sandy clay or clay-
F2 - ^ 25 cm — 409 Niji Series
Sandy clay loam or clay loam — > 25 cm — 410 Timpa Series
r— > 25 c m — 412 Lohen Series
|- Sandy clay or clay •
F3 <: 25 cm — 413 Fitu Series
Sandy clay loam or clay loam- • > 25 cm — 414 Sutoma Series
'-Sandy loam > 25 cm — 415 Berending

BS = base saturation as percentage

Colour class Upper subsoil texture Depth to horizon Soil series
with > 30% silt
plus clay
" > 25 c m — 416 Dandugu Series
F4 r Sandy clay or clay-
L <: 25 cm — 417 Bowe Series
Sandy clay loam or clay loam- — > 25 c m — 418 Badari Series
F5 Sandy clay or clay — <; 25 cm — 419 Jar Kunda Series
Sandy clay loam or clay loam- — > 25 cm — 420 Kurau Bakarj
r <: 25 cm — 423*Nyamanari Series
Sandy clay or clay
^ 25 cm — 424 t Nyambai Series
- > 25 cm — 425 Kulari Series
- Sandy clay loam or clay loam - <: 25 cm — 426*N'Joren Series
_ <: 25 cm — 427 t Koina Series
* Where the soil is situated in an essentially plateau situation. Association 8, 10, 11 or 12

t Where the soil is situated on a colluvial slope or lower interfluve slope, Association
5 or 6


Very brief descriptions of each series,are given below; these are little more than slight
amplifications of the key. For a full characterisation of the series, descriptions and
data are retained in the LRD Archives. The distribution of the series within associations
is described in Part 10.

Sanyang Series 101 These soils occur on coastal pre-Nouakchottian sand dunes and
show little profile development. They are sandy and virtually structureless though there
is generally a humic stained topsoil. They have a red colour which was developed during
the Nouakchottian period and in some cases overlie older soils.

Solif or Series 102 Pale coloured sandy soils, occurring on recent sand dunes along the
coast. The only profile development is a slight humic staining in the surface horizon.

Sabi Series 200 Continental Terminal and colluvio-alluvial soils which include a
plinthite layer within 125 cm (50 in) of the surface. Other profile features are varied but
these soils are of such infrequent occurrence that they have not been subdivided.

Scarp Series 201 Very shallow Continental Terminal soils which have not been further
subdivided since their shallowness is such a dominating characteristic. Texture varies
from loamy sand to sandy clay loam and silt loam.

Bulgurk Series 202 Moderately shallow Continental Terminal soils with texture finer
than sandy clay loam which have not been subdivided on the basis of colour. The soils
are all very fine textured below the surface horizon, the < 100/x fraction usually
exceeding 75%, though this reduces in horizons with concretionary material. The
surface horizons are usually sandy loams or loams with a high silt content. Base
saturation (BS) is usually low, < 30% below the surface.

Kalem Poll Series 203 Moderately shallow Continental Terminal soils with a subsurface
texture not finer than sandy clay loam which have not been subdivided on the basis
of colour. They usually lack the high content of silt and very fine sand of the Bulgurk
Series, subsurface horizons having commonly less than 60% of < 100M material;
surface horizons are usually coarse textured (< 30% silt plus clay).

N'Geyen San/a/ Series 204 Slightly shallow Continental Terminal soils with profiles
including at least one horizon finer than sandy clay loam, and colour class F 1 , F2 or

Faba Series 205 Slightly shallow Continental Terminal soils with profiles including at
least one horizon finer than sandy clay loam, and colour class F4, F5 or F6. Most of
the soils are very fine with a < 100/i fraction of over 75%; BS below the surface is
usually low (< 60%).

Sine Series 206 Slightly shallow soils with profiles which would be classified as
hydromorphic and which include some horizons finer than sandy clay loam. Of the
two profiles described in this series, one appears to be developed in alluvium, the other
on the lower colluvial slope.

Kerewan Series 207 Slightly shallow Continental Terminal soils with profiles nowhere
finer than sandy clay loam and of colour class F 1 , F2 or F3. These soils usually have
not more than 60% of material in the < 100M fraction, and base saturation is commonly

Mangrove soils 300 Because of the considerable difficulties involved in studying mangrove
soils and their very limited development potential, no attempt was made to survey these
soils. However, the mangrove soils in the region of Keneba have been subject to an
intensive study reported by Giglioli and Thornton (1965), Thornton and Giglioli (1965)
and Giglioli and King (1966). While there is considerable variation recorded within the
mangrove soils they all show certain common characteristics. They are all fine textured,
clay, silt, clay loam or silt loam with rarely some sandier horizons appearing near the
surface. They are all essentially grey or dark grey with very little mottling. They are
all subject to regular inundation by saline water and the distribution of salts within the
different mangrove soils is described in detail by Giglioli and King (1966). Whilst in the
wet soils of the younger soils supporting Rhizophora the pH was over 6, in nearly all
the mangrove soils the pH on drying was extremely low, usually less than 4.

MandoriSeries 301 These are saline and acid alluvial soils; EC (1:5) exceeds 1.0 mmhos
within the normal profile and pH is < 5.1 throughout the profile with the possible
exception of a less acid surface horizon. The texture is fine throughout; silt plus clay
always exceeds 80% with the clay fraction usually predominant except for some more
silty surface horizons. BS is high throughout and magnesium is usually the predominant
cation, the sequence being Mg > Na > Ca > K , though the exchangeable sodium
precentage (ESP) still normally exceeds 20.

Salikene Series 302 Saline alluvial soils which are strongly acid to neutral to within > 50
cm (20 in) of the surface and are fine textured throughout. Only two profiles were
described in this series, both had more than 90% silt plus clay, high BS, over 90%
throughout, a predominance of magnesium in the exchange complex, but with ESP
over 20. Both profiles had a water table within 2 m (6 ft) of the surface at the end of
the dry season.

Bao Series 304 A slightly saline alluvial soil of very strongly or extremely acid reaction
with an irregular textural profile. Only two profiles described.

Carrots Wharf Series 305 A slightly saline alluvial soil which is strongly acid to neutral
to within > 50 cm (20 in) of the surface and has a fine texture. Only one profile

Jonkoto Series 306 Non-saline alluvial soils with medium to very strongly acid reaction
to within > 50cm of the surface and a fine texture to at least 125 cm (50 in); base
saturation does not exceed 50% for most of the profile. Most of the profiles described
in this series have a clay texture throughout though some have a more silty surface
horizon and some are coarse textured at depth. Characteristically the series has a
strongly developed blocky structure. The CEC of the clay does not normally exceed
20 meq/100 g clay and calcium is the predominant cation in the exchange complex. In
some areas these soils appear to have high water tables, and although no profile pits
were described in these areas it is proposed that in addition to its modal form, this
soil may be considered to have two other phases: (a) Wetter phase - subsoil is recorded
as very moist or wet during the dry season (b) High ground water table - the ground
water table was reached within 50 cm (20 in) of the surface during the dry season.

Kudang Series 307 Non-saline alluvial soils, neutral to strongly acid to within > 50 cm
(20 in) of the surface and with BS > 60% for most of the profile. Soils are fine textured
to within 125 cm (50 in) of the surface and are of colour class H1. The profiles described
within this series include soils predominantly clay textured and others with a
predominantly silty clay loam or clay loam texture. Most of the soils have strongly
developed prismatic structure. CEC of the clay is usually within 20 - 30 meq/100 g
clay; calcium is the predominant cation in the exchange complex though magnesium
may be at a similar level to calcium in some of the deeper horizons. As with the previous
series, some areas of this soil are designated as belonging to a wetter phase, that is the
subsoil remains wet or very moist through most of the year.

Bambo Tumang Series 308 Non-saline alluvial soils which are neutral to strongly acid to
within > 50 cm (20 in) of the surface and in which base saturation is > 60% for most
of the profile. These soils are fine textured and of colour class H2. Most of the profiles
in the series include silty clay or silty clay loam horizons in the lower profile and have
silt loam or coarser surface horizons. Structural development is not usually greater than
moderate. CEC of the clay is usually in the range 20 - 25 meq/100 g clay. Calcium is
the predominant cation in the exchange complex, though in the deeper horizons
magnesium may be at a similar level.

Jarume Koto Series 309 Non-saline alluvial soils which are neutral to strongly acid to
within > 50 cm (20 in) of the surface and have a BS of > 60% through most of the
soil. The series is fine textured and of colour class H3. Only one profile described; it
had an extremely silty profile throughout - silt over silty clay loam and silt loam - and
mostly only a weakly or moderately developed structure.

Jakhaly Series 310 Non-saline alluvial soils which include within 125 cm (50 in) of the
surface one or more alkaline horizons and in which base saturation is > 75% in most
of the profile. Texture is fine throughout and colour class is H 1 . Most of the profiles
described in the series are clay throughout or clay over silty clay. Structure is usually
strong or moderate blocky. CEC of the clay is usually 20 - 30 meq/100 g clay and
calcium is usually predominant in the exchange complex.

Walli Kunda Series 311 Non-saline alluvial soils which include within 125 cm (50 in)
of the surface one or more alkaline horizons, and have a BS of > 75% through most
of the profile. Texture is fine throughout, and colour class is H2. Most of the soils
have silty loam surface horizons over clay profiles which grade to silty clays or silty
clay loams at depth. Structure is usually moderate or strong blocky. CEC of the clay
is usually 25 - 35 meq/100 g clay and calcium is the predominant cation on the exchange

Prufu Series 312 Non-saline alluvial and colluvio-alluvial soils which are very strongly
or extremely acid to within > 50 cm (20 in) of the surface, and in which fine textured
upper horizons overlie coarse textured lower horizons. Only two profiles were described
in this series. Both were clay textured to about 80 cm (30 in), and in the most coarse
textured horizons were sand or loamy sand, and both were strongly structured in the
fine textured portion of the profile and weakly structured or structureless below. CEC
varied with clay content and in one profile base saturation never exceeded 9% while in
the other it was about 40% in the fine textured layer rising to 67% below this.

Banatenda Series 313 Non-saline alluvial and colluvio-alluvial soils of strongly acid to
neutral reaction to within > 125 cm (50 in) of the surface and with a textural sequence
of fine over medium or coarse. The soils described in this series all have silty clay loam,
silt loam or clay surface horizons, in all soils there is an initial increase in clay with
depth with a change to medium or coarse texture usually occurring below about 80 cm
(30 in).

Katchang Series 314 Non-saline colluvio-alluvial soils which include within 125 cm
(50 in) of the surface one or more alkaline horizons, have a BS of > 75% for most of
the profile, and are medium textured throughout. Only one profile described.

Fula Bantang Series 315 Non-saline colluvio-alluvial soils which are coarse textured to
at least 125 cm (50 in).CEC and exchangeable bases (EB) are very low and the soils
described in the series are mainly strongly or medium acid.

Choyen Series 316 Non-saline colluvio-alluvial soils in which clay content tends to
increase with depth; loamy sand or sandy loam surface horizons overlie sandy clay
loam to clay subsoils. CEC and EB are very low, BS varies but the soils are all acid,
usually medium or strongly acid but may be very strongly acid.

Misera Series 401 Continental Terminal soils of colour class F1 with deep (> 25 cm,
> 10 in) coarse textured surfaces and sandy clay or clay upper subsoils.

Jessadi Series 402 Continental Terminal soils, F1 with shallow (<: 25 cm, 10 in) coarse
textured surfaces and sandy clay or clay upper subsoils.

Charmen Series 403 Continental Terminal soils, F1 with deep (> 25 cm, 10 in) coarse
textured surfaces and sandy clay loam or clay loam upper subsoils.

Bati Hai Series 404 Continental Terminal soils, F1 with shallow (< 25 cm, 10 in) coarse
textured surfaces and sandy clay loam or clay loam upper subsoils.

Bafuloto Series 405 Continental Terminal soils, F1 with deep (> 25 cm, 10 in) coarse
textured surfaces and sandy loam upper subsoils.

Darusalameh Series 406 Continental Terminal soils, F1 with shallow (^ 25 cm, 10 in)
coarse textured surfaces and sandy loam upper subsoils.

Fass Series 407 Continental Terminal soils, F 1 , not finer than loamy sand throughout.

Ja/i Series 408 Continental Terminal soils, F2 with deep (> 25 cm, 10 in) coarse
textured surfaces and sandy clay or clay upper subsoils.

Ni/i Series 409 Continental Terminal soils, F2 with shallow (<C 25 cm, 10 in) coarse
textured surfaces and sandy clay or clay upper subsoils.

Timpa Series 410 Continental Terminal soils, F2 with deep (> 25 cm, 10 in) coarse
textured surfaces and sandy clay loam or clay loam upper subsoils.

Lohen Series 412 Continental Terminal soils, F3 with deep (> 25 cm, 10 in) coarse
textured surfaces and sandy clay or clay upper subsoils.

Fitu Series 413 Continental Terminal soils, F3 with shallow (<: 25 cm, 10 in) coarse
textured surfaces and sandy clay or clay upper subsoils.

Sutoma Series 414 Continental Terminal soils, F3 with deep (> 25 cm, 10 in) coarse
textured surfaces and sandy clay loam or clay loam upper subsoils.

Berending Series 415 Continental Terminal soils, F3 with deep (> 25 cm, 10 in) coarse
textured surfaces and sandy loam upper subsoils.

Dandugu Series 416 Continental Terminal soils, F4 with deep (> 25 cm, 10 in) coarse
textured surfaces and sandy clay or clay upper subsoils.

Bowe Series 417 Continental Terminal soils, F4 with shallow (<: 25 cm, 10 in) coarse
textured surfaces and sandy clay or clay upper subsoils.

Badari Series 418 Continental Terminal soils, F4 with deep (> 25 cm, 10 in) coarse
textured surfaces and sandy clay loam or clay loam upper subsoils.

Jar Kunda Series 419 Continental Terminal soils, F5 with shallow (<: 25 cm, 10 in)
coarse textured surfaces and sandy clay or clay upper subsoils.

Kurau Bakari Series 420 Continental Terminal soils, F5 with deep (> 25 cm, 10 in)
coarse textured surfaces and sandy clay loam or clay loam upper subsoils.

Nyamanari Series 423 Continental Terminal soils, F6 with shallow ( ^ 25 cm, 10 in)
coarse textured surfaces and sandy clay or clay upper subsoils. Confined to the essentially
plateau soils of Associations 8, 10, 11 or 12.

Nyambai Series 424 Continental Terminal soils, F6 with shallow (< 25 cm, 10 in) coarse
textured surfaces and sandy clay or clay upper subsoils. Confined to the colluvial slope
or lower interfluve slope soils of Associations 5 or 6.

Kulari Series 425 Continental Terminal soils, F6 with deep (> 25 cm, 10 in) coarse
textured surfaces and sandy clay loam or clay loam upper subsoils.

N'Joren Series 426 Continental Terminal soils, F6 with shallow (^ '25 cm, 10 in) coarse
textured surfaces and sandy clay loam or clay loam upper subsoils. Confined to the
essentially plateau soils of Associations 8, 10, 11 or 12.

Koina Series 427 Continental Terminal soils, F6 with shallow (^ 25 cm, 10 in) coarse
textured surfaces and sandy clay loam or clay loam upper subsoils. Confined to the
coiiuviai siope or iower interfiuve siope sous of Associations 5 or 6.

Soil Association 23 Complex, weakly developed alluvial soils of variable texture and

Unclassified soils Soils which have not been classified due either to the presence of
artifacts within the profile or characteristics not in accordance with the concepts of the
local soil classification system.

Part 9
Soil w a t e r


With such a short season of reliable rain (see Part 4, Climate), knowledge of soil-water
availability was thought to be of major importance in agricultural production in The
Gambia and in particular, for the introduction of cotton with a longer growing season
than the local cultivars of groundnut and sorghum. This required the identification
within the LRD project, of the areas of greatest soil-water reserves to be exploited by
the cotton crop after the rains had ceased. Thus a programme of soil-water measure-
ment was initiated to determine the aspects of soil-water important to Gambian
agricultural practices.

For this study, changes in soil-water content were monitored at more than 100 care-
fully selected sites (Text Map 2 in Part 4) of typical soils used for rainfed crops using
a neutron back-scattering technique. This method is useful for frequent measure-
ments to quantify the dynamics of soil-water in the field. These were made from
September 1972 to February 1974. This allowed the investigation of the drying
process in 1972, and the complete wetting and drying in 1973. After the observations
in 1972, it became obvious that root penetration and plant water-use were less than
expected. Infiltration of rainwater was observed to be very poor so that much rain-
water is expected to be lost by surface runoff. Further work in the 1973 season
measured and explained the poor infiltration at many sites and investigation of the
soil bulk density, resistance to root penetration as measured by a penetrometer, and
depth of rooting, all indicated the serious constraints to continuous cultivation of
the very dense soils.

The soil survey in general showed that the water regime in the alluvial soils is
extremely complicated and important. However, this study was confined to the
investigation of rainfed crops (by far the largest source of production at present),
which are not grown to any great extent on alluvial soils.


The soils studied did not show a meaningful field capacity. Drainage is variable, and
generally slow so that some soils were still draining after 8 months with no rain.
Figure 25 shows some water-content profiles at access Tube 15 within Giroba Kunda
Mixed Farming Centre. The soil was selected as typical of a 'lower colluvial slope'
soil and pertinent features are: (a) the clay bulge at 50-80 cm (20-31 in) which may
restrict infiltration if it occurs near the surface; (b) the rise and fall of the water
table during the wet season; and (c) the similarity of the dry profiles of December
1972, May 1973 and January 1974. From the changes in water content observed in
an infiltration experiment, saturated soil holds about 270 mm of water in the top
metre of soil (3.2 ft). The day after saturation with natural drainage approximating
to field capacity, the top metre contained 227-237 mm (2.8 in/ft) of water, and when

dry, approximating to wilting point, about 107 mm (1.3 in/ft). Thus more than
30 mm/m (0.4 in/ft) drains within 24 hours (as it might after a very heavy storm),
leaving 120-130 mm in the top metre (1.5 in/ft) as available water for the plants (of
which another 60 mm/m (0.7 in/ft) might drain within 20 days as happened after the
infiltration experiment, when the soil surface was covered with polythene sheet).

Table 16 shows the variation in observed available water during the wet season over a
distance of 100 m (330 ft) at this site, where 15 profiles were studied.

TABLE 16 Observed variation of available water in the top metre of soil over a distance of 100 m (330 ft)
at the lower coluvial slope site at Giroba Kunda, mm/m.

Minimum water Maximum water Available
content content water

1 80 215 135
2 103 215 112
3 71 206 135
4 108 230 122
5 93 202 109
6 107 225 118
8 96 219 123
10 82 197 115
12 78 196 118
13 98 223 125
14 114 244 130
15 107 227 120

Mean 95 217 122

14 14 8

Water content profiles of similar soil moisture status in an upper colluvial slope soil
are shown in Figure 26. These soils show drainage to a watertable below 6 m (20 ft).
Seasonal wetting and drying profiles for the 1973 wet season are shown in Figure 27
for a lower plateau soil, and Figure 28 for an upper plateau soil. A t neither site did
the ironpan (cuirasse) layer, a common feature of plateau soils, inhibit drainage.

Analysis of the data was complicated by the extreme variability in soil characteristics
between sites within the same field, on many of the soils studied. Thus intercrop
differences in crop water use were somewhat masked, especially for the annual crops
(groundnut, sorghum and cotton), with their limited root penetration. Gmelina and
the natural vegetation in Kabafeta Forest Park exploited soil water to a depth of
more than 3.5 m (11 ft).

Estimates of mean available water contents of the different soils (Table 17) derived
from the changes in water content observed, are not very different. Differences
shown, apart from the contrast between colluvial and plateau soils, are not significant
due to high variability and low level of sampling. Non-uniform infiltration on the
plateau soils reduced the observed available water considerably and faster drainage
from the colluvial soils quickly reduced their apparently extra available water — before
the crops can exploit it. Thus accessibility (see below) and infiltration will be more
important for crop productivity than availability in these soils. Working in Senegal,
Hanrion et al. (1971) and Cochemé and Franquin (1967) used values of 100 mm
(4 in) as the water available to annual crops in the ferruginous tropical soils, corres-
ponding to full exploitation of about 1 m (3 ft) of soil.

Water content (% by volume)

State of top Total water in Available water

Symbol Date metre of soil top metre (mm) (mm)

11/12/72 111 4
Dry: approximately
8/5/73 107 0
at wilting point
2/12/73 112' 5

24/8/73 227 120

Wet: approximately 228 121
at field capacity 237 130

T • 3/12/73 Wet: near saturation 270 163

FIGURE 25 Some observed soil-water content profiles at Tube 15, Giroba Künda, lower colluvial slope site
Water content (% by volume)


State of top Total water in Available water

Symbol Date metre of soil top metre (mm) (mm)

• 12/12/72 98 6
Dry: approximately
• 8/5/73 92 0
at wilting point
X 29/12/73 94 2
A 24/8/73 197 105
• Wet: approximately 184
30/12/73 92
at field capacity 196 104
O 1/1/74

T 31/12/73 Wet: near saturation 240 148

FIGURE 26 Some observed soil-water content profiles at Tube 2 6 , Giroba Kunda, upper colluvial slope site m
Water content (% by volume) FIGURE 27

32 32 5

0 80 -

E 1 20

§" 1 «0 -

W 160

• 8/5/73
o 26/8/73
s 17/9/73
2 00 -
A 16/10/73
• 15/11/73
X 11/1/74


FIGURE 27 Seasonal wetting (a) and drying (b) under sorghum crop in a lower plateau soil at Sabi (Badjara)
Soil-water content (% by volume)
. 5 15 20
—* n ••.?.. I
1 ( l

\ l Ir

0.20 -
— •

^ 0.40
Q. /
• 0.6
'6 20.6.73 ,-- /
X /
\ f /


0.00 -1—

20.6 73
(b) 14.9.73
25.9 73
® 0.60 13.1073
6 3.11.73
co 6.12.73
8.5.73 +

FIGURE 28 Some seasonal wetting (a) and drying (b) profiles in upper plateau soil near Sabi in 1 9 7 3 . The crop was cotton. Excess water from the profile C
easily passes through the ironpan layer observed at 1 metre depth
TABLE 17 Variation in observed soil water availability with crop and landscape position

Mean observed
Landscape available water Mapping
Site 1973 crop
position in top metre Association
of soil (mm)

Giroba Kunda Lower colluvium Groundnut 125 6

Bare & fallow 120

Upper colluvium Groundnut/sorghum 100 6

Sorghum 110

Groundnut 105

Mankamang Lower colluvium Groundnut 100 6

Upper colluvium Sorghum & millet 110

Sabi (Badjara) Lower plateau Cotton 90

' Sorghum 95 12

Groundnut 90

Sabi (experiment) Valley head Sorghum 125 12

Sabi iYeii) Upper plateau Cotton 85 11

Sorghum 100

Giroba (plateau) Upper plateau Sorghum 100 8

Mankamang (plateau) Upper plateau Bush & fallow 80 8

Nyambai Broad depression Gmelina 140 5

Bush 145

Groundnut 110


The available water of the soils in The Gambia does not change appreciably with
depth. Thus a plant that can exploit soil water to 2 m (6 ft) will have twice as much
accessible water at the end of the rains as a plant that can only exploit 1 m (3 ft) of
soil. The difference of approximately 100 mm (4 in) of water might extend the
growing season by up to a month (with evaporation rates of 3-4 mm/day) though at
many sites drainage loss will markedly reduce the difference.

Estimates of accessibility and root penetration of soils are based on measurements of

bulk density and penetrometer resistance. These were taken in some detail at the
soil-water study sites with a wider spread throughout the country at the soil-survey
pit sites. The results, while not conforming to an obvious pattern in their variability,
show that soil bulk density and resistance to root penetration are generally high.
From work done by Taylor and Bruce (1968) and Memsath and Mazurak (1974) the
incompressibility of the majority of soils sampled in The Gambia would be expected
to restrict root growth severely. The evidence of prolific growth of roots in cracks in
the soil, and the growth of cotton, sorghum and groundnut roots to over 3 m
(10 ft) depth beside imperfectly fitted access tubes, are some indication of the
restriction imposed on the roots by the dense soil. Within the soil matrix very few
roots of annual crops were observed below 50-75 cm (20-30 in).


It is important to realise the extent of variation possible in infiltration in the field.

When rainfall intensity is higher than the lowest spot infiltration rate, surface redis-
tribution of water occurs and then large channels and fissures have a dominant effect
on the pattern of soil wetting. If rainfall exceeds the infiltration rate, water will flow
along large channels to form puddles in depressions and much of the soil surface will
absorb less than average rainfall. As a consequence it is necessary for infiltration
experiments to take into account channel and fissure flaws where they occur. The
infiltrometer should be as large as practicable, if possible covering the area which
corresponds to the soil volume occupied by the roots of a single crop plant. Manage-
ment of the soil should be designed to maintain as uniform penetration of rainwater
into the soil as possible.

A triple ring infiltrometer of 56 cm (22 in) innermost diameter incorporating a

neutron probe access tube in the centre was used t o measure the rate of infiltration
of 12.5 mm (0.5 in) unit quantities of water to simulate a typical rainstorm.
Infiltration rates of various soils were measured during the wet and dry seasons, under
different vegetative covers, and after surface cultivation. Neutron probe measure-
ments enabled a correction to be made to the infiltration rates for lateral subsurface
movement of water, so that a closer approximation to the infiltration rate during
heavy rainfall might be obtained. Infiltration studies undertaken at the seasonally
observed sites provided further detail on the natural wetting and drying processes.

The results indicate that vegetation usually has a larger influence on infiltration of
water than soil type but that a soil type/cultivation interaction can be important. This
is in full agreement with the work of Camus and Berthault (1972) working with more
or less similar soils in Ivory Coast and Mansfield etal. (1975) in Zambia.

Infiltration rates were obtained from detailed studies in the gmelina plantation at
Nyambai, in Kabafeta Forest Park w i t h natural tree and grass cover (bush), and in an
adjacent groundnut field that had been cleared two years previously. The time
required for 25 mm (1 in) of water t o enter the soil under gmelina was 20 minutes;
under bush, 30 minutes; and under groundnuts, 120 minutes. Differences in
infiltration rates may be related to the level of termite activity in the soil. Much
detritus collects beneath perennial woody crops and in their foraging for this food
the termites open up many channels into the soil. On soils used for annual crops
where all but the roots may be removed by the farmer, very little is left for the
termites to eat. It is presumed that the termite population and activity in the soil
declines rapidly after clearing and thus soils become more dense and more impervious
to water infiltration. Earth worms were looked for but not found.

Infiltration rates for 25 mm (1 in) of water entering wet soil varied from 20 to
50 min on a colluvial soil, and from 70 t o 120 min on a plateau soil. During the
experiments, rates of precipitation varied, but a rate of 1 mm/minute was commonly
experienced. Thus unless the rain is held on the soil surface by good management
techniques water will be lost by surface runoff. This is obviously more critical on
the plateau soils but should not be ignored on the colluvial soils.

The ridge and furrow cultivation practice seems unfavourable to good infiltration.
Firstly, unless they are exactly on the contour, furrows merely channel the water off
the fields. Secondly, as ridges on fine-textured surface soils break down, the soil
particles are sorted by flowing water into alternating layers of fine and coarse
material, which can form a more impermeable surface layer (Kowal, 1972). Most
farmers are aware of the problem of surface runoff, and they often deliberately
plough up and down the slope to lead away excess water from the field further up
the slope. Any solution to this problem must, because of the pattern of land tenure,
be undertaken with cooperation from all farmers in an area and be such that a good
farmer does not suffer for another's mistakes.

It is important that all the rainwater should infiltrate into the soil even though there
may be an apparent excess on occasion. Surface flow causes erosion of the better

surface soil with loss of fertiliser, damage to crops, reduction in groundwater for
wells and reduction of the water supply for crop growth. Drainage is generally good
and there seems to be little danger from anaerobic effects associated with water-
logging except in isolated spots, where the ironpan is impermeable. These isolated
spots are often used for small scale rice production in wet years.


At any given time, factors affecting the quantity of water stored in the soil are rain-
fall, evaporation, crops, soil type and management. Comparison of observed soil-water
changes with the expected values from rainfall measurement provided information on
surface runoff, evaporation and drainage. In the gmelina plantation at Nyambai where
infiltration was good and surface flow negligible, evapo-transpiration averaged about
5 mm (0.2 in)/day (Figure 29), and total drainage about 150 mm (5.9 in) from a
total rainfall of 909 mm (36 in). For comparison, estimates made at a sorghum field
on the lower plateau near Sabi are shown in Figure 30, where rainfall was 736 mm
(29 in) and evapo-transpiration averaged about 2 mm (0.8 in)/day. If surface runoff
is taken t o be 50%, the calculated values of available water follow closely the pattern
of observed values and very little water drains out of the profile. A t a groundnut
field (upper colluvial) near Giroba Kunda, surface runoff was smaller (20-25%) due to
the sandier soil surface; thus, of the 875 mm (34 in) of rainfall, perhaps 100-200 mm
(4.8 in) were lost by surface flow, 300-400 mm (12-16 in) evaporated during the
period at 2-3 mm (Ö.Ö8-Ö.12 in)/day, and about the same quantity drained through
the profile to the watertable.

Generally the much slower infiltration rates of plateau compared with colluvial soils
resulted in large surface runoff (about 50%) and less water stored in the soil (Table 18).
These plateau soils were much more variable than the colluvial soils and, on
average, drainage was rather slower and very much less than that through the
colluvial soils. A common feature of the plateau soils is the appearance of ironpan
within 1-2 m (3-6 ft) of the soil surface. In most cases this ironpan appeared to be
as permeable as or of greater permeability than the soil above it; figures 27 and 28
show no evidence of increased water content just above the ironpan. Only a few
isolated instances of water standing on the ironpan were observed.

TABLE 18 Runoff losses from storm of 1 June 1973, the beginning of the wet season

Observed increase Estimated

Rain Infiltration Runoff loss
Site Soil type in soil water evaporation
(mm) (mm)
(mm) (%)

Giroba Kunda Lower colluvial 91 44 7 51 44

Giroba Kunda Upper colluvial 91 53 7 60 34

Sabi Badjara Lower plateau 103 35 6 41 60

Sabi Yeli Upper plateau 59 22 6 28 53

The seasonal changes in observed water contents (Figures 29 and 30) are more clearly
explained by reference to Figure 3 1 . When the rains began in June and July, the soil
absorbed 100% of the rain (0% runoff) under the gmelina and about 5 mm (0.2 in) of
water per day evaporated. When the top metre (Figure 31) held 90 mm (1.1 in/ft) of
water, the second metre started wetting through drainage from day 80, (second half
of July). With more rain, the water held in the top metre increased, as did the rate of
drainage into the second metre, and when the second metre contained about 90 mm
of water from day 90 (early August), the third metre started wetting up. When the
third metre started draining from day 105 (mid-August) the observed soil-water
content curve (Figure 29) diverged from the calculated curve because of drainage
which was not allowed for in the calculations. The rapid decline in observed water
content about day 140 was also caused by drainage. As the soil dries the observed
evaporation rate declines due to the more restricted availability of the deeper water



FIGURE 29 Calculated and mean observed available water in profiles under gmelina trees at Nyambai, 1973. For the calculations, G)
surface runoff is assumed to be zero ^=

Calculated available soil water with:
^_ 1 0 0 % infiltration of rainwater
and Et 2mm/day
i 9 0 % infiltration
' and Et 2mm/day
70% infiltration
and Et 2mm/day
50% infiltration 100%, 2mm
and Et 2mm/day
50% jnfUtration

May Jun Jul . Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov Dec t Jan

1 — 1 — 1 1 H —l ' 1 h
0 20 40 60 100 120 140 160 180 200 220 240 260


FIGURE 3 0 Calculated and observed seasonal changes in soil water under

, sorghum at Sabi (Badjara)



FIGURE 31 Available water in each of the first three metres of soil during
the 1 9 7 3 wet season under mature gmelina trees in Nyambai

for the trees and the leaves brown and fall in December. The curve of observed water-
content changes under sorghum (Figure 30) is the mean of five measurements. In
the early season with no crop cover, actual evaporation was much lower than
potential (3.5 mm (0.14 in) per day) and surface runoff averaged about 50%. Later
in the season, crop evaporation was higher (about 3 mm (0.12 in) per day) and
runoff was probably only 40%. (Runoff occurred despite attempts to make the soil
surface level within 1 metre of the observation tubes). The calculated curves were
obtained from a simple model assuming constant evaporation and constant runoff
proportion of rainfall. This is obviously an approximation, but clearly indicates the
differences in infiltration between Nyambai and Sabi. The second metre of soil at
Sabi was often found to be dry throughout the wet season.


Experiments on the drying of wetted bare soil were undertaken in the dry season
one or two days following wetting. The rate of surface evaporation from plateau and
colluvial soils are reduced from the potential rate to about 1 mm/day, declining to
zero after about 10 days. Total evaporation loss is up to 15 mm (0.6 in) after each
storm. A similar pattern of surface drying was observed in the wet season.

The variable date of onset of the rains, often sudden, prohibits prior determination
of a planting date. It would seem to be reasonable practice to plough or cultivate
after the first storm of 10 mm (0.4 in) or more and sow after the following rainstorm.
Rainstorms of less than 4 mm (0.16 in)/day, unless occurring regularly, do not appear
to contribute to soil water storage. A t Yundum, in an average season, ploughing and
planting should occur in the second half of June. Data are not available for more
specific estimation elsewhere, but the rains and crops in Upper River Division are
often 2-4 weeks in advance of those in Western Division.


Density of crop stands in the fields was very variable but did not correlate directly
with available water. While denser crop covers will use more water they also provide
better conditions for infiltration and on many soils this will more than compensate
for greater uptake. Differences in root depth and water consumption by the annual
crops studied (sorghum, millet, groundnut and cotton) did not appear to be


In view of the severe problem caused by surface runoff, the effect of management
practices on the soil surface can be crucial to the welfare of the crop. Management of
soils in Nigeria under a similar rainfall/runoff situation to that in The Gambia has
been investigated (Kowal and Knabe, 1972; Kowal, 1968,1972a, b). Flat cultivation
between contour bunds is recommended where 'at Samaru, the practice of ridging
(between graded terraces, average slope 0.4%) substantially adds to soil erodibility
and loss of plant nutrients in runoff or eroded soil' (Kowal, 1967). Ridges, tied or
otherwise, tend to cause the surface particles to be sorted into less permeable surface
layers as the ridges erode (Kowal, 1972). This was observed on many plateau soils
with finer surface textures. Tied ridges are probably superior to untied ridges
(Lawes, 1962) except in really exceptional storms, when the damage due t o a
succession of collapsed ridges may be catastrophic (Kowal, 1967). Drainage of the
soils is usually rapid so the only danger of waterlogging could be from impermeable
layers caused by eroded and sorted ridges. For mechanical (ox or tractor) cultivation
of the soil, tied ridges are not as easy as flat cultivation though they have the distinct
advantage of producing even infiltration. Through increasing plant density and
fertiliser effectiveness and reducing drought stresses and surface runoff, active steps
t o increase rainwater infiltration into the soil in a more even manner may be expected
to increase crop productivity.

Part 10
Soil distribution

The evolution and distribution of the soils of The Gambia have been influenced
principally by parent material, past and present climate, topography and inundation by
saline water. Since the climate throughout the area is essentially uniform, the separation
of mapping units in the form of soil associations has been based on differences in topo-
graphy, parent material and salinity. The relationship between landform and soil
associations is shown in Figure 32. Parent material has determined the initial major
subdivision into the soils of the Continental Terminal and the soils of the alluvium and
the physiographic criteria employed in separating the soil associations within these sub-
divisions will subsequently be described.

The relationships between soil associations are discussed below, together with the
distribution of soil series within each soil association. Table 19 lists the soil series
identified within each association, excluding Western Division, series allocation having
been based on field descriptions of soil profiles within each association and subsequent
laboratory analyses of soil samples for each horizon described. Similarly, Table 20
lists the soil series identified within Western Division. Series allocation in this case has
been based almost entirely on field descriptions since very few laboratory analyses were
carried out on these soils. From the few particle size analyses available, it appears likely
that overestimation of the sand content occurred in the field textures recorded,which may
may account for the predominance of coarse - and medium - textured soils in this

Special reference is made, where appropriate, to the detailed studies of the sample
strips and the alluvial areas of MacCarthy Island Division.

The soils of the continental terminal

In describing the distribution of the soil associations and their relationships with
natural physiographic features, it is useful to consider the western area of the country,
with its landscape pattern of low, successive interfluves, separately from the slightly
higher-lying, partially dissected plateau further east (Figures 18 and 19 in Part 6).
Variations occur in this generalised landscape pattern reflecting a complex erosional
and depositional history during the Quaternary. The transition between the two forms
of relief occurs,to the south of the River Gambia,towards the east of Western Division,
and north of the river, at the course of the Bao Bolon.

(a) Western area


10 km

8 Soil association number

a j p o o o Ironpan
(b) Eastern area

FIGURE 32 Idealised sections showing the relationship between landform and soil mapping associations C
TABLE 19 Distribution of soil series within soil associations (excluding Western Division)

Soil Soil profiles

Series identified within association
association (WAG numbers)

1 153,159,378,379,380 Misera 401(2)

Jessadi 402
Charmen 403
Dandugu 416

2. 123,125,132,134,138, Charmen 403(5)

142,143,144,147,148, Sutoma 414(2)
156,157,160,162 Kalem Poll 203
Choyen 316
Bafuloto 405
Fass 407
Berending 415
Dandugu 416
Badari 418

3 152,154,155 Kalem Poll 203(2)

Kerewan 207

4 111,120,133,145,161, Berending 415(4)

163,164 Scarp 201
Sutoma 414
Dandugu 416

5 122,124 Lohen 412

Nyambai 424

6 003,005,021,027,032, Misera 401(9)

036, 037,047, 050,055, Charmen 403(8)
072,090,091,110,139, Dandugu 416(6)
300.301,302,303,307, Sutoma 414(4)
313,317,319,321,329, Jessadi 402(3)
334, 339, 346, 350, 356, Bafuloto 405 (3)
360, 362, 366, 368, 369, Kerewan 207(2)
372,373,375,401,404, Berending 415(2)
406,413,414,416,422, Badari 418(2)
424,428,441,451,457 Kurau Bakari 420(2)
Koina 427(2)
Kalem Poll 203
N'Geyen Sanjal 204
Choyen 316
Darusalameh 406
Jar Kunda 419
Nyambai 424
Kulari 425

7 042,051,071,312,418. Charmen 403(4)

446,455,458 Misera 401
Scarp 201
Bati Hai 404
Kulari 425

8 013,044,135,140,306, Bulgurk 201(4)

318,338,345,347,411, Scarp 202(4)
443, 444, 445 Kalem Poll 203
Kerewan 207
Jessadi 402
Jar Kunda 419
Nyamanari 423

10 025, 043, 053, 062, 065, Kalem Poll 203(5)

066,067,074,137,315, Faba 205(3)
316,323,325,335,336, Niji 409(3)
358,371,402,403,412, Scarp 201(2)
420,421,423,430 Bulgurk 202(2)
N'Geyen Sanjal 204(2)
Jar Kunda 419(2)
Nyamanari 423(2)
Jessadi 402
Timpa 410
Fitu 413
TABLE 19 (continued)

Soil Soil profiles

Series identified within association
association (WAG numbers)

11 006, 038,064, 092, 304, Jar Kunda 419(3)

305, 309, 322, 324, 374, Nyamanari 423(3)
377,408,431,434,435, Kalem Poll 203(2)
447, 448, 449 N'Geyen Sanjal 204(2)
Bowe 417(2)
N'Joren 426(2)
Faba 205
Jali 408
Niji 409
Fitu 413

12 015,028,054,070,113, Jessadi 402(8)

130,131,308,310,311, Jar Kunda 419(7)
326, 332, 333, 337, 340, Bowe 417(4)
341,342,343,349,351, Dandugu 416(3)
357, 363, 365,405, 409, Kalem Poll 203(2)
410,415,417,432,439, Charmen 403(2)
440, 442, 450, 453 Fitu 413(2)
Bulgurk 202
Faba 205
Misera 401
Niji 409
Sutoma 414
N'Joren 426

13 Fula Bantang 315(51

151,158,327,330,331, Choyen 316(3)
348,359,400,419,426, Sine 206(2)
427 Banatenda 313(2)
Faba 205
Mandori 301
Jonkoto 306
Prufu 312

14 381 Mandori 301

15 060,073,112,136, 141, Mandori 301 (6)

146,149,344,361,364, Salikene 302(2)
456 Bao 304
Jonkoto 306
Katchang 314

16 370 Mandori 301

17 500,504,510,517 Kudang 307(2)

Carrols Wharf 305
Jakhaly 310

18 320,501,505,507,511, Jakhaly 310(7)

515,518,519,521,525 Jonkoto 306
Kudang 307
Bambo Tumang 308

19 502, 503, 523 Bambo Tumang 308

Jakhaly 310
Walli Kunda 311

20 048,506,508,509,512, Walli Kunda 311(4)

513,514,516,520,524, Bambo Tumang 308(3)
526 Konkoto 306(2)
Kudang 307
Jarume Koto 309

21 004,009,012,020,022, Jonkoto 306(4)

030,031,314 Banatenda 313(2)
Kudang 307
Prufu 312

23 010,407,522 Soils of Soil Association 23

TABLE 20 Distribution of soil series within soil associations (Western Division)

Soil Soil profiles

association (WAG numbers) Series identified within association

1 004,006,040,051, 052, Charmen 403(7)

058, 059,060, 070,074, Timpa 410(6)
082, 087, 088, 092, 093, Bafuloto 405(4)
098,101,105,112,116, Sutoma 414(3)
117,118,119,121 Kerewan 207(2)
Bati Hai 404(2)

3 065,072, 076, 080,084, Charmen 403(3)

086 Kerewan 207
Timpa 410
Sutoma 414

4 067,102 Kurau Bakari 420

Kulari 425

5 003, 005,008, 011,050. Kulari 425(4)

094,095,099,100,106, Kalem Poll 203(2)
110,113 Timpa 410(2)
Choyen 316
Sutoma 414
Berending 415
Koina 427

6 020, 021,031, 035,049 Charmen 403(2)

Niji 409
Sutoma 414
Kulari 425

8 032 Kalem Poll 203

10 028,044 Kalem Poll 203

Kerewan 207

12 042,043,045,047,071, N'Joren 426(2)

089 Kalem Poll 203
Charmen 403
Niji 409
Karau Bakari 420

13 002,007,013,014,015, Fula Bantang 315(13)

033,041, 073,075, 081, Banatenda 313(2)


Soil Association 1

This association occurs on the crests and middle to upper slope positions of the inter-
fluves. The soils are mainly deep and well drained and developed over fine or medium
textured parent material. The major constituent series of the association are the
Misera, Charmen and Timpa Series (401, 403 and 410), with the reddest (F1) soils

The dominant series have been classified as ferrallitie soils according to the French
classification system. In a study of the distribution of ferrallitie soils Fauck (1972)
relates their development to climate and landscape position, suggesting an approximate
lower limit of 1200 mm (47 in) average annual rainfall for the development of ferrallitie
soils. Below this limit, which includes most of The Gambia, the soils will usually be
relict, having formed during an earlier more humid climatic period. It is unclear
whether or not significant changes are taking place in these soils at present.

In Western Division, Association 1 merges downslope into Soil Associations 4 and 5.

On the soil map they are sometimes shown adjoining the hydromorphic Soil
Associations 13 and 14, generally because an intervening occurrence of Association 4
or 5 is too small to map. With the transition to the lower plateau landform towards
the east, the association is gradually replaced by Soil Association 12. Soil Association 1
is most extensive in Western Division, occurring less frequently in North Bank Division
where it is mainly restricted to the west of the Bao Bolon.

Soil Association 2

This association is restricted to North Bank Division west of the Bao Bolon and occupies
the crests and middle to upper slope positions of some interfluves and slightly elevated,
often north-south orientated ridges. This association is similar to Soil Association 1 but
has been differentiated on the basis of including a higher proportion of more coarse-
textured soils. The main soils of the association are deep and well drained but are usually
developed on medium or coarse textured parent material. The major constituent series
of Soil Association 2 are the Charmen, Bafuloto, Fass and Timpa Series (403, 405,
407 and 410).

Bertrand (1971) describes an area of low, north-south orientated, convex ridges in

Sine Saioum just north of The Gambia. The predominance in these areas of soils with a
high content of fine sand leads him to propose that this is aeolian material and the
ridges represent the southern extremity of the aeolian dune complex further north. A
similar origin is proposed here for the area mapped in Soil Association 2 where many of
the soils have over 50% of their particles in the 100-250/LI fraction. Figure 33 is an
example of the particle size distribution in a soil occurring in Soil Association 2.
Obviously the overall situation is complicated since there must have been several
phases of f luviatile and aeolian reworking during the alternating humid and arid
periods of the Quaternary.

The association merges downslope into Soil Associations 1, 4 and 5 and may adjoin the
more eroded soils of Association 3. Occasionally Association 2 may be mapped adjacent
to the hydromorphic soils of Associations 13 and 14 where the intervening Associations
4 or 5 are insufficiently broad to be mapped. The distribution of series within Assoc-
iation 2 usually reflects slope position in a catenary soil colour sequence from the red
or yellowish red, freely drained soils of the crests of interfluves and ridges to the paler
coloured soils of the mid-slope positions merging with the less well drained soils of
Associations 4 or 5. The soils of Association 2 are commonly cultivated, being partic-
ularly favoured because of the deep, easily worked coarse-textured topsoil common to
most soils.

Soil Association 3

Soil Association 3 generally occupies extensions of eroded interfluves projecting into

the floodplain of the Gambia River and the Bintang Bolon. It is not represented west
of Faraba Banta in Western Division.

This association includes both shallow and deep soils, all of which are freely drained.
The major constituent soils are the Kalem Poll, Kerewan, Misera, Charmen and Bafuloto
Series (203, 207, 4 0 1 , 403 and 405). The proportion of shallow to deep soils is
difficult to estimate though it would seem that the very shallow soils (<25 cm, 10 in)
become increasingly common to the east where this association is gradully replaced by
Soil Association 8.

The three soil profiles examined within Association 3 are sited on a lower interfluve
slope position and each overlies either reworked or massive ironpan. The presence of
this ironpan, not more than 15 m (50 ft) above sea level in each case, can probably be
related to the lower ironpan level described by Michel (1973) and identified in
Figure 18.

This association usually occurs adjacent to Associations 1 or 2 and may merge down-
slope into Associations 4, 13 or 14.

Much of Association 3 is uncultivated; there are several forest parks.

Soil Association 4

This association occurs on the lower slopes of interfluves occupying sites at which
there is likely to be a large colluvial component in the soils. The commonly occurring
soils have sandy loam or sandy clay loam subsoils and are generally coarse-textured to



50 100

Particle diameter (ju)

FIGURE 33 Cumulative frequency distribution of particle size; Profile WAG 143, Charmen Series 4 0 3
a depth of about 1 m (3 f t ) . Soil colours are usually those associated with slow or
impeded drainage, the major constituent series being the Sutoma, Berending, Badari,
Kurau Bakari and Kulari Series (414, 415,418, 420 and 425).

Describing a similar situation in Sine Saloum, north of The Gambia, Bertrand (1971)
considers the soils to have developed within material which has experienced several
phases of localised colluviation and reworking. This interpretation may be confirmed by
the common occurrence of soils showing marked textural discontinuities within the
profile, a well defined increase in clay at about 70 to 100 cm (28-40 in), being accom-
panied by a marked decrease in the fine sand: coarse sand and ratio.

This soil association may grade upslope into Associations 1, 2, 3 or 12 and downslope
into Associations 5 , 1 3 or 14 thus occupying an intermediate position in a catenary
sequence from the red freely-drained soils of the upper interfluves to the grey hydro-
morphic soils of the drainage depressions.

The soils are often cultivated, although less so towards the lower lying sites adjoining
hydromorphic soils where shallow soils may occur overlying reworked ironpan gravel
occasionally re-cemented by additions of remobilised iron.

Soil Association 5

Association 5 occurs in depression sites, particularly common in Western Division and

less frequent in North Bank Division. The depressions are frequently eiongated,
associated with drainage lines or with less well defined seasonally waterlogged headwater
sites, which appear at one time to have formed more active drainage axes. In North
Bank Division this association occurs as isolated depressions near the main sources of the
Jikoi Bolon probably representing a headward extension of the drainage axes during the
Quaternary. Partial infilling of valleys associated with the drainage network during
more arid climatic periods of the late Quaternary has resulted in the isolation of these
depressions. Bertrand (1971) describes very similar depression sites following the axes
of former tributaries of the Saloum River, north of The Gambia.

The soils normally show evidence of imperfect drainage and shallow soils commonly
occur. The major constituent soils are the Faba, Nyambai and Koina Series (205, 424
and 427) although a fairly wide range of series has been identified within Soil
Association 5 probably related to slight variations in drainage conditions. Evidence of a
polygenetic parent material in some soils occurs in the form of stone lines and discon-
tinuities in texture within the soil profile; profile WAG 124 shows a 17% clay increase
at a depth of about 75 cm (30 in) coincident with a 10 cm (4 in) thick stone line. The
fine sand: coarse sand ratio changes from 6.7 in the horizon above the stone line to
9.0 below.

Association 5 may grade upslope into Associations 1, 2, 4 or 12 and downslope into

the hydromorphic Association 20. These areas are frequently uncultivated and in a
few cases are reserved as forest parks.


Soil Association 6

This is a widely distributed association occupying the colluvial slopes of valleys incised
into the Tertiary Senegambian Plateau and the slopes bordering the floodplain of the
Gambia River. Development of the hydrographic network associated with the Gambia
River began early in the Quaternary with a later important period of scarp retreat and
colluvial and alluvial deposition concurrent with the Ogolian marine regression.
Subsequent to the deposition of this material, further reworking has occurred,
principally by localised lateral colluviation. The soils show a wide range of drainage
conditions since the association covers all of the colluvial slope and is therefore a
complete catenary sequence from red freely drained soils in the upper slope position to
soils showing evidence of poor drainage in lower slope positions. The major constituent

soils, however, are considered to be the Misera, Charmen, Sutoma and Dandugu Series
(401, 403, 414 and 416).

The complex evolution of these colluvial slopes is reflected by the range of soil
series identified in sample strips 3 and 4 (Text Maps 12 and 13). Both of these areas
selected for detailed study include soils of Association 6, sample strip 3 covering an
area of colluvial slope between two well marked scarps, forming the edge of the
plateau. Hydromorphic soils of Association 13 occupy the centre of the valley
bordering a seasonal drainage line. Sample strip 4 includes an area of Association 6
on a gentle slope between Associations 12 and 13. In both cases, the colluvial slope
lies between approximately 9 m (30 ft) and 24 m (80 ft) above sea level with an
approximate slope of 1%. Evidence of the colluvial nature of the soils is found in the
presence of pronounced textural breaks in the profile; WAG 540 shows a clay
increase of 36% between 38 cm (15 in) and 62 cm (24 in) depth. Shards of earthen-
ware pottery sometimes associated with a stone line occasionally occur at depths of
between 30 cm (12 in) and 62 cm (24 in) often coinciding with a marked increase
in clay content of the underlying horizon. Some of these soils are probably develop-
ed on material which also has an alluvial contribution; the uniform, gentle slopes
expressed by the form lines in Text Map 12 correspond to the inflections of the
scarp slopes only at their uppermost positions, the lower and midslopes closely
assuming the form of a river terrace. Pereira Barreto (1966), in discussing similar
drainage axes to the east of The Gambia, identified a catenary sequence of ferrug-
inous tropical soils in the lower slope position developed over colluvio-alluvial
material grading upslope into weakly ferrallitic soils developed over predominantly
colluvial material and normally occurring close to outcropping ironpan.

Typically this association is limited upslope by the shallow soils of Soil Association
8, frequently forming a relatively steep scarp, and downslope grades into Association
13. Variations to this sequence are common and Association 6 may grade upslope
into Associations 9, 10, 11 or 12. Downslope it may merge with the hydromorphic
soils of Associations 14,15, 19, 20, 2 1 , 22 or 23 usually because intervening areas of
Association 13 are insufficiently broad to be mapped.

The area mapped as Association 6 is very largely cultivated, often with only short or
no fallow periods.

Soil Association 7

This association occurs on slopes bordering the floodplain of the Gambia River and
its major tributaries in a similar position and often adjacent to Association 6. It has
been separated from Association 6 on the grounds that it includes a higher proportion
of the more coarse-textured soils. The major constituent series have been identified
as the Charmen, Bafuloto and Fass Series (403, 405 and 407) (that is, red freely-
drained soils with a subsurface texture of sandy clay loam, sandy loam or loamy
sand). This distinction between Associations 6 and 7 has been based on the initial
examination of the soils by augering though the soil profiles subsequently described
in Association 7 do not seem to endorse the separation. The seven profiles of
Association 7, however, seem to have unusually deep coarser-textured upper
horizons, there being on average 65 cm (25 in) to soil with 20% or more clay. The
definition of Association 7 and the justification for its separation from Association 6
may have to be reappraised.

A typical example of Association 7 is the narrow interfluve separating the Gambia

River from the lower reaches of the Nianija Bolon just east of their confluence.
Several small plateau outliers in the form of ironpan-topped buttes dominate the
upper slopes of the interfluve and it seems that this association has developed
primarily on colluvial material derived from these highly eroded outliers. Similar
occurrences of these soils are located close to the confluences of the Sandugu and
Sofaniama Bolons with the Gambia River, suggesting again their association with the
more extensively eroded landscape positions.

Soil Association 8

This association occurs at the plateau edge usually marked by a more or less pro-
nounced scarp slope capped by outcropping ironpan. It comprises the scarp slope,
the land below the scarp dominated by detrital material from the scarp and the
edge of the plateau usually lying at approximately 40-50 m (130-160 ft) a.m.s.l.
Association 8 is also shown where the ironpan-capped outliers (or buttes) resulting
from the dissection of the plateau are sufficiently large to be mapped.

The soils are normally shallow with a predominance of soils less than 74 cm (30 in)
deep; the major constituent series are the Scarp, Bulgurk, Kalem Poll, N'Geyen
Sanjal and Kerewan Series (201.. 202.. 203,. 204 and 207),

Sample strips 2, 3 and 4 (Text Maps 1 1 , 12, 13) have inclusions of this soil
association. In sample strip 2 there is a transition from the shallow soils of the scarp
edge towards the deeper soils of the plateau centre. In strip 3 steeply sloping scarps
border either side of the valley of the Punti Bolon while in strip 4 there is a typical
plateau outlier.

Towards the interior of the plateau. Association 8 merges into Associations 10 and
11. There is usually a sharp division just beyond the base of the scarp between
Association 8 and Associations 6 or 7, though in some cases Association 8 may direct-
ly abut the alluvial areas or even form the river bank.

Soil Association 9

This infrequently occurring association occupies the upper reaches of small tributaries
of the River Gambia which have eroded headwards into the scarp slopes. It has not
been examined in any detail since it is usually relatively inaccessible and has very
little development potential. No profile pits have been located within this association
and the soils are predominantly shallow overlying coarse detrital material. The
major constituent series are the Scarp, Kalem Poll and Kerewan Series (201, 203
and 207).

Soil Association 10
This association is confined to the plateau surface where it occupies the outer zones
of the more extensive plateau areas but may occupy broader areas where the plateau
is more dissected. It comprises both deep and shallow soils which it is not possible to
separate since there is usually no consistent relationship between the two. The major
constituent soils of Association 10 are the Bulgurk, Kalem Poll, Faba, Niji, Jar Kunda
and N'Joren Series (202, 203, 205, 409, 419 and 426). Of the 24 soil profile pits
located within this association, 10 are deep soils and the remaining 14 cover a range of
shallow soils over ironpan or gravel at variable depths. A more detailed survey of
Association 10 has been included in sample strip 2 where it corresponds with mapping
unit 40. In this case four shallow soils and one deep soil were identified within an area
of 0.57 km2 (0.22 mi2).

A distinction can be made between some of these shallow soils depending on

whether the ironpan appears to have developed within the soil profile or not. In
cases where the ironpan appears to be in situ one generally finds, in the overlying
horizons, the development of soft or moderately hard sesquioxide concretions which
increase with depth and gradually give rise to ironpan by anastomosis. In other
cases, the soil may abruptly overlie ironpan or gravel and ironpan fragments suggest-
ing that the two have not developed concurrently.

The characteristic soils of this association appear t o be fairly extensive on the

Senegambian Plateau and similar soils to these have been mapped by Fauck et al.
(1963), Baldensperger et al. (1968), Hanrion ef al. (1971) and Bertrand (1971) in
areas of Senegal both north and south of The Gambia. Soil Association 10
frequently occupies a transitional zone between Association 8 and Association 11.

Soil Association 11

This association normally occupies the interior of the more extensive areas of
plateau. It includes both shallow and deep soils but with a marked predominance of
the deeper soils; of 18 soil profiles examined within this association only 5 were
< 125 cm (49 in) deep. The major constituent series are the Kalem Poll, N'Geyen
Sanjal, Faba, Bowe, Jar Kunda, Nyamanari and N'Joren Series (203, 204, 205, 417,
419, 423 and 426) with the latter four most dominant.

It seems therefore from an examination of the distribution of the plateau soils that
they progressively deepen with distance from the edge of the plateau. Pereira
Barreto (1966) considers that the entire plateau has at one time been covered by a
ferruginous ironpan, the deep soils towards the plateau centre having developed after
the erosion of the ironpan. Bertrand (1971) and Michel (1973), however, postulate
a more discontinuous development of the ironpan towards the plateau interior.
Similar doubt exists as t o whether the essentially very flat plateau surfaces are
slightly convex or concave. Most of the deep soils examined within this association
show pale matrix colours and mottling and concretionary development usually
indicative of imperfect drainage conditions. Baldensperger et al. (1968) explain
these characteristics by suggesting that the plateau centres form slight depressions
but Bertrand (1971) considers the plateau to be very slightly convex and that these
soils have resulted from the truncation of older soils by erosion during the
Quaternary. The morphological characteristics of these soils would therefore be
inherited and may correspond to the (B) or C horizons of originally ferrallitic soils.
Obvious depressions, however, do occur on the plateau and are often marked by
small ponds flooded during the wet season and surrounded by a limited extension
of outcropping ironpan. With distance from these depressions the soils deepen and
the ironpan may be replaced by plinthite. Examples of these plateau depressions
are described in greater detail by Hanrion et al. (1971). Evidence of a similar
transition from shallow soils over ironpan to deeper soils showing development of
plinthite was found in sample strip 2. These latter soils of Series 200 appear t o be
related to a slight north-south orientated depression and the accumulation of
sesquioxides has probably resulted from mobilisation and lateral movement of iron
from adjacent fossil ironpan.

Soil Association 12

Association 12 occupies landscape positions which are transitional between the

major landscape units of the plateau and the colluvial slope. In a number of
situations the plateau surface grades to the colluvial slope through a long gentle
slope which may be regarded as a dip slope. This association is mapped as an
intervening zone between the true plateau and colluvial slope areas. In other areas
where there is a distinct scarp there may be a rather flat stretch of land between
the scarp and the colluvial slope which may be a lower lying plateau of very
limited extent and this has also been mapped as Association 12. It is also shown
as occupying valley head situations where the headwaters of minor tributaries occupy
slight depressions incised into the plateau.

Due to the physiographically ill-defined and transitional nature of this association,

the range of soil series identified is fairly broad including soils characteristic of both
plateau and colluvial slope positions although the dominant soil series are more
akin to plateau soils in having a shallow coarse-textured surface over a fine-textured
subsoil. The soils cover a similar range to those of Association 6 but normally differ
in having a very shallow coarse-textured surface, a result possibly of the erosion of
these higher lying soils. The major constituent series are considered to be the
Kalem Poll, Jessadi, Charmen, Fitu, Bowe and Jar Kunda (203, 402, 403, 413, 417
and 419).

An area of red ferrallitic soils overlying a lower level of ironpan identified by

Baldensperger et al. (1968) in Middle Casamance just south of the border with
The Gambia may be regarded as equivalent to parts of the area of Association 12.

Such an area was included in sample strip 4 (Text Map 13) where it is designated
mapping unit 41 and was characterised by soil profile WAG 458 in which a red soil
overlies gravel and ironpan fragments at a depth of 130 cm, (50 in).

Association 12 may be limited upslope by the shallow soils of Association 8 or may

merge with the Associations 10 or 11. Downslope it may merge with Associations 6
or 13, although the boundary with the former may be fairly arbitrary.

The sous of the aüuvsurn

A considerable area of alluvial soils occurs in The Gambia associated mainly with
floodplain deposits of the River Gambia and to a lesser extent with alluvial deposits
of its tributaries. It is convenient in discussing distribution to consider the soils
affected permanently or temporarily by saline water separately from those unaffected,
this separation corresponding approximately to the western boundary of MacCarthy
Island Division. A further separation is made between the alluvial soils of MacCarthy
Island Division and Upper River Division. Finally the soil association representative
of colluvio-alluvial soils common throughout The Gambia is considered. Where
appropriate, special reference is made to alluvial areas surveyed in greater detail in
MacCarthy Island Division and to sample strips.



Soil Association 14

The present distribution of this association closely corresponds with the limit of
saline water intrusion in the Gambia River during the dry season with a gradual
decrease in extent from west to east. It includes that area subject to flooding by the
tide and normally colonised by mangrove species and also some of the slightly
higher lying areas not usually flooded by the tide and normally completely devoid
of vegetation, commonly referred to as the barren flats. The soils are mainly young
soils developing on recent fluvio-marine sediments. A wide range of soil conditions
is in fact encountered within the mangrove area but since this area was not studied
the soils are simply grouped under the heading Mangrove Soils (Series 300). For a
detailed account of mangrove soils in The Gambia reference should be made to
Giglioli and Thornton (1965), Thornton and Giglioli (1965) and Giglioli and King
(1966). The slightly higher lying areas of barren flat which, due to the limitations
imposed by map scale have sometimes been included within Association 14, have
predominantly very saline and extremely acid soils of the Mandori Series (301).
Association 14, therefore, comprises mainly Mangrove Soils (300) and the Mandori
Series (301) but with the Mangrove Soils predominant.

Similar areas in Senegal have been described by Bertrand (1970), Vieillefon (1969,
1972) and Beye (1972).

Soil Association 15

This association is mainly restricted to a river terrace occurring between the Mini
Minium and the Nianija Bolons on the north bank and the Bintang Bolong and
Pasul Island on the south bank of the River Gambia. The terrace forms flat, low
lying extensions of the valley floor with a complex network of temporary and perm-
anent drainage depressions. These periodically flooded areas have a vegetation cover
of sparse edaphic grassland which may include halophytic species.

The dominant soils are fine-textured and were saline (EC (1:5) > 1 0 0 0 ^mhos/cm)
and very strongly or extremely acid when described and sampled during the dry
season; in most cases the water table was at a depth of < 2 m (6 ft). Some less

acid but still saline soils also occur within this association so that the major constit-
uent series are considered to be the Mandori and Salikene Series (301 and 302) with
the more acid Mandori Series predominant. Two slightly less saline soils with an
irregularly-textured profile reflecting a more complex depositional history have been
described. An extension of these soils into Senegal along the valley of the Bao Bolon
has been described by Bertrand (1971).

This association may adjoin Associations 14 or 16 towards the River Gambia.

Towards the edge of the floodplain it may merge with Association 13 or if this
association is too narrow to be mapped, with Associations 4, 6 or 8.

Soil Association 16

This association extends from a few miles west of the Trans-Gambia highway to the
Nianija Bolon, in areas adjacent to mangrove towards its western limit but occupying
a larger area further east as the mangrove gradually disappears. The soils are affected
by saline water for part of the year but much of the salt is flushed out by the rains.
Over much of the area the watertable remains very high throughout the year so that
conditions of extreme acidity do not develop and the dominant series of the assoc-
iation is considered to be the Salikene Series (302) although the very acid Mandori
Series (301) is still a major constituent.

Sample strip 5 (Text Map 14) includes an area of this association: represented by
mapping unit 58. When the survey of this sample strip was undertaken during March,
the average electrical conductivity of 1:5 extracts of surface 10 cm (4 in) samples
from 12 sites within this unit was 6.0 mmhos/cm and the watertable was either
at or within 30 cm (12 in) of the surface. The pH of samples obtained by augering
was variable but usually within the range 5.0-6.5, increasing with depth. Soils more
typical of Association 15 correspond to mapping unit 57 and occur on slightly
higher lying ground; a deeper watertable in these soils has resulted in the drying out
and oxidation of the upper part of the soil profile during the dry season resulting in
the development of acid sulphate conditions.

Soil Association 16 may merge with the mangrove soils of Association 14 towards
the river or with the slightly higher lying Association 15 towards the inner margins
of the alluvial floodplain. In other cases Association 16 may adjoin Associations 6, 7,
8 or 13.


Soil Association 17

The major occurrences of this association have been mapped within an area limited
by the confluence of the Nianija Bolon and the Gambia River to the west and the
Patchar Bolon to the east. The western limit corresponds to a transition from the
soils normally affected by salt water for some part of the year, to the morphologi-
cally similar but permanently non-saline soils of this association. These areas have a
high density of interconnecting temporary and permanent drainage depressions and
are subject to seasonal flooding. The natural vegetation is tall grass with limited
inclusions of riparian forest and thicket which have occasionally developed along the
banks of the Gambia River and some of the permanently flooded drainage depressions.

The major constituent soils are the non-saline Kudang and Jakhaly Series (307 and

It must be emphasised that the boundary separating Association 17 from the salt-
water-affected Association 16 is not necessarily a permanent one, being based on
salinity, a changeable soil characteristic. The location of this boundary on the soil
association map is therefore only approximate, based on a limited knowledge of the
extent of salt water intrusion into the Gambia River during the dry season and a
detailed survey of Alluvial Area 1b (Text Map 3) where the most easterly occurrences
of significantly saline soils were identified.
The distribution of soils within this association is shown in greater detail in the soil
maps of Alluvial Areas 1b, 1a, 2 and 3 (Text Maps 3-6) and a section across Area 1b,
illustrating the relationship between soil series and topography, is shown in Figure
34. Soil Association 17 merges with the slightly higher lying Associations 18, 19 or
20 or with Associations 8 or 13.

Soil Association 18

This association extends from east of Kudang to the Upper River Division boundary
and occupies the very flat, seasonally flooded or waterlogged grassland areas often
partially or completely enclosed by a complex of higher-lying, wooded river terraces
or levees. These areas appear to be somewhat less susceptible to deep flooding than
those of Association 17, either occupying slightly higher-lying sites, or being
completely enclosed by higher-lying ground and therefore protected from flooding
from the river.

The most dominant soil is the Jakhaly Series (310) which is of alkaline reaction and
has a high base saturation with a very high proportion of calcium in the exchange
complex. It is possible that these soils have developed in a calcium-rich parent
material derived from the calcareous sandstone formation identified by Cooper
(1927) in the vicinity of Walli Kunda. In one profile (WAG 509) carbonate concre-
tions were found at a depth of 50 cm (20 in). The other major constituent series
are the Jonkoto, Kudang and Bambo Tumang (306, 307 and 308).

Text Maps 4-9 illustrate in greater detail the distribution of soils within Association
18 and the corresponding cross-sections in Figures 34 and 35 show the relationship
between soils and topography. The mapping units recognised in the detailed survey
of Alluvial Areas 1a, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, which are approximately equivalent to
Association 18 of the soil association map, are Units 68, 75, 67, 73, 78 and 64
respectively. Thé dominant soil series identified within these units has either been
Jakhaly (310) or Kudang (307) with a gradual predominance of the latter in the
areas furthest to the east. This trend reflects a transition from soils showing one or
more alkaline horizons and a high base saturation to more acid soils with a lower
base saturation further east. In Upper River Division the trend continues with the
grassland alluvial areas of Association 21 dominated by the moderately to very
strongly acid soils of the Jonkoto Series (306). The detailed distribution of these
soils over a small area is shown in sample strip 1 (Text Map 10).

Soil Association 19

This association is restricted to an area between Kudang and Georgetown, occurring

on narrow levees reflecting changes in the course of the Gambia River or on broader
alluvial terraces dissected by a system of narrow interconnecting seasonal drainage
depressions. This old drainage network is referred to as the prior floodplain. These
areas have an open woodland vegetation often dominated by Mitragyna and are not
normally flooded apart from the drainage lines within the alluvial terraces and
occasional isolated depressions.

The major constituent soils are the Bambo Tumang and Walli Kunda Series (308 and
311), the former being most dominant,which distinguishes this association from
Association 20.

The surveyed Alluvial Areas 1a, 2 and 4 (Text Maps 4, 5 and 7) include this
association which is represented in these areas by Mapping Units 79, 80 and 81
respectively. Topographical sections are shown for these areas in Figures 34 and 35
and include sections across a terrace (Area 1a) and levees (Areas 2 and 4). A small
area of Association 19 is included in sample strip 1 (Text Map 10).

The association generally merges with Associations 13, 17, 18 or 20.


Vertical exaggeration x 200 for all cross-sections

150 300 450 600 750 900 1050 1200 1350 1800m

ALLUVIAL AREA 1a Cross-sec tion traverse A.TR1a/2

(Text map 4)

Mapping unit 79
Mapping unit 68 Mapping unit 63

» \

Origin loi is approximately 6 feet above sea level


600 1600 2400 3200 4000 4800 5600 6400 7200 8000 g B00 feet
i i i i i i i ii i i 1 I
300 600 900 1200 1500 2100 2400 2700m

ALLUVIAL AREA 2 Cross-section traverse A.TR2/2

(Text map 5)

Mapping unit 72

Mapping unit 72

Origin (0) is approximately 5 feet above sea level RIVER

800 1600 2400 3200 4000 4800 5600 6400 7200 8000 9600 feel
t L. _i l
600 900 1200 1500 1800 2100 2700 3300m

ALLUVIAL AREA 3 Cross-section traverse A.TR3/4

(Text map 6) Mapping unit 69 EAST
Mapping unit 69 Mapping unit 69
Mapping unit 67 Mapping unit 67

60 12-

Origin (0) is approximately 5 feet above sea level

800 2400 3200 4000 4800 5600 6400 7200 8000 8800 10400 11200 12000 12800 13600 14400 15200 feet
-J !—l
300 600 900 1200 1500 1800 2100 2400 2700 3000 3300 3600 3900 4500 4800m

FIGURE 3 4 Cross-sections along representative traverses in alluvial areas 1b, 1a, 2 and 3 showing the relationship between mapping units and topography
ALLUVIAL AREA 4 Cross-section traverse A.TR4/3
(Text map 7)

Vertical exaggeration x 2 0 0 for all cross-sections

Mapping unit 73

Origin (01 is approximately 9 feet above sea level

800 2400 4000 4800 5600 6400 7200 8000 8800 fiel
-i 1 _
300 600 900 1800 2100 2400 2700m

A L L U V I A L AREA 5 Cross-section traverse A . T R 5 / 3

(Text map 8)

Note : Section starts 2 8 0 0 feet from traverse origin as shown in Text map 2-7

Mapping unit 70

Origin |0| is approximately 8 feet above sea level

1600 2400
1800 2100 2700 3000

ALLUVIAL AREA 6 Cross-section traverse A.TR6/2

(Text map 9)
300 10 -

Mapping unit 71

ISO 6 •


800 4000 4800 5600 6400 7200 8000 8800 9600 feel

300 600 900 1200 1500 1800 2100 2400 2700 I 3000m
FIGURE 3 5 Cross-sections along representative traverses in alluvial areas 4 , 5 and 6 s h o w i n g the relationship between mapping units and topography j
Soil Association 20

This has been identified between Kudang and the boundary with Upper River
Division. It occupies terraces of the prior floodplain which are judged to be slightly
higher lying than those occupied by Association 19. The major constituent series are
the same as those in 19 but in Association 20 the Walli Kunda Series (311) is
considered to occur more frequently than the Bambo Tumang Series (308).

A more detailed appreciation of the distribution of soils within this association has
resulted from the surveys of Areas 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 (Text Maps 5-9) where it is
mapped as Units 69, 70, 76 and 77, and from the survey of sample strip 1 (Text
Map 10) where it is mapped as Units 82 and 83. Cross-sections illustrating the
relationship between topography and soil distribution are shown in Figures 19 and
20. From these surveys it would seem that Association 20 may include the
Banatenda and Choyen Series (313 and 316) which have coarse-textured horizons
within the profile, and the Jarume Koto Series (309) which is of colour class H3
normally associated with the better-drained sites. The dominance of the alkaline
Walli Kunda Series (311) in Alluvial Areas 2 and 3 being gradually replaced by the
more acid Bambo Tumang Series (308) in Areas 4, 5 and 6 further east corroborates
a trend already indicated in the discussion of Association 18.

Soil Association 20 may grade into Associations 17, 18 or 19, or to Associations 6

or 13 towards the inner margin of the floodplain.


Soil Association 21

The majority of the alluvial areas of Upper River Division have been included in this
association which occupies broad, slightly concave sloughs enclosed between the
levees adjacent to the Gambia River and the colluvial slopes bordering the flood-
plain. These depressions have a natural vegetation of grass and are subject to
inundation during the wet season probably from the combined effects of flooding
from the River Gambia and the drainage of seasonally active tributaries into these
areas. Very poorly drained, they are characterised by occasional ponded depressions,
a few of which may remain flooded throughout the dry season.

The major constituent soils are the fine-textured Jonkoto and Kudang Series (306
and 307) and the more irregularly-textured Prufu and Banatenda Series (312 and
313). A very similar soil suite has been described by Pereira Barreto (1966) within
the floodplain of the Gambia River to the east of The Gambia. This association
merges with Associations 22 and 23 or with 6, 8 and 13 towards the inner margins
of the alluvial floodplain.

Soil Association 22

The areas mapped as Association 22 are river terraces, slightly higher-lying than the
areas of Association 21 and carrying a grassland vegetation with scattered shrubs.
These areas have not been surveyed because of difficulties of access; however,
apart from occupying slightly better drained sites, the distribution of soil series is
probably very similar to the adjoining soils of Association 2 1 .

Soil Association 23

This association occupies levees which border the Gambia River more or less
continuously from the boundary with MacCarthy Island Division where it very
gradually merges with Association 20. These areas are not normally subjected to
prolonged flooding and they have an open woodland vegetation. The soils are young
and weakly-developed with the profiles examined showing marked variations in
profile morphology reflecting a complex depositional history. No attempt has been

made to apply series definitions to these soils. Similar soils on levees bordering the
Gambia River in Senegal have been described by Pereira Barreto (1966). The
association generally merges with Associations 8, 21 and 22.


Soil Association 13

Association 13, common throughout The Gambia, comprises non-saline, hydromorphic

soils which have developed in and adjacent to drainage depressions often associated
with minor, seasonally active tributaries of the Gambia River. It also occurs as a
discontinuous strip bordering the aiiuviai fioodpiain of the Gambia River, in both
cases, a range of soils has been identified reflecting a complex distribution pattern
influenced by colluvial and alluvial deposition in these lower slope landscape

The dominant soils identified during the reconnaissance survey were deep coarse-
textured soils of the Fula Bantang Series (315) and the Prufu and Banatenda Series
(312 and 313) with fine-textured surfaces overlying coarser horizons. Hydromorphic
soils overlying cuirasse, the Sine Series (206), have been described. An area of Soil
Association 13 surveyed in detail in sample strip 3 (Text Map 12) included the
Sabi Series (200), showing the development of plinthite, adjacent to the Punti Bolon.
U n ~ . ^ r > r > : n n . . . , : * , . ; n T~x,* (!*„.•. 1 0 „ ~ . . : . . _ i - _ * * _ A _ _ _ ~ : - - ^ : — i o /ir\ en co 1
• n u m«j|^|^ii i^ U I I I U i n I C / \ L i T i a p ic c i ^ u i v a i c i i i I U n a a u u i a i i u n 1 0 a i c - r e , «JV, <>£. ai I U
53. Similar soil suites have been described by Baldensperger et al. (1968) in
Casamance and by Bertrand (1971) in Sine Saloum where they are associated with
tributaries of the Gambia River and the Bao Bolon. This association usually merges
upslope with Associations 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8, and downslope it adjoins the
alluvial mapping associations.


Soil Association 24

This association, of very limited extension, has not been surveyed in any detail. The
two series identified within it, Sanyang (101) and Solifor (102), are weakly developed
coarse-textured soils on pre-Nouakchottian and recent sand dunes respectively. They
occur along the coast.

Miles 0 2 Miles
Kilometres 0 3 Kilometres

Town or village. <Zi Soil series boundary

Road Traverse line \ ALLUVIAL AREA 1 b
Traverse line
Track or footpath (used for cross-section)
River --^'"' Soil profile pit '_ »517

Soil series
60 Carrol's Wharf Series 305 (dominant)

61 Jonkoto Series 306 (dominant)

Carrol's Vjellv
Wharf 62 Jonkoto Series 306. Wetter phase (dominant)

63 Jonkoto Series 306. G.W.T. <50cm (dominant)


Soil series
62 Jonkoto Series306. Wetter phase (dominant)
Miles 0 1 2 Miles 63 Jonkoto Series 306. G.W.T. < 5 0 c m (dominant)

Kilometres 0 3 Kilometres 65 Kudang Series307 (dominant)
Kudang Series307. Wetter phase (associated)
Town or village "Cu Soil series boundary
Road Traverse line
68 Jakhaly Series310 (dominant)
Traverse line Kudang Series 307 (associated)
Track or footpath ( u s e d for cross-section)
River -^~' Soil profile pit »503 79 Walli Kunda Series 311 (dominant)
Jakhaly Series 3 1 0 )
Bambo Tumang Series 308 } (associated)
Kudang Series 307 )



D.O.S.3213D Prepared by Directorate of Overseas Surveys 1976

Soil series
1:50,000 63 Jonkoto Series 306. G.W.T. <50cm (dominant)
Miles O 1 2 Miles
h- 72
Kilometres 0
Kudang Series 307 (dominant)
Jakhaly Series 310 >. . . ..
•^ j o • ~ m >A< .. u ^associated
Kudang Series 307. Wetter phase )
Town or village d ü Soil series boundary
Road = Traverse line . 75 Jakhaly Series 310 (dominant)
Traverse line Walli Kunda Series 311 ) , . , ..
Track or footpath ( u s e d for cross-section) „ . <-. • _ „ - , \ associated)
Kudang Series 307 S
River -~, Soil profile pit e 507
76 Walli Kunda Series 311 (dominant)
Bambo Tumang Series 308 \ , .,
_ , _ _ , _ f (3SSOCI3tGQ)
Banatenda Series 313 >
80 Bambo Tumang Series 308 (dominant)
Walli Kunda Series 311 )
ALLUVIAL AREA 2 Jakhaly Series 310 [ (associated)
Kudang Series 307 )

Mimang Island

Map Soil series

63 Jonkoto Series 306. G.W.T. < 5 0 c m (dominant)
Miles 0 1 2 Miles 67 Kudang Series 307 I (codominant)
Jakhaly Series 310 J
Kilometres 0 Kilometres
69 Walli Kunda Series 311 (dominant)
BamboTumang Series 308 (associated)
T o w n or village <CZ5 Soil series boundary
Road -.-_ Traverse line- 74 Jakhaly Series 310 (dominant)
Traverse line
Track or f o o t p a t h (used for cross-section) Kudang Series 307 I (associated)
River ~ ^ Soil profile pit «510 Kudang Series 307. Wetter phase '

81 Walli Kunda Series 311 > (codominant)

Bambo Tumang Series308 >
Jakhaly Series 310 > ( a s s o c i a t e d )
Kudang Series 307 )




,63f 6.3


Jarume Koto

Kudang Series 307 • I (codominant)

Kudang Series 307. Wetter phase I
Kudang Series 307 (dominant)
Jakhaly Series 3 1 0 ) (associated)

Walli Kunda Series 311 } (codominant)

Bambo Tumang Series 308 1
Jarume Koto Series 309 (associated)
Walli Kunda Series 311 } (codominant)
Bambo Tumang Series 3 0 8
Jakhaly Series 3 1 0 1 ( a s s o c i a t e d )
Kudang Series 307 )

1 2 Miles

3 Kilometres

C 3 Soil series boundary

Traverse line-

Kudang Series 307 ). . =„_„,.

is j o • ortT u i ^ u Mcodom nant)
Kudang Series 307. Wetter phase I

Bambo Tumang Series 308 (dominant)

Walli Kunda Series 311 (associated) m
Kudang Series 307 (dominant)
Jakhaly Series 310 )
Bambo Tumang Series 308 > (associated) >
Walli Kunda Series 311 ) •v

Miles 0 1 2 Miles

Kilometres 0 Kilometres

Town or village O Soil series boundary

Road -„— Traverseline
Traverse line
Track or footpath (used for cross-section)
River ~-^"'" Soil profile pit • 521

641 i



64 \ \
71 •<£&
\ \
64 82
^ 64
,521 ^

l /


\ N'Gaie



y KKunda
unda __
\ \
I [Charjei
USare Pate
'-'Bankuba'- 82


Soil series 164\
64 Kudang Series 307 (dominant)
Bambo Tumang Series 308 (associated)

71 Bambo Tumang Series 3 0 8 (dominant)

Kudang Series 307 (associated)

82 Bambo Tumang Series 308 ) (codominant)

Soils of Soil Association 23 '
Choyen Series 316 } (associated)
Banatenda Series 3 1 3 '
A A'

Mapping unit 30 32 34 36

Jonkoto Series 306 ï Very poorly drained Jakhaly Series 3 1 0 Poorly drained Jakhaly Series 3 1 0 ) Moderately well Bambo Tumang Series 3 0 8 ) Moderately well
Soil series
Kudang Series 307 ) humose phases Kudang Series 3 0 7 moderately humose phases Kudang Series 3 0 7 ƒ drained phases Walli Kunda Series 31 1 ƒ drained silty phases .524 Soil profile pit
and number
Mapping unit 31 I 33 35 37

Jakhaly Series 3 1 0 1 Poorly drained Jakhaly Series 3 1 0 Bambo Tumang Series 3 0 8 ) Moderately well Bambo Tumang Series 3 0 8 )
Soil series Poorly drained humose phases Well drained silty phases
Kudang Series 307 ƒ non-humose phases Kudang Series 3 0 7 Walli Kunda Series 31 1 ) drained phases Walli Kunda Series 31 1 ƒ



Vertical exaggeration x50


1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 8000 I 9000 10000 feet

D.O.S.3213K I Prepared by Directorate of Overseas Surveys 1976

1:6,000 (Approx) TEXT MAP 11


160 m


D O S.3213L Prepared by Directorate of Overseas Surveys 1976


Mapping unit Soil series

38 Scarp Series 201

41 Misera Series 401

Niji Series 4 0 9 (dominant)

Misera Series 4 0 1

Bowe Series 41 7

Badari Series 4 1 8
Dandugu Series 4 1 6

Niji Series 4 0 9

46 Jar Kunda Series 4 1 9

Kulari Series 4 2 5
Choyen Series 3 1 6
50 Sabi Series 2 0 0

Banatenda Series 3 1 3

52 Kudang Series 3 0 7 Silty phases

Jakhaly Series 3 1 0

Banatenda Series 31 3

Sabi Series 2 0 0
53 Silty phases
Bambo Tumang S e r i e s 3 0 8

Walli Kunda Series 311

Formline interval 5 f e e t
• 536 Soil profile pit and number

D.O.S 3213M
Prepared by Directorate of Overseas Surveys 1976
1: 6,000 (Approx) SAMPLE STRIP 4-PATEH SAM TEXT MAP 1 3

Mapping unit Soil series

38 Scarp Series 2 0 1

41 Misera Series 4 0 1

42 Charmen Series 4 0 3

44 ' Timpa Series 4 1 0


46 i Jar Kunda Series 41 9

Kurau Bakari Series 4 2 0
Kulari Series 4 2 5

Choyen Series 3 1 6 )
51 I > Silty phases
Banatenda Series 31 3 '


Vertical exaggeration x17 approx

Formline interval 5feet
554 Soil profile pit and number


30 ill *m m
1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 feet

D.O.S.3213N Prepared by Directorate of Overseas Surveys 1976

nni5 r '588 «


588 B'


Mapping unit Soil series

Kalem Pol Series 203 E'
Kalem Pol Series 203 Hydromorphic phase
55 Prufu Series 312
56 Jonkoto Series306
Mandori Series 301 (dominant)
57 F'
Mandori Series 301 Fine over coarse textured phase
Mandori Series 301 ) .. . . . . .
SalikeneSeries302 ƒ Very poorly drained phases
• 564 Soil profile pit and number
1572 JS73 ,574 L .575 I i I
1000 2000 3000 4000 feet
Part 11


The vegetation of much of The Gambia can be described as savanna woodland with
grass and shrub understoreys;in the moister western area of the country there are
remnants of woodland similar to that occurring elsewhere in West Africa in the
Southern Guinea Savanna; in the centre and eastern areas the vegetation is similar to
that found in the Sudan Zone. The occurrence together of woody species from
different zones could be attributed to the high rainfall and river influence and to the
long dry season. Aubreville (1949) quotes the term 'Sudano-Guinea forest Savanna'
(introduced by Chevalier) to describe the western part of the country.

There are few areas which have not been modified by fire or by cultivation and which
do not constitute secondary vegetation; the mangrove swamps are among the least
changed although many stands of mangrove are cut for fuel. In The Gambia vegetation
can be related t o edaphic factors and a small number of vegetation categories has been
identified with the soil associations which have been mapped and are discussed in
Part 10; these vegetation categories are listed in Table 21 and are subsequently described.


With the exception of Western Division and North Bank Division where forest parks
and forestry plantations (part of Nyambai) occur on Soil Association unit 1, the
vegetation of these frequently farmed areas consists of widely scattered trees of
economic importance. Trees are often tall and graceful, provide shade and result in a
pleasing landscape. They include Parkia biglobosa, Bombax öuonopozensè and Khaya
senegalensis; the last is particularly common near stream lines. Adansonia digitata,
Ceiba pentandra and Mangifera indica are most common around villages and old
village sites. Faidherbia (Acacia) albida is preserved and individual trees are often
characterised by better cereal growth around the base.

Shrub growth is almost totally absent apart from plants such as Icacina senegalensis
which persists in cleared land for many years.

Herbaceous vegetation consists mainly of arable weeds including Striga hermontheca.

Cassia sp., Borreria stachydea, Hyptis suaveolens, Acanthospermum hispidum and
Sesbania sp. Fallows are usually too short t o allow anything but the earliest stage of a
grass succession, the mainly annual grasses included Eragrostis tremula, Dactyloctenium
aegyptium, Pennisetum pedicellatum, Digitaria sp., and Setaria pallidefusca.

For an account of the woodlands occurring on these units, reference should be made
to the description which follows.

TABLE 21 Vegetation categories and soil associations

Vegetation category

1.2 Parkland or woodland savanna: medium to tall trees scattered in frequently cultivated
areas (forest parks and plantations occur on these units in Western Division and in Kiang
WestrLower River Division)

3 Disturbed woodland/shrub understorey:varies from woody fallows to open woodland

4,5 Woodland: includes riparian woodland when this is not mapped under 13(a)

6,7 Parkland: see 1 and 2

8-12 Disturbed woodland: see 3

13 a. Riparian thickets
b. Fringing woodland
c. Mitragyna and/or Acacia scattered-tree savanna .(cultivation on this unit in some
14 a. Mangrove
b. Barren flats
15 Herbaceous f loodplain: cover variable, woody species sometimes present
16 Medium-tall flooded grassland
17,18 Medium height grassland: Mitragyna sometimes present
19.20 Wooded levies and alluvial areas
21,22 Medium height grassland (see 17,18)
23 Wooded levies and alluvial areas (see 19,20)
24 Coastal vegetation a. Parinari-Loudetia
b. Borassus
c. Dunes with stunted Adansonia
d. Low tree — tall grass

The woodland types occurring in The Gambia can be related to climatic factors, the
soil and topography and past land use. The higher rainfall of the western parts of the
country is reflected in the woodland communities. In the Western Division and the
western part of North Bank Division, the woodlands, where relatively undisturbed, are
taller and denser than in the drier eastern part of The Gambia. Tree species which are
either restricted to the lower slopes or are widely scattered over most of the country
occur more frequently in the west. Typical of Associations 1, 2, 6 and 7 in the west is
Daniellia oliveri woodland. D. oliveri is a typical species of Northern Guinea Zone
woodland (Keay, 1953) and it appears to be at the limit of its distribution in the
western Gambia. Common larger tree associates are Pterocarpus erinaceus, Terminalia
albida, Parkia biglobosa, Khaya senegalensis, Bombax buonopozense and Ficus spp,
mainly F. ingens and F. capensis. Common smaller tree associates in Daniellia
woodland are Lannea velutina, Pileostigma thonningii, Prosopis africana. Acacia
sieberiana and Acacia macrostachya. The commonest large shrub is probably
Combretum micranthum, and it occasionally develops into a small tree form. To the
east, which is drier, Daniellia oliveri does not occur and Khaya senegalensis is usually
restricted to moister sites. The trees are generally smaller and the canopy lighter.
Typical larger tree species are Anogeissus leiocarpa, Pterocarpus erinaceus and Bombax
buonopozense. Conspicuous because of its patchy light coloured bark is Sterculia
setigera. Man-made fires sweep annually through these woodlands, damaging or
destroying any fire-sensitive trees. Regeneration by seed and root sucker is restricted,
causing a steady impoverishment of the woodland both in terms of density of growth
and in selectively reducing or eliminating less fire-resistant species.


Association 4 on lower interfluve slopes and Association 5 on broad depression sites

support a more diverse woodland community than Associations 1, 2, 6 and 7 on
account of the higher watertable.

Typical of those that remain are.large individuals of Khaya senegalensis standing out as
pre-emergents above the general canopy of the woodland. The larger trees Detarium
senegalense. Parkfa biglobosa, Parinari excelsa, Dialium guineense, Erythrophleum
guineense and the palm Elaeis guineensis are characteristic of such sites, particularly in
the western part of the country. Chlorophora regia may have occurred typically on
such sites, but its population is now reduced to negligible proportions and specimen
trees planted imtowns and villages may be on atypical sites. Trees such as Prosopis
africana, Pterocarpus erinaceus and Terminalia albida commonly form a lower stratum
in these woodlands with occasional individuals reaching larger size. Pileostigma
thonningii. Cassia sieberiana and Lannea velutina are common small trees; Acacia spp.
and Combretum spp. are common shrubs. Due to the large human and cattle
populations these woodlands are much disturbed. Particularly on lower interfluve
slopes the dominant trees are tall with 8-9 m (26-29 ft)of clean stem. The structure of
the vegetation approximates more t o forest than to woodland because there is a fairly
continuous canopy with some emergents rather than a level but discontinuous canopy.



The vegetation occurring on these units reflects varying degrees of disturbance, depth of
soil (which itself influences the intensity of cultivation) and climatic differences. It is not
always possible t o explain the localised occurrence of some species.

Units 3, 8 and 9 are least disturbed apart from fierce dry-season fires which occur
frequently. Unit 10 has areas which are farmed at intervals and this has resulted in the
destruction of some trees and coppicing from the stumps of others. Units 11 and 12
include areas of deeper soil which are farmed regularly and many of these areas support
a woody fallow of shrubs and immature tree species. Species and genera of the
Combretaceae and Leguminoseae are very common throughout this disturbed wood-
land, including Combretum micranthum, Terminalia albida and T. macroptera. Guiera
senegalensis tends to be localised but often forms dense stands. Anogeissus leiocarpa is
common in MacCarthy Island Division, Cordyla pinnata. Cassia sieberiana, Swartzia
madagascariensis, Prosopis africana and Acacia spp. are all common and widespread;
Pterocarpus erinaceus is widespread and very common but in the cattle districts there
are few trees which are not severely mutilated. Sterculia setigera appears to be most
common in MacCarthy Island Division. Sclerocarya birrea, Vitex cuneata and Zizyphus
mauritiana occur frequently but their distribution is uneven. Ficus spp. occur widely
and Oxytenanthera abyssinica is widespread in the eastern end of the country but its
occurrence is being reduced by cutting for cane and by dry-season grazing.

The herbaceous layer as a result of fire and selective grazing has been reduced to a small
number of species; Diheteropogon hagerupii and Pennisetum hordeoides are very
common and Hyparrhenia spp. also occur. In some areas the flora is more varied but
the cover is frequently sparse; Loudetia simplex, Schizachyrium exile, Schoenefeldia
gracilis, Ctenium elegans, Pennisetum pedicellatum and Andropogon spp. are common.


a. Riparian thickets and woodlands

With the exception of Western Division, where this unit has been extensively cultivated,
stream lines support a dense growth of tall entangled shrubs, sometimes with large
emergent trees.

Elaeis guineensis is confined to stream lines of the western part of the country;
throughout the country some of the finest surviving specimens of tree species such as
Khaya senegalensis are to be found along stream lines. The more thicket-like communi-
ties include Anthocleista frezoulii. Acacia sieberiana, Pileostigma thonningii and
Dicrostachys glomerata.

b. Fringing woodland

In a number of areas including North Bank Division there are narrow belts of tall, well
developed woodland immediately above the f loodplain. Tree species include Parinari
excelsa, Khaya senegalensis and Detarium senegalensis. The herbaceous vegetation
consists of tall grasses Andropogon tectorum, A. gayanus and Beckeropsis uniseta.

c• Mitragyna-Acacia scattered tree savanna

Also occurring on Unit 13 but easily distinguished from the previous categories is a
Mitragyna-Acacia scattered tree savanna.

An example of this vegetation type occurs near Pakali Ba, MacCarthy Island Division.
Low trees mainly Mitragyna inermis and Acacia seyal occur in a low to medium height
grassland of Brachiara fulva, Paspalum sp., Schizachyrium sp. and Setaria pallidefusca.


a- Mangrove

Giglioli and Thornton (1965) have described the mangroves of The Gambia in general
and of the Keneba locality in particular. The mangrove forests show a marked zonation
according to level on the intertidal zone and soil physical and chemical characteristics.
Each saline watercourse is characteristically bordered up to the limit of daily tidal
flooding by a gallery of tall Rhizophora racemosa. Inside this gallery up to the mean
limit of inundation by spring tides are found woodlands of Avicennia africana.
Rhizophora harrisonii and R. mangle occur at the boundary between the R. racemosa
and A. africana stands. A t Keneba, Giglioli and Thornton found that R. harrisonii
colonised the clay/root fibre matrix recently vacated by R. racemosa; R. mangle
colonised the sandier soils. Small communities of Laguncularia racemosa exist in the
Rhizophoretum but the factors governing their distribution are obscure. Giglioli and
Thornton concluded that in The Gambia Rhizophora racemosa pioneers colonisation
of virgin alluvia, where, in time, proliferation of its fibrous roots produces an
increasingly felt-like layer on the surface which both encourages and is increased by
the deposition of alluvium and leaf litter until a rising soil level leads to the death of
the Rhizophoretum. Avicennia replaces Rhizophora; its many pneumatophores
increase the rate of deposition of alluvium and the accretion of soil materials which is
further accelerated in these more open stands by windblown and colluvial silting. In
time the soil level is raised and becomes too acid to support vegetation during the dry
season and such areas become barren flats with a high accumulation of salt.

Not all areas of mangrove show the typical succession which has been described. In
places, shoreline erosion rather than accretion is taking place and man has interfered
by cutting mangroves for poles and fuelwood. Giglioli and Thornton (1965) have
described the following relations of erosion and accretion in the Gambian riverine
mangrove complex:

1. Accreting shore is typically low and backed by high Rhizophora; on limited

stretches of the bank of the main river it is indicated by high Avicennia
fronted by a thick forest of seedlings

2. Stable shoreline is indicated by high Rhizophora

3. Erosion, if incipient, is indicated by taller old Rhizophora while if it is long-

standing it will be shown by steep banks bordered by high Avicennia

Johnson (1975), after limited sampling of low mangrove of Avicennia and small
Rhizophora on theHower Gambia River, found that material as small as 2-3 cm (1 in)
diameter was cut for fuelwood and that stems were culled out as soon as they were
large enough for fuelwood. He concluded that fuelwood removal by man and the rate
of growth of the smaller mangroves appeared to be in equilibrium. Some larger stems
of /?. racemosa of 10 cm (4 in) diameter or larger had been cut close to the road at
Yelitenda and close to footpath access at Tendaba. However, evidence of large-scale
removal was not observed.

b- Barren flats

These areas are characterised by sparse vegetation and strongly acid, saline soils or
saline-alkali soils. They are most extensive in North Bank Division. The succulent
Sesuvium portulacastrum is the most characteristic plant of the more extreme
conditions; in more favourable situations, Sporobolus spicatus and the stiff hard-leaved
grasses, Paspalum vaginatum and Diplachne fusca, may occur. Species of Cyperaceae
and Juncaceae produce aerial shoots.


This category occurs in a variety of situations with variable cover. A tightly-grazed

sward, sometimes with scattered oilpalms or a sparse cover of grasses and forbs
including the hard, stiff foliage grasses, Paspalum vaginatum and Diplachne fusca.


This tall-growing community of Phragmites karka and Echinochloa pyramidalis is

common behind the mangrove communities in Lower River Division. Cyperus papyrus
occurs in The Gambia but is not widespread and has only been recorded in North Bank
Division. Woody plants are not present in this unit.


The middle and eastern end of the country have extensive floodplains with grasses of
variable heights between 65 and 165 cm (2-51/2 ft). Many of these areas are dominated
by one of a small number of grasses; in the most extreme condition one grass forms an
almost pure stand. Grasses include Anadelphia arrecta (A. afzeliana), Eragrostis
atrovirens, Panicum anabaptistum, Vetivera nigritana and around the edges of some
swamps Schizachyrium brevifolium and Paspalum spp. occur. Although most of these
floodplains are treeless, scattered low trees of Mitragyna inermis occur in some of the
middle river areas.



The vegetation of the wooded levees and alluvial areas close to the Gambia River
consists typically of woodland on the better-drained levees and scrub of Mitragyna
inermis, of shrub or small tree form, on the fringes of freshwater swamps and on mounds
within the swamps. The woodland on levees at Jakhali near Sapu in MacCarthy Island
Division was sampled by G Michael in 1973. His data (unpublished) from nine plots of
0.37 ha (0.9 ac) indicate that the levee woodland is characteristically of Pterocarpus
erinaceus, Terminalia spp.. Acacia sieberiana and other Acacia spp., Ficus spp., and
Khaya senegalensis trees. The last-named grow large to become pre-emergent. The palm
Borassus aethiopum is characteristic of these sites but has generally been depleted in
numbers by man. Common shrubs or small trees are Securidaca longipedunculata,
Combretum spp., Diospyros mespi/iformis, Ziziphus mauritiana, Pileostigma thonningii
and Acacia spp. Mitragyna inermis occurs in these woodlands but less abundantly than
on swamp fringes.


a. Parinari-Loudetia

South-east of Kartung (Western Division) there is a distinctive community of Parinari

macrophylla trees growing to a height of 4.5 m (15 ft) in a Loudetia simplex dominated

b. Borassus

North and south of Gunjur there are stands of Borassus aethiopum. Much of the area
is farmed and immature specimens are frequently damaged by man and by browsing

c. Dunes with stunted Adansonia

West of Kartung the dunes have a sparse cover of Aristida spp. Cenchrus biflorus,
Perotis patens and Eragrostis spp. with stunted baobab (Adansonia digitata) trees.

d. Low tree — tall grass

Near the coast between Brufut and Tujering there is a low tree canopy which includes
Parinari macrophylla with an understorey of tall grasses including Heteropogon
melanocarpa and Loudetia kagerensis.

Part 12
Agricultural significance of the
physical environment


The amount and distribution of the rainfall in The Gambia is a severe constraint on
the country's agriculture in non^irrigable areas.

There can be very marked differences in the rainfall pattern over very short distances
and data collected at one site are not applicable elsewhere. The relative shortage of
data and the complex rainfall situation make it impossible to predict optimum
planting dates or estimate closely the likely duration of the growing season.
Cultivation should therefore be carried out after the first rain and sowing should be
done once the soil is moist to about 5 cm (2 in).

Figures on radiation indicate that radiation levels are perfectly satisfactory for
12 months' crop production.

Temperatures in The Gambia may not always be optimal for maximum crop
production but other factors are more likely to be limiting. The low night temperatures
in November to February, however, are likely to check the growth of the present
irrigated rice cultivars.

The cooling of the soil during the wet season will cause some reduction in growth
rates with time so that late-planted crops will grow more slowly than early-planted
crops. This consideration, however, must be weighed against the possibility of tissue
damage in early-planted crops associated with short rainless periods early in the wet
season when the soil surface heats up excessively.

From the very limited data available on wind it would seem that windmill pumping
of water from wells is a possibility in some areas in The Gambia, although large water
storage tanks would be needed for continuity of supply as the winds are rather


The utilisation of the River Gambia as a source of irrigation water is a most important
aspect of the agricultural development of the country. Two interrelated factors limit
the potential of the River Gambia as a source of irrigation water, the low dry-season
flow and the intrusion of saline water for a considerable distance up this very flat

Extraction of freshwater for dry-season irrigation above the saline limit will cause the
salt water to move further upstream at a very approximate rate of 1 km (0.6 mi)/mon
for 1 m^/sec (35 cusecs) of continuous extraction (UNDP, 1974). The continuous
extraction of 1 m^/sec provides sufficient water to grow one crop of rice over an area
of about 600 ha (1 500 ac). A t present, irrigated rice occupies about 2 000 ha

(4 900 ac) with plans for expansion to 4 000 ha ( 9 8 0 0 ac) by 1980. This is likely
therefore to cause a change in the extent of saltwater intrusion. To utilise all the
potentially irrigable land, approximately 80 000 ha (200 000 ac), which will require
much greater abstraction of water, a system of controlling the advance of the salt
water would be essential. This could be done by storing water in the upper reaches
of the river with controlled release during the dry season or by the erection of a

The fertility of a soil is its ability to supply the nutrients and water which a crop
requires for its satisfactory development. A very large number of factors is involved
in the fertility of a soil and the interaction between the different factors is complex.
Relatively little is known about soil-crop interrelationships and what information
there is tends t o be qualitative rather than quantititive. It must also be emphasised
that management factors may completely override the effect of inherent characteristics.

In this section the practical significance of characteristics which are discussed elsewhere
in this report is considered. Only certain characteristics of known practical implication
are considered here; soil depth, soil moisture, soil strength, soil salinity, soil reaction,
soil nutrient status, and microtopopgraphy.

Soil depth

The depth of soil available for exploitation by the growing crop is an essential factor
in determining the amount of water and nutrients available to it. In The Gambia
effective rooting depth may be limited by the presence of a ironpan layer or a

Depth to ironpan

The very shallow soils (less than < 2 5 cm, 10 in) of Series 201 should be con-
sidered as severely limited by their depth to ironpan, and therefore Soil
Associations 8 and 9 which are dominated by these soils should be discounted for
agricultural development. The moderately shallow soils (25-74 cm, 10-29 in) of
Series 202 and 203 should still be considered as suffering limitations by virtue of
their depth for the growth of most crops. Four slightly shallow series (75-124 cm,
29-49 in) have been identified but it is unlikely that below a depth of 75 cm (29 in)
the presence of an ironpan layer is of any agricultural significance.

Depth to watertable

An effective barrier to downward root development is formed by the watertable.

Except for a few specially adapted plants such as rice and some grasses, plant roots
cannot penetrate the watertable very far because of lack of oxygen. Even for those
specially adapted plants it is usually essential for the soil to dry out for a short period
at regular intervals so that totally anaerobic conditions do not persist.

It should be emphasised that a prerequisite of any proposed development would be

a study of the watertable fluctuations in the alluvial soils and an investigation into
the sources of flood water such as runoff from higher lying ground, flooding from
the river and rising ground watertable.

Most of the alluvial areas west of approximately 15° (about level with Kudang)
are seasonally waterlogged and much of the area is flooded throughout the year, at
least during high tides. The water regime of these areas, however, is additionally
complicated by the influence of the saline intrusion and this will be considered
further in the discussions on the limitations imposed by salinity and soil reaction.
Throughout Soil Associations 14, 15 and 16, high watertable or flooding is liable
to be one of the factors limiting the growth of most crops.

East of approximately 15° the alluvial areas can be divided into those which appear
to be subject to seasonal inundation and characteristically support a grassland
vegetation, and those which are rarely if ever flooded and characteristically support a
shrub or woodland vegetation. The former areas are largely mapped as Soil
Associations 17, 18 and 21 and the latter as Associations 19, 20 and 22.

The constituent soil series of Associations 17, 18 and 21 are dominantly those showing
strong reducing conditions and although some series are common t o more than one
association it is proposed that the mode and extent of inundation in these areas
differs. Soil Association 17 occupies the low-lying areas subject to flooding with
small rises in river level. While the area mapped as Soil Association 18 is not necessarily
of greater height above mean sea level,it is separated from the river and its tributaries
by the high-lying terraces,and flooding from the river takes place only through well
defined channels. Soil Association 21 represents areas which are cut off from the
river and which therefore are not normally flooded from or drained by the river. It is
assumed that much of the flooding is from runoff water from the higher ground
though nothing is known about the fluctuations of the groundwatertable nor about
the duration of the flooding. Local knowledge indicates that the flooding in these
areas may be quite deep and is very erratic. Natural drainage in these areas is poor
and there are, characteristically,pond-likedepressionswhich in some cases seem to
retain water throughout the year.

Soil moisture

The inability of the soil to provide the growing crop with sufficient moisture over a
long enough period of time can be a severe limitation to potential production. With
the exception of some of the alluvial soils, the moisture which the soil provides comes
from surface infiltration since there is no source of subsurface water. The soil therefore
should be able to accept and retain the maximum amount of rainfall or runoff water
and subsequently be able to release it to the plants. Because rainfall is concentrated
into a relatively short season and, moreover, much of it falls as short intense storms,
water loss by runoff is a serious problem.

It was shown in Part 9 that the rate of infiltration of all the soils was much less than
the rate of rainfall and that losses of water due t o runoff were considerable. This was
most marked in the plateau soils but is still a serious problem in the soils of the
colluvial slopes. Drainage within the soils is generally good and is more rapid on the
colluvial slope than in the plateau soils. A major aim of soil management should be
to maximise infiltration of the rain water.

The available water content of the second metre of soil has been shown to be similar
to that of the first metre but it is generally not exploited by the annual crops. There
is ample evidence that all the annual crops are capable of deep rooting and the fact
that they generally fail to penetrate to more than 50—75 cm (20-30 in) is due to the
high bulk density of the soils. Little can be done t o alleviate this condition. It is
possible, however, that increased vigour in plant growth which might be brought
about by improving the nutrient status of the soils might increase root penetration.

Soil strength

Soil strength (resistance to deformation) is related to bulk density, moisture content

and the action of cementing agents. In discussing the bulk density of the soils of the
Continental Terminal (Part 8) it was pointed out that nearly all of these are* of high
bulk density, so that the soils are difficult to cultivate when dry and root penetration
is severely restricted. In soils without coarse-textured surface horizons, which normally
occur on the plateau, the problem of cultivation is particularly great. It would be
advisable to undertake the ploughing of fallow plateau soils towards the end of the
wet season in preparation for cropping in the following season. The very fine-textured
soils of the alluvial areas are impossible to cultivate in the dry condition without
mechanisation and would normally need to be well wetted before cultivation. Little
can be done about poor penetrability of these soils but improving their nutrient status
may increase the rooting ability of most crops.

Soil salinity

Inundation by saline water leads to saline soil in much of the alluvial area lying west
of approximately 1 5 ° . These saline soils are mapped in Associations 14, 15 and 16.
The degree of salinity varies seasonally, the level of salts being greatly reduced with
the onset of the rains. Many areas which are highly saline during the dry season are
used for rice-growing once the rains have flushed out the salt. The non-saline season
is very short, however, and in years of low rainfall is inadequate for the growth
of the rice crop.

Soil reaction

Most of the sous of the Continental Terminal have a sou reaction between pH 5.8
and 6.4 (in water) in surface horizons overlying subsoils of pH 5.0-6.0. In the pH
range usually encountered within the normal root feeding zone, microelements are
likely to be relatively available. It should be noted that molybdenum is likely to
become unavailable below a pH of about 6.0, and most other microelements above
a pH 7.0 (Hanna and Hutcheson, 1968).

Work on the use of ground limestone as a soil ameliorant has been very limited in
The Gambia. Ashrif (1963), following a three-year study, noted that an application
of 4.5 t/ha (1.9 lgt/ac) raised soil pH for some time in the season of application but
did not increase the yield of groundnut pods and hay. Except in the alluvial areas,
it is expected that liming will prove to be necessary for only the most acid-sensitive
crops, such as certain vegetables and legumes.

Within the alluvial soils a wide range of soil reaction conditions are encountered. The
major soil reaction problem arises in those soils which are or have been subject to
inundation by saline water. In Part 8 it was described how the accumulation of sulphur
from saline water in the presence of organic material,notably that associated with a
Rhizophora vegetation, is likely t o lead to conditions of extreme acidity. Thus,
through much of the area mapped in Soil Associations 14, 15 and. 16 there are soils ,
of pH less than 4.5 or with the potential to develop such an acid reaction if allowed
to dry out.

Throughout most of the remaining alluvial soils, pH does not present any major
problem. In Series 310, 311 and 314, however, which are important constituents of
Soil Associations 18 and 20, alkaline conditions are encountered. Although pH levels
of over 8.0 have been recorded in these soils, such a reaction generally occurs only
below the normal root-feeding zone. The possibility of micronutrient deficiencies
does exist however, and careful observation should be made for symptoms of these.

In a number of examples of Soil Series 306 a pH of surface horizons below 5.5 has
been recorded and may indicate ä problem although the pH probably rises when the
soil floods.

Nutrient status

Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium,calcium, magnesium and sulphur are the elements

which the plant needs in the largest quantities. A number of other elements, the
micronutrients, are required in only very small quantities. The status of the essential
plant nutrients is considered below.

Nitrogen (N)

In the soils of the Continental Terminal the nitrogen reserves, being related to the
organic matter content, are extremely low; total nitrogen, even in surface horizons,
does not usually exceed 0.04%.

Although critical economic studies have not been undertaken, fertiliser experiments
on the major upland cereals (millet, sorghum and rice) have demonstrated increased
yields of grain in response to application of nitrogen even with traditional cultivars

and applications of 25-50 kg/ha (22-45 Ib/ac) are recommended. It is believed that
the improved cultivars of sorghum would give economic responses to dressings of at
least 50 kg/ha (45 Ib/ac) N. Of the other major upland crops, groundnuts are believed
to be adequately supplied by the natural nodulation of the plant but cotton is
thought to require N fertiliser (25 kg/ha, 22 Ib/ac) for optimum yields.

As would be expected, the greatest response to N fertiliser has been shown by improved
irrigated rice cultivars; the commonly grown cultivar Taichung Native no. 1 appears
to give economic increases in yield in the dry season to applications of 60-80 kg/ha
(53-71 Ib/ac) N. There may be variations in response related to soil series but more
work is heeded to confirm this and the implication of any NP interaction.

Phosphorus (P)

In the soils of the Continental Terminal phosphorus levels, as measured by the method
of Bray, are always below the level normally considered adequate for reasonable crop
growth. Thornton (1964) reported that total uptake and percentage recovery of
fertiliser P were very low. The trial reported by Thornton covers only a single crop,
and ignored possible residual effects on subsequent crops. These trials did indicate a
response to P in terms of the uptake of other nutrients which is attributed to increased
root development in the early stages of growth.

Field trials have shown that the yield of all major crops of The Gambia can be
increased by the application of phosphatic fertiliser; these crops include groundnuts,
cotton, millet, sorghum and rice. A considerable number of experiments on groundnuts
has led to the recommendation to apply 112 kg/ha (100 Ib/ac) of single superphosphate
of which the phosphate element (9.3 kg/ha P) is believed to be the most important. In
a series of 16 experiments laid down between 1961 and 1970 this application increased
yields of pods over the no fertiliser treatment by 8-57% (222-850 kg/ha, 198-
759 Ib/ac). There are no quantitative data available on the residual effect of P
application although improved crop growth of groundnuts and cereals following cotton
has been attributed to this cause.

The need for additional P in these soils seems indisputable but fixation of soluble
phosphate fertilisers may greatly reduce the value of these. Rock phosphate should be
considered as an alternative phosphate source. Jones (1973), in a review of the use of
rock phosphate as fertiliser in francophone West Africa,concludes that rock phosphates
are most effective when applied as basal fertilisers under a rainfall regime in excess of
800 mm (31.5 in) per annum. Although very good responses were obtained in areas of
severe phosphate deficiency, on an equal P-content basis it was found that rock
phosphates were rarely as efficient as soluble manufactured materials especially when
used as annual fertilisers. However, high rates of rock phosphate may yield as well as
lower rates of soluble materials and also give a greater long-term residual effect. Thus
their usefulness depends very much on their price relative to that of soluble forms and
on the willingness of farmers to use phosphate fertilisers as a long-term investment.

The phosphate status of the alluvial soils is complicated. In those soils which include an
horizon of alkaline reaction within the profil&an alkaline extraction has been used and
available phosphate levels are recorded as extremely low, frequently zero. Where Bray's
extraction has been used, however, available P, at least in surface horizons, is usually at
a medium or even high level (>7 ppm). Only field trials over a wide range of alluvial
soils will resolve the question of phosphate response in these soils.

Response to P fertilisation from improved cultivars of irrigated rice has often been
recorded but the quantity required appears to be small (up to 30 kg/ha,27 Ib/ac P).
Some soil series, e.g. Series 306, may show a greater response than others but this
requires confirmation.

Phosphate fixation should not be a serious constraint in the alluvial soils and choice of
phosphate source should be governed by price per unit of phosphorus although trials
on alternative sources of phosphate should be conducted on irrigated rice.

Potassium (K)

Potassium levels of all the soils of The Gambia are low but despite this there may be
little response to applied potassium under the present levels of productivity. Thornton
(1964) showed that although K uptake by the plant was increased by the addition of
K fertiliser this probably constituted luxury consumption.

Ahn (1970) in summarising the state of knowledge on response to K in West African

soils proposes that it is not the actual amount of exchangeable K in the system which
is important to the crop, but the proportion of the soil's cation exchange capacity
which is occupied by exchangeable K ions. It is suggested that a K saturation level of
2% or over is normally satisfactory for crop growth. This level is exceeded in all the
soils of the Continental Terminai, and in most of the aiiuviai sous.

This is confirmed by the results of a number of fertiliser experiments conducted over

the years which have failed t o indicate any response in terms of increased yields t o
potassic fertilisation on either upland or irrigated crops. The only exception to this was
with groundnuts on an atypical soil (Marenah and Hancock 1974). On cotton however
foliar symptoms of K deficiency have been noted and an increase in the weight of the
plant framework was recorded in 1972 from the use of potassic fertiliser; even so, 12
experiments laid down on a total of eight soil series in 1972 and 1973 failed to show any
yield response to potassic fertiliser. Experiments laid down by the Taiwan rice mission
and by LRD demonstrated no response to additional K by irrigated rice. However as
cropping becomes more intensive and productivity increases, exchangeable soil K may
become exhausted and response to K fertiliser may increase in some crops, particularly
if the use of ammonia-based nitrogen fertiliser increases.

Calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg)

Although both calcium and magnesium are present at only very low levels in the soils
of the Continental Terminal it is likely that they are adequate to fulfil the small
requirements of most crops. In discussing the levels of exchangeable bases (Part 8),
it was pointed out that in some cases the level of magnesium exceeded that of calcium
which could lead to problems of induced calcium deficiency but this normally occurs
only in deep horizons and is not likely to be of practical significance. Where artificial
fertiliser is used, increased levels of potassium, and ammonium nitrogen may induce
calcium and magnesium deficiency.

The application of calcium has been shown in some circumstances to increase the
shelling percentage of groundnuts but not the yield of pods or hay. Its use as a
fertiliser cannot presently be foreseen. Foliar symptoms of a possible magnesium
deficiency have been recorded on cotton in both Western and Upper River Divisions
in limited areas. If this deficiency is confirmed it can be easily remedied.

In the alluvial soils not affected by saline waters, calcium and magnesium are always by
far the predominant cations and are present at perfectly adequate levels. In the saline
soils both calcium and magnesium are present at levels which would normally be
considered as adequate, and magnesium is frequently the predominant cation on the
exchange complex of these soils. The high levels of exchangeable sodium, however, may
lead to toxicity problems which override other considerations.

Sulphur (S)

Sulphur deficiencies are known to be widespread in the savanna areas of West Africa
and both cotton and groundnuts have a high demand for sulphur and are likely to be
limited in growth by low sulphur levels. No measurements of sulphur levels were made
during this study though a few estimations of sulphate fixation suggested that the
latter would not present a serious constraint. A t present there is no indication that
sulphur is seriously deficient in The Gambia.

Trials specifically on sulphur and others comparing single and triple superphosphates
have failed to show any response to sulphur by groundnuts. Although foliar symptoms
of possible sulphur deficiency in cotton were noted in 1972 no yield effect was
recorded. As a precaution, however, single superphosphate rather than other forms of
phosphatic fertiliser is recommended for these two susceptible crops.


No measurement of trace elements was made. It was pointed out above that a t the pH
levels of the soils of the Continental Terminal, availability should not be a problem
except in the case of molybdenum. With increased yields it is possible that trace
element deficiencies may show up and again it can only be recommended that care be
taken to watch for any deficiency symptoms. It should be noted that molybdenum is
needed by Rhizobium bacteria for nitrogen fixation and in view of its expected
deficiency in acid soils it may be worth incorporating traces of molybdenum in any
groundnut fertilisers.

Field experiments in the area on the use of trace elements have been very few. In
trials at Yundum over three seasons (1971-3) Marenah and Hancock (1974) obtained
indications of marginally reduced yields of groundnuts from the use of molybedenum;
no response was recorded to boron. In Upper River Division very mild foliar symptoms
of a possible boron deficiency have been recorded on a few occasions. Foliar symptoms
of an apparent zinc deficiency were recorded in Western Division in 1959/60.


In some of the alluvial areas particularly within Map Associations 17 and 18 there have
developed areas of pronounced microrelief with steep-sided mounds and hollows of about
30 cm (12 in) amplitude. Even at the more detailed scale of the alluvial areas survey
it was not possible to plot the distribution of these. Sometimes they are quite extensive
areas and before such land could be brought into production mechanical levelling would
be required.

Part 13
Agricultural production, practices and
land use

This Part comprises five sections: crops, forestry, livestock, wildlife, current and
potential land use. In the case of the crops, forestry and livestock sections, statistics
of production are reviewed and details are given of current practices, productivity and
problems. In the fifth section, the present and potential land use of the various groups
of soil associations are discussed: the soil suitability groups described there relate
directly to the recommendations for agricultural development made in Part 21.


The first comprehensive survey of agricultural production in The Gambia was under-
taken in 1973 when a national sample survey was carried out with technical assistance
from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations. This
survey was a preliminary to a larger and more detailed sample survey in 1974.

These surveys were designed to cover the 75% of the population who lived in the
rural areas of the country. Samples were obtained by dividing the whole of The
Gambia, excluding urban and sub-urban areas, into 64 groupings of the enumeration
areas used in the 1973 population census so that each grouping had a population of
approximately 5 500. Within each grouping, two enumeration areas were drawn, the
chances of selection of any given enumeration area being proportional t o its population.
The first drawn enumeration area in any grouping was named as Priority 1 and the
second as Priority 2. Within each of these, farming units (dabada) were selected at
random for the samples.

Six hundred and twenty farming units (dabadas) were enumerated in 1973 and 2 284
in 1974. In both years it was found that 95-96% of units grew groundnuts. The area
of different crops grown per unit is recorded in Table 22.

TABLE 22 Area of crop per sampled farming unit

1973 1974
ha ac ha ac

Groundnut 2.6 6.5 3.2 8.0

Millet (major crop) 1.0 2.5 1.0 2.6
Rice, rainfed alluvial areas 0.8 2.0
0.9 2.3
Rice, upland 0.6 1.5
Sorghum (major crop) 1.0 2.5 1.0 2.4

The total mean area per farming unit cultivated with these crops was
4.1 ha (10.2 ac) in 1973; the figure for 1974 is not available.

The figures for millet and sorghum in Table 22 refer only t o those areas where these
cereals are the major crop. They therefore exclude those areas where they are planted
as the minor crop with groundnuts. It was estimated in 1973 that 54% of the ground-
nut area was so cultivated and that such cultivation contributed approximately 40%
and 60% additional production for millet and sorghum respectively.

The estimates of areas, yields and production of the major crops in 1973 and 1974
are shown in Table 23.

The major food import is hulled rice; in each of the three years from 1971/72 t o
1973/74 these imports averaged 19 300 t (17 500 Igt).

TABLE 23 Areas, yields and production of the major crops in 1973 and 1974 (The
Gambia, Central Statistics Division, 1974; 1975)

Area Yield Total production

ha (ac) kg/ha (Ib/ac) t (Igt)
1973 1974 1973 1974 1973 1974

Groundnuts 73 6 5 0 97 930 1 510 1 422 111 4 4 0 139 290

(oilseed) (182 000) (242 000) (1 350) (1 269) (109 700) (137 100)

n.a. 6 475 n.a. 1 767 n.a. 11 4 5 0

(n.a.) ( 1 6 000) (n.a.) (1 578) (n.a.) ( 11 270)

n.a. 10115 n.a. 1 200 n.a. 12 165

Millet (early)
(n.a.) (25 000) (n.a.) (1 073) (n.a.) ( 11 975)

n.a. 16 590 710 720 n.a. 11 9 7 5

Millet (late)
(n.a.) (41 000) (635) (644) (n.a.) ( 11 785)

Rice* 16910 2 0 235 1 230 1 175 20 8 5 0 23 8 1 0

(rainfed) 41 8 0 0 ) 5 0 000) (1 100) (1 050) ( 20 530) ( 23 435)

Sorghum 13 7 6 0 11 730 706 759 9 710 8 905

(34 000) ( 2 9 000) (630) (677) ( 9 560) ( 8 765)

* In 1974 the area under hungry rice (Digitaria exilis) not listed here was estimated to be
3 8 8 5 ha (9 6 0 0 ac) with a mean yield of 5 3 0 kg/ha (473 Ib/ac).


Crop production in The Gambia is undertaken entirely by individual farm families;

there are no estates, land settlement schemes or cooperative farms. Although cattle
may be owned by the farming compounds it is common for these animals t o be
herded by full time 'shepherds' and the integration of crops and livestock production
is very limited.

The use of irrigation in crop production has been successfully introduced in recent
years for rice and, to a limited extent, vegetables; the rice production is largely in
the east of the country above the salinity limit of the main river. The total area
developed for irrigated rice is in the region of 2 000 ha (5 000 ac). There is no
perennial crop of any major economic importance, so that most crop production
is confined to the period of the rainy season (June — October) and the subsequent
1-2 months. The upland crops are produced on the plateau and colluvial soils?
Areas close to the village are often essentially under annual cultivation while those
more distant are cropped on a bush-fallow system, the resting period being
tumbledown fallow.Outside Government stations there is no sown pasture or fodder
area. Alluvial areas, where salinity and soil reaction are within acceptable limits,
are used for rice and for dry-season grazing of cattle. Small areas within or near
the compound are often used for fruit and vegetable production. The spatial
distribution of a family's cropping area forms a mosaic based on their usufruct
rights. In the areas close t o the village the crops are commonly grown as pure
stands; elsewhere intercropping is common and mixed cropping sometimes
practised. No information is available to compare intercropping with pure-stand

cropping with regard to overall production per unit area, profitability, return per
man hour and risk avoidance.

Cultivation methods and equipment

After a number of earlier unsuccessful attempts, an extension programme to introduce

ox-drawn implements was started in 1955. The object of this was to replace the
traditional methods of hand cultivation by oxenisation and thus not only speed up
operations but also increase the area that could be cultivated. The response to the
programme was good but implementation was handicapped by the problem of
identifying equipment which would meet the following criteria:

1. Carry out all the cultivation operations — (land preparation, seeding

arid weeding) for groundnuts, cereals and cotton and, for groundnuts

2. Be light enough in draught for N'Dama oxen

3. Be readily available, with spares, at an economic price

Because of this problem, the major impact of the programme has been confined to
the introduction of implements for land preparation (ploughs, ridgers and
cultivators) and carts. Since 1973, though, a growing number of seeders and
weeders have been employed, possibly stimulated by the availability of cheap
machines and ponies and donkeys from Senegal. It is estimated that 10-15% of
all compounds now use oxen and the benefits of this will extend over further
compounds on whose land work is done on contract. The remaining area of upland
crops and much of the rainfed rice is cultivated by hand and practically all weeding
and harvesting is done by hand. The proposed extension of the availability of credit
for the purchase of oxen and implements and the recent identification of an
appropriate range of implements (Matthews and Pullen, 1975) should further extend
the practice of oxenisation. The cost of a set of implements for groundnut and upland
cereal cultivation comprising a cultivator (including weeder and lifter), plough and
seeder was D273.75 in March 1975. For cotton a ridger (D42) would also be needed.
A pair of oxen would cost D400. Such expenditure without credit facilities is
beyond the means of the majority of farmers.

A tractor ploughing scheme has been in operation since the mid-1950s. This is now
largely confined to MacCarthy Island Division and carries out preplanting cultivation
(ploughing and harrowing) for rainfed rice on alluvial areas. In recent years some
2 000 ha (5 000 ac) have been cultivated annually although in 1974 the figure fell to
1 540 ha (3 800 ac). The only other major area of mechanisation is the contracting
of pedestrian tractors for land cultivation on the rice schemes established by the
Taiwan rice mission; the total area so prepared annually prior to 1974 is not known
but would probably not have exceeded 2 000 ha (5 000 ac) for the two crops. In 1974
the service was taken over by the Department of Agriculture who cultivated 480 ha
(1 188 ac) that year using 46 machines. There are also six or seven private tractors in
the east of the country.


Upland crops are grown both on the flat and on ridges and the reason for the farmer's
choice between the two is not clear. It has been argued in favour of ridges that:

1. Land cultivation is quicker because only half the areas (the furrows)
has to be worked

2. The topsoii, ashes and organic matter are concentrated around the
root of the young plant

3. They improve the drainage round young plants following heavy


• ^^Wß'^g^ä

PLATE 7 Crop production: an area of traditional rainfed rice

PLATE 8 Crop p r o d u c t i o n : land preparation by a women'sKafo

4. Early weeding is made easier

5. Groundnuts are easier to lift from ridges

6. Contour ridging can prevent waterlogging and erosion

7. In poorly drained areas ridges improve aeration and drainage

Arguments against the use of ridges include the following:

1. With sporadic rain at the start of the season the ridge may dry out and
the young plant be dessicated

2. With the sandy topsoiis of the colluvial slopes, ridges are liable to
erosion (particularly after weeding) which is both undesirable in itself
and leads to the exposure of the plant's root system

3. Water will concentrate in the furrows and cause serious erosion unless
the ridge runs along the contour and is tied

4. Ridging results in an undesirable increase in the temperature of the soil

in the rooting zone of the young plant

5. The water-holding capacity of a soil is reduced by ridging

For most Gambian soils, planting on the flat is recommended. The exceptions t o this
would be poorly drained, heavy soils and the steeper slopes where contour ridging
could be beneficial.


Gambian farmers for generations have been notably responsive to market prices. The
relative areas planted to groundnuts (the only major cash crop) and to subsistence
cereals have been largely affected by the price of groundnuts and the availability and
relative price of cereals. The need for rotation of crops including a rest period on the
plateau and colluvial soils is recognised. (There is no rotation of crops on the alluvial
areas which are used only for rice).

The common rotation is basically an alternation of groundnuts and cereals. Near villages
this may be almost continuous, elsewhere, when cattle are not tethered in the dry
season, fallow periods are introduced.

Rotating groundnuts with other crops in The Gambia has some specific benefits: it
reduces the incidence of rosette disease and counters the effects of successive crops of
groundnuts which cause accelerated breakdown of the soil structure with a consequent
decrease in permeability and increase in runoff and erosion. Although there is some
evidence from Senegal that two successive crops of cotton may be beneficial, the
introduction of other crops becomes desirable thereafter to prevent the buildup of
soil-borne wilts and nematodes. For sorghum, rotations are needed to reduce the
build-up of the weed Striga. The Department of Agriculture recommends the following
rotation: groundnuts or cotton/cereal (sorghum, millet or maize)/groundnut/fallow. The
length of fallow required has not been established in The Gambia, but on ferruginous
soils at Darou, Senegal it was shown over a period of 20 years that a rotation of
groundnuts/Cereals/groundnuts/fallow/fallow was satisfactory in maintaining soil
fertility. This was confirmed in wider-scale trials in south Senegal over a period of
15 years. It is thought that a single year's fallow could be adequate if combined with
deep ploughing (20-25 cm, 8-10 in), together with use of fertilisers, organic manures
and green manures.


The use of household waste and sheep and goat manure on rice fields, though not
widespread, is a long-established practice. So also is the tethering of cattle at night
during the dry season for spells of 3-10 days on areas intended for crop production.
These areas are thereby heavily dunged, but the manure is not worked into the soil
and therefore loss of nutrients by oxidation must be heavy. Further, prior to planting
the crop, the manure is often heaped and burned in the belief that this will reduce
weed incidence. In spite of this, the practice is clearly beneficial, although the
specific advantages gained (possibly in improved nutrition, moisture-holding capacity,
infiltrability or in soil structure) have not been identified.


Only a small minority of farmers use artificial fertilisers. Single superphosphate is

recommended for groundnuts and the price is heavily subsidised (1974/5 sale price is
D5.30 against a landed cost of D17.85 per 50 kg (110 lb) bag); the major users of this
are farmers participating in the package deal programmes of the Department of
Agriculture. Nitrogenous and phosphatic fertilisers are recommended for cotton and
all growers (who are participants in a cotton development programme) are issued with
these and the cost is recouped by adjustment of the purchase price of the seed cotton.
An NP fertiliser (20%N : 4%P) is recommended for irrigated rice and its price is also
heavily subsidised (1974/5 sale price D6.70 per 50 kg bag against a landed cost of
D26.50). This fertiliser is used both as a basal application and topdressing. For the
basal application of phosphorus, rock phosphate might be as effective and cheaper.
For topdressing, nitrogen alone might be sufficient, in which case urea might be more
appropriate, although the relative cost per unit of nitrogen from the different sources
must be considered. For the small extension scheme on cassava in Western Division a
compound NPKMg fertiliser with a formulation of 12 : 5.2 : 14 : 1.2 was recommended
and issued to participants.


Because of heavy labour demands at that season the weeding of groundnuts and cereals
in their early stages of growth is often delayed to the extent that crop yields are
reduced. Handweeding is now universal but oxdrawn implements are beginning to be
adopted and could be of great benefit. Striga spp. are common parasites on sorghum
and millet: little action is currently taken against them. While information on resultant
losses is not available it would probably be worth while to introduce spot spraying
against these weeds. Experiments are in progress on the use of herbicides in irrigated

Seed multiplication

The need to make available to farmers good seed of the staple crops has been recognised
for at least 100 years by the Government of The Gambia and, since its inception 50
years ago, the Department of Agriculture has accepted that the production of such
seed is one of its functions (Brooks 1924)- Work in this field tended to be sporadic and
limited however until 1972 when a seed-multiplication officer was appointed. He was
charged with the responsibility for the seed-multiplication programmes for oilseed
groundnuts (cultivar Senegal 28-206) and cotton, the control of the stock of rice seed
produced by the agronomy division and the coordination of the village seed store

For oilseed groundnuts, an eventual target has been set to produce annually sufficient
seed for 20% of the nation's groundnut area: with current practices this seed programme
will occupy some 2% of the total area of groundnuts. Work on the village seed stores
will continue concurrently with this. The first of these stores was built in the late 1950s
and the objective was to encourage farmers to select their seed nuts, treat them with
insecticide and then place them in a locked store during the period of the dry season:
thus the seed would be protected from pests, fire, theft and indeed consumption or
sale by the owner. By 1975 there were 409 such stores which were estimated to be
capable of holding 70-75% of the national seed requirements (Pickering, 1975).
The Department's scheme did not cover HPS nuts (hand picked selected nuts of the
oilseed cultivar GOMB used for confectionery purposes) nor those of the two
confectionery cultivars, Philippine Pink and Georgia hybrid GA 119-20.

The present cotton cultivar, BJA592,was generally adopted in 1973. The programme
for cotton seed envisages annual importation of nucleus stock which will be bulked
up for 3 years before being issued to all participants in the cotton development

Up to 1975 no seed of upland cereals (millet, sorghum, Digitaria) was produced for
general distribution to farmers.

An FAO report in 1974 noted that there were no facilities for drying, cleaning,
grading or treating seed, and there was no seed-testing laboratory, emergency seed-
reserve stock orseed registration.Subsequently aid was sought for the establishment
of adequate drying, storage and transport facilities and for a small quality-control

Soil and water conservation

No active measures are taken by farmers to conserve soil or water. Because of the
subdued relief, soil erosion is not currently a serious problem but the situation is
deteriorating. Jones (1976) stated that this was due to the increasing population
using incorrect methods of crop and animal husbandry and exploiting the woodland
resources. Crop cultivation is usually carried out up and down the slope to ease working
and to permit quicker runoff following heavy showers; the consequence is increased
sheet erosion and a reduction in the infiltration rates. Cultivation of natural drainage
depressions is also common. Gully erosion, particularly in Upper River and North
Bank Divisions, is largely caused by emptying the water from the ridges from cross-
slope cultivation intofarm roads and paths running downslope. The present practice
of unregulated cattle grazing aggravates erosion in some areas, due to selective intensive
grazing. This, combined with trampling and trailing, results in the surface soil becoming
exposed and compacted, giving a reduced infiltration rate and resistance to sheet flow
so that runoff increases and sheet and gully erosion follow. Indiscriminate burning has
damaged the plant cover and thus led to an increase in the erosion hazard.

These problems have been recognised by Government and a soil and water conservation
unit was established in 1975.


The major cereals grown in The Gambia are bulrush millet, rice and sorghum; maize and
hungry rice are produced on a small scale. The distribution of rice cultivation is discussed
in the section on that crop. The area under millet and sorghum in 1974 was estimated
to be 26 705 ha (66 000 ac) and 11 730 ha (29 000 ac) respectivejy^ excluding areas of
mixed cropping where the cereal was the minor crop. Although both species are found
in all areas, millet tends to be dominant in the western half of the country and sorghum
in the eastern. The two are probably considered complementary in some degree.
Millet can be grown on poor, sandy soil if it is welldrained and will thrive with a lower
total rainfall than sorghum, subject to the rain being adequately distributed to ensure
available soil moisture in the rooting zone during the growth of the crop. Millet will
also tolerate a degree of salinity. Sorghum, probably because of its good rooting system
and effective internal control of transpiration (Salter and Goode, 1967), will tolerate
periods of drought and withstand temporary waterlogging.

Bulrush millet (Pennisetum typhoides)

Millet, like sorghum, is mainly grown as a pure stand on land near the village which has
been manured by tethered cattle in the previous dry season or in mixed cropping, usually
with groundnuts, in areas more distant from the compound. The Department of
Agriculture recommends the planting of early maturing millets in dry soil before the


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onset of the rains and of late millet in wet soil. In practice both are usually planted
following the onset of the rains. As the cereal crop follows groundnuts or cotton
in the rotation land cultivation can be very limited, although ploughing and harrowing
are recommended for the late millets.


The local races and cultivars have not been described and classified. They are broadly
divided according to their period to maturity into early forms (95 days), souna, and
late forms (up to 150 days), sanio.Souna millets are day-neutral and are possibly more
responsive to fertilisers (Etasse, 1970). The sanios are photosensitive, have a higher
straw: grain ration (5-7:1) but a higher potential yield (2 800 kg/ha: 2 500 Ib/ac
compared with 1 790 kg/ha (1 600 Ib/ac)). The Department of Agriculture have
estimated that mean yields are currently 450-560 kg/ha (400-500 Ib/ac) but that
improved husbandry, including better land preparation, seed selection and dressing,
correct plant population, planting, weeding and fertilising could increase this to
1 100 kg/ha (1 000 Ib/ac). The Gambia participates in the regional joint project
OAU/STRC JP 26, on millet improvement, but this has so far failed to identify any
suitable improved cultivar. In Senegal, the tall millets proved difficult to improve;
although more regular heads and uniform maturation were achieved, yield increases
were only of the order of 5-10%. The breeding of dwarf millets, crossing dwarf
American forage millets with souna selections seems more promising and may be
beneficial also to The Gambia.


A limited number of experiments carried out over the last 10 years have demonstrated
a response to organic manures on continually cultivated areas and indicated responses
to phosphorus at 9 kg/ha (8 Ib/ac) and also to nitrogen at 26 kg/ha (23 Ib/ac). Optimum
economic levels for specific conditions have yet to be established.

Pests and diseases

The economic consequences of pest and disease attack have not been ascertained
although the benefits from seed dressing have been demonstrated (The Gambia Dept.
of Agriculture, Yundum A. Rep. 1961/2). Awnless cultivars are very susceptible to
bird damage which can be very serious. Of the recorded pests, midge (Cecidomyia
penniseti) and the stemborers (Sesamia cretica and Busseola fusca) are the major ones.
Armyworm (Laphygma (Spodoptera) exempta), hairy caterpillar (Amsacta moloneyi)
and shoot fly (Atherigona quadripunctata) also attack millet. Recorded diseases are the
downy mildew, green ear disease (Sclerospora graminicola), leaf spot (Pyricularia
grisea), rust (Puccinnia penniseti), smut (Tolyposporium penicillariae) and sugary
disease (Sphacelia sp.).

Hungry rice, Findo (Digitaria exi/is)

Hungry rice is widely grown but individual plots are small and little information is
available on the total area harvested and on yields. In 1974 the mean yield was
estimated to be 530 kg/ha (473 Ib/ac) from 3 885 ha (9 600 ac). Gamble (1955)
has recorded the names of a number of cultivars recognised locally but these have not
been described. The crop is commonly sown broadcast before or soon after the onset
of the rains on land which had little or no preliminary cultivation; subsequently there
is seldom any weeding or attention to the crop until harvesting in September. It then
usefully augments depleted food supplies. Purseglove (1972) reports that yields in the
West African region vary from 600 to 800 kg/ha (520-710 Ib/ac) and may reach
1 000 kg/ha (890 Ib/ac). The straw can be a useful fodder.

Maize (Zea mays)

Maize is widely grown as a compound crop throughout The Gambia; in parts of Wuli
district it is also planted as a field crop. Miracle (1966) rated it as of modest importance
and estimated that it supplied 101-327 calories per caput per day, but its real value

lies in its being the first of the cereals to be harvested (August/September); it thus
meets a need at a time of year when food supplies are liable to be short. In 1973 a
scheme was started to produce maize for poultry feed in mixed vegetable schemes;
it produced 5.2 t (5 Igt) for this purpose. The 1974 target was 61 ha (150 ac)but the
crop had not been purchased by March 1975. A price of D199/t (D202/lgt) is paid
for shelled maize (kernels). The expansion of the scheme will depend on the relative
attraction of the crop as a food or as a source of cash at this critical season.


Up to the present time only traditional cultivars have been grown. These have a
maturation period of 90-100 days and are believed to yield 560-670 kg/ha (500-
600 Ib/ac), but are capable of producing up to 1 680 kg/ha (1 500 Ib/ac) with improved
husbandry. Although The Gambia has participated in the West African Uniform Maize
Trials since 1968, these have so far failed to identify cultivars superior to the local
Jeka. This has been attributed to the reduced rainfall of recent years (Hancock 1974).
In neighbouring areas of Senegal, increased yields have been reported from the use of
BDS (Blanche de Sefa) which was produced by crossing various double hybrids with
improved strains of the local ZM 10; this line of improvement has now been abandoned
(Dumont, 1973). In The Gambia the cultivar gave promising yields but was rejected
because it was a hybrid and had a white grain. The Nigerian composites NCB and
NCB x NCA appear to have promise.


Fertiliser trials have been limited but have indicated responses to nitrogen and
phosphorus for both traditional and improved cultivars. Cattle manure at 12-15 t/ha
(5-6 lgt/ac) is also recommended.

Pests and diseases

Two diseases have proved to be serious in limited areas in some years; these are rust
(Puccinia polysora) and leaf blight (Helminthosporium maydis). Other diseases
recorded are smut (Ustilago maydis), leaf spot (Physoderma sp.) and a suspected
virus disease. Pests include armyworm, hairy caterpillar and stemborers. In 1974
serious damage was caused in certain areas by a meloid beetle (Mylabris affinis)
(Bendell, 1974).

Rice* (Oryza sativa)

Rice is grown essentially for home consumption or local sale and the amount coming
on to the commercial market through the sole official purchasing organisation, the
Gambia Produce Marketing Board, has been negligible. The figure for 1973/4 was
230 t (226 Igt),the highest recorded until then. The total area sown under rainfed
conditions was estimated to be 20 235 ha (50 000 ac) in 1974. Some 2 200 ha
(5 000 ac) have been developed for irrigated rice production, most of which is in
the eastern half of the country.

Rice cultivation in The Gambia may be divided into the following types:

1. Alluvial areas
A. Irrigated
A.1 Levees: areas which are naturally readily drained
A.2 Sloughs: areas subject to drainage problems in the wet season

* The advantages of some specific recommended methods for growing irrigated rice are discussed in Part 19,
Input-output analysis and Part 21, Recommendations.

B. Non-irrigated
B.1 Saline affected areas requiring a preliminary leaching out
of salt before use
B.2 Ba-faro: areas subject to uncontrollable freshwater flooding
from the river or other source
B.3 Bantofaro: rainfed areas not normally subject to flooding
from thé main river or tributaries

2. Upland areas (rainfed)

C.1 Tandako: upland depressions on plateau or colluvial areas
C.2 Tributary valleys: gently sloping land, usually not bunded or
terraced, of alluvial/colluvial origin

Irrigated rice has largely been developed since 1966 as a result of the activities of the
Taiwan rice mission and, since 1973, of the Agricultural Development Project. The
Taiwan mission aimed to establish areas of not less than 4 ha (10 ac) on the alluvial
flats through self-help schemes. Each participant would cultivate a minimum of 0.2 ha
(0.5 ac). The suitability of the soil in selected areas was checked by the mission who
also designed the irrigation scheme (drainage of the area tended to be overlooked
because, initially at least, areas selected were naturally well drained.) Appropriately-
sized pumps were supplied to obtain water from the main river or a tributary. Necessary
inputs for the first crop were supplied free; subsequently they had to be purchased.
The Agricultural Development Project followed essentially the same procedure except
that all schemes had to form registered cooperative societies through which all credit
was channelled. No inputs were supplied free, but a loan was given to cover the
initial cost of pumps, equipment, final levelling and cultivation, and the seed and
fertiliser for the first crop.

In recent years upland rice planted in the depressions on plateaux or colluvial areas
(C.1) has been almost abandoned because of poor harvests. These have resulted from
reduced rainfall which has been below the 1 200 mm (47 in) said to be necessary by
the FAO West Africa mission. For the same reason, yields have been adversely
affected in saline areas (B.1) where planting has had to be put back to late September
to ensure that the land is adequately washed free from salt. In the bantofaro areas
(B.3) there have been similar consequences because of the insufficiency of rain for
satisfactory growth. In contrast the yields in the B.2 areas, tributary valleys and
similar situations, appear to have continued to be satisfactory.

Traditionally rice has been grown by women in the wet season using hand cultivation.
The seed is always sown in a nursery and later planted in the.field. The Department
of Agriculture has shown that line sowing in the field is possible in certain rainfed
areas and either this method or broadcasting may be necessary in the future develop-
ment of the crop because of the heavy labour demand of planting. In recent times
there has been increasing participation by men but the only substantial variation from
traditional methods is found within areas cultivated under the Tractor Ploughing
Scheme and those developed by the Taiwan rice mission. The Tractor Ploughing Scheme
was initiated in the mid-1950s to carry out pre-planting cultivation (ploughing and
harrowing) for rice on alluvial areas. The argument for this was that it would enable a
substantially larger area to be planted than would be possible by traditional methods
which were handicapped by the arduous nature of the work and the limited period
available for it. In recent years the scheme has been based at Sapu, MacCarthy Island
Division. The original objective was to cultivate 4 850 ha (12 000 ac) annually between
December and July. This target was never met; in the four seasons from 1970 to 1973
an average of 2 030 ha (5 030 ac) were ploughed and 1 935 ha (4 780 ac) harrowed, in
a season running from April to July. (The minimum area at any one place was 4 ha,
10 ac). No estimate is available of the area actually planted and harvested or of the yields
obtained. In the past few years there has been an increase in the number of low yields
and crop failures due to reduced rainfall. Wolstenholme (1973b) has calculated that the
current charge for the service is uneconomic but that with the increased price of rice

(from 15.5 to 24.2 bututs/kg, 7 to 11 bututs/lb) an economic charge would remain
attractive to the planter. (In December 1974 the price was further increased to
30.9 bututs/kg, 14 bututs/lb.) Wolstenholme also suggested that the abandonment of
the scheme would result in a reduction of the area cultivated annually by 1 200-
2 000 ha (2 000-5 000 ac), whereas an alteration in the present system of payments
could result in a further increase in area. In considering the economic argument it
must be borne in mine that rice grown under this scheme is for subsistence. The
benefits obtained should be judged against those from providing assistance in areas
where irrigation is possible (even if water is only available in the wet season).

In the Taiwan rice scheme the final land cultivations, before the area is bunded, are
ploughing and harrowing by the Department of Agriculture. Following the establish-
ment of the area, pre-planting cultivation is done by pedestrian tractor; until 1974
this was a free service for the first crop with a subsequent charge of D 37/ha (D 15/ac),
a charge related to that made by the Tractor Ploughing Scheme and not based on
economic criteria. Detailed records of the work done are not available. The cost of
the tillers in the early days of the scheme was D 2 400 but it has risen substantially
since. In Taiwan they are said to be capable of cultivating 50 ha (124 ac) per season
and to have a working life of 5-6 years; in TheGambia productivity would be lower
and the economic life of the tractor shorter. The Agricultural Development Project
proposals judged the continuation of the policy of providing power tillers to be unwise
because of the high cost and the problem of maintenance; it was also argued that adequate
labour was available for hand cultivation and that this should be practised. Following
the inception of the project this question came under review.

Oxdrawn implements are not used in rice cultivation, but initial trials on this method
tend to confirm the conclusions of similar work in Casamance; this showed that the
N'Dama was capable of doing the work with appropriate implements if a supplementary
feed of 750 g (1.65 lb) of grain for each hour of work was given daily and the animals
were worked only 4 hours a day (I RAT, 1972).

There is little information on irrigation requirements. A t the present time all irrigated
schemes are sited within 900 m (1 000 yd) of the main river or a tributary; the lift is
seldom more than 5 m (5.5 yds). Each scheme is issued with a diesel driven pump. The
Taiwan mission supplies 10, 12.7, 15 and 20 cm (4, 5, 6 and 8 in) pumps as areas
enlarge from 6 to 16 ha (15 to 40 ac). The 12.7 cm (5 in) pump discharging 108 m^/hr
(= 1 cusec) is considered adequate for 8 ha (20 ac) except in areas where pumping is
only possible for a limited period about the time of high tide. Based on this the
Agricultural Development Project assumed a need for pumping 11 hr/day for 100 days
in the dry season and for 50 days in the wet season in order to supply 14 700 m^/ha
(210 0 0 0 f t 3 / a c ) and 6 250 m3/ha (89 3 0 0 f t 3 / a c ) respectively. Initial experience
suggests that a discharge of not less than 144 m 3 /hr (1.4 cusec) is required to achieve


Investigational work on rice cultivars has covered the collection and testing of local and
introduced cultivars. This has been in progress for over 20 years and on the basis of it
the following are currently recommended:
For irrigated areas: Taichung Native 1, Taichung Native 2
For saline-affected areas: XA 228, Radin China 4, Lead, SR 26
For areas subject to shallow flooding: RH 2, B 402
For areas subject to deep flooding: IC 70, IC 24
For upland areas: Bluebelie, Soavina, Pambira, Che-ke Chiao

Critical work on cultivars for rainfed conditions has been very limited, but is now being
increased through participation in the West African Rice Development Association's
(WARDA) coordinated experimental programme. Trials with some of the TOX lines
from the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, Nigeria,would also be useful.
A t least two of these have a maturation period of approximately 100 days and have
yielded 5 000-6 000 kg/ha (4 450-5 350 Ib/ac). The International Rice Research
Institute's (IRRI) new 90-100 day cultivars would similarly warrant test.

The major work on cultivars for irrigated areas has been undertaken by the Taiwan
rice mission. This has included cultivars of both the japonica and indica subspecies.
The former are now regarded as unsuitable as the rice is unacceptable locally and
this aspect of the programme has been terminated. The indica cultivars have largely
originated in Taiwan or the Philippines (IRRI) and have been tested in the two seasons
of July to November and February to July (Taiwan Rice Mission 1974, The Gambia
Department of Agriculture, Yundum A. Rep. 1970/1; Lee, 1969). As a result of these
trials the mission recommends Taichung Native numbers 1 and 2; on an experimental
scale these have been shown to be capable of yielding over 10 000 kg/ha (8 900 Ib/ac)
in the dry season and rather less in the wet. These two cultivars are now used almost
exclusively in all irrigated areas. No cultivar has been identified which can sustain
satisfactory growth in the cool weather of December-January. If such were found,
it would enable dry-season cropping to be brought forward so that harvesting could
take place by February and thus before irrigation water becomes seriously limited.


Preliminarylists of weeds have been compiled for irrigated rice and upland rice
respectively byMacluskie(no date) and the Department of Agriculture (Yundum A.
Rep. 1969/70). After the initial land cultivation, weed control is now achieved
entirely by hand. Earlier work has shown the benefit in terms of increased yields of
grain from using 2,4-D, MCPA and propanil compared with no weeding. No detailed
studies including different formulations of herbicides and methods of application in
comparison with handweeding have been undertaken; these are necessary before any
decision can be made on the economics and labour requirements of the various
methods. Such work is currently being undertaken on irrigated rice in which the
control of sedges is apparently one of the major problems.


Work on the response of non-irrigated rice to fertilisers has been very limited. A
series of NPK trials was laid down on swamp rice in Lower River and MacCarthy Island
Divisions in 1965 under the aegis of FAO. These comprised randomised blocks which
compared N, NP and NPK treatments. One replicate was laid down at each of 31 sites.
It was found that nitrogen at 45 kg/ha (40 Ib/ac) increased the mean yield by 575 kg/ha
(513 Ib/ac) from 1 604 to 2 179 kg/ha (1 431 to 1 944 Ib/ac); that is a return of 13:1
in terms of increased grain to quantity of nitrogen. The addition of phosphorus at
20 kg/ha (17 Ib/ac) and potassium at 39 kg/ha (35 Ib/ac) made no further significant
difference to the yield. A trial near Sapu on bantofaro soils in 1966/67 gave a significant
yield increase in the main effect of phosphorus at a level of 9 kg/ha (8 Ib/ac) but
nitrogen had no significant effect (Yundum A. Rep. 1965/6, 1966/7). In 1967/68 on
a bantofaro soil near Garawal the result was reversed, the nitrogen main effect being
significant while that of phosphorus and the interaction were not (Yundum A. Rep.
1967/8). In neither case is a two-way table recorded. An experiment laid down in
1970 using the cultivar Taichung Native no. 2 indicated responses in yield to a com-
bination of 67 kg/ha (60 Ib/ac) of nitrogen, 7 kg/ha (6 Ib/ac) of phosphorus and
11 kg/ha (10 Ib/ac) of potassium, but this was sited on an atypical soil at Yundum.
Thus currently there is inadequate information on which to base sound extension

The Taiwan rice mission, on the basis of their earlier experience, recommended making
five applications of 50 kg/ha (44.6 Ib/ac) each of an NP formulation of 20:4.4.
(Potassium is believed to improve the quality of the rice but was not shown to increase
yields.) It was suggested that the applications be made at planting, 12, 24 and 36 days
and at panicle initiation. Four trials laid down in the wet season of 1972 and 12 in the
dry season of 1973 by the LRD team confirmed the efficacy of the recommendation.
They also showed that under the conditions of the experiments:

1. No advantage was obtained from applying the fertiliser at five stages
rather than three (preplanting, maximum tillering and panicle
2. No further yield increase was obtained from the addition of potassium
at 22 kg/ha (20 Ib/ac)
3. An application of half the recommended amount.namely 50 kg/ha
(44.6 Ib/ac) of nitrogen and 12.5 kg/ha (11.1 Ib/ac) of phosphorus,
significantly outyielded control on nine of the 15 sites. The range of
increases was from 846 to 3 165 kg/ha (755-2 823 Ib/ac) with a mean
of 2 095 kg/ha (1 869 Ib/ac). On five of these nine sites the full level
gave significant further increases in yield over the half level; these
additional increases ranged between 790 and 1 556 kg/ha with a mean
of 1 032 kg/ha (705-1 388 Ib/ac, mean 921 Ib/ac)
4. On 12 of the 15 sites the recommended fertiliser treatment applied in
three applications significantly outyielded control (no fertiliser). The
range of increase was from 989 to 3 739 kg/ha with a mean of 2 617 kg/ha
(882-3 336 Ib/ac, mean 2 335 Ib/ac)

For the wet season of 1973 the LRD team decided to attempt to ascertain the optimum
economic level of NP fertiliser application for irrigated alluvial areas of the eastern
Gambia using the cultivar Taichung Native no. 1. For practical reasons the levels
of the two nutrients had to be restricted to four and three respectively; for nitrogen
these were 0, 60, 90 and 120 kg/ha (0, 53.5, 80.3 and 107 Ib/ac) and for phosohorus
0, 15 and 30 kg/ha (0, 13.4 and 26.8 Ib/ac)- The design of the experiment was a 4
by 3 factorial with three replicates on each of five sites. It is necessary to be circumspect
in drawing conclusions from the results of one season's work, but the following points
were noted:

1. There was a significant response to nitrogen on all five sites and on four
to phosphorus; the NP interaction was not significant
2. The current extension recommendation lies between the levels of
treatments N-] P-| and N2P1. The response to these levels is shown in
Table 24.
3. For the P"i level of phosphorus the responses to the four levels of nitrogen
are given in Table 25.

T A B L F 24 Yields of selected treatments from 1973 wet season NP trials, in kg/ha

(Ib/ac) of clean grain at 14% moisture

Site N Difference N
2P1 Difference
0p0 N1P1
1 p
1- N
0 p
0 N2P1-N1P1

Wallikunda 5311 6 624 1 313 6 960 336

(4 737) (5 909) (1 171) (6 208) (300)

Saruja 3 587 5 616 2 029 5 632 16

(3 200) (5 009) (1 810) (5 024) (14)

Wellingara 2 778 5 845 3 067 5 861 16

(2 480) (5 214) (2 736) (5 228) (14)

Sankulikunda 3 800 5 235 1 435 5 418 183

(3 390) (4 670) (1 280) (4 833) (163)

Basse 4 380 5 052 672 6 288 1 236

(3 907) (4 506) (599) (5 609) (1 102)

PLATES 10 & 11

PLATE 10 Irrigated rice fertiliser experiment (the unfertilised plot is in the foreground)

PLATE 11 Cotton cultivar experiment: drying the produce of experimental plots in a farmer's

TABLE 26 NP Fertiliser trials 1973: response at P-j level of phosphorus to four levels
of nitrogen, in kg/ha (Ib/ac)

Site N
1 N2 N

Wallikunda . 6151 6 624 6 960 7 860

(5 487) (5 909) (6 208) (7 011)

Saruja 4 014 5 616 5 632 6 273

(3 580) (5 009) (5 024) (5 595)

Wellingara 2 442 5 845 5 861 6 609)

(2 178) (5 214) (5 228) (5 895)

Sankulikunda 4 518 5 235 5 418 5 861

(4 030) (4 670) (4 833) (5 228)

Basse 5 128 5 052 6 288 6 029

(4 574) (4 506) (5 609) (5 378)

Further experiments are needed to identify the optimum level of nitrogen application,
bearing in mind the economics of the practice for the wet season; similar trials are
needed for the dry season.


The Taiwan rice mission reported that stemborers were the most serious pest and
recommended fortnightly spraying, particularly in the wet season (Chang, 1974). Very
little evidence exists, though, on the extent of insect damage and therefore on the
economics of control. In an observation in 1972/73, Conway (1973a) recorded yields
of 3 979 kg/ha (3 550 Ib/ac) from five plots which had been regularly sprayed with
malathion and 3 968 kg/ha (3 540 Ib/ac) from five untreated plots. After noting that
virtually the entire insect complex recorded elsewhere in West Africa was present he
concluded that at present levels, malathion spraying was not justified. Marenah (1973)
has warned against the introduction of routine spraying in these circumstances and
recommended confining insecticidal treatments to specific attacks. With the extension
of double-cropping of rice in the eastern part of the country there is a possibility of an
increase in pest damage. There is thus a need for a study of the life history, ecology,
natural mortality, alternate hosts, damage by and control of the major species. The
following are the pests which have been recorded on rice in Department of Agriculture
reports and by Grist and Lever (1969):

Arctiid moths Creatonotus leucanioides

Diacrisia scortilis
Caseworm Nymphula depunctalis
Cutworm Spodoptera littoral is
S. mauritia
Meloid beetles Epicauta sp.
Mylabris affinis
Plant bugs Diploxys fa/lax
Stenocoris apical is
Stalk-eyed fly Diopsis thoracica
Stemborers Chilo sp. (? diffusilinea)
Acigona ignefulasis
Sesamia calamistis
S. inferens
Tryporyza incertulas

Birds (particularly Ploceus spp.), hippopotamus (H. amphibius), warthogs (Phacochoerus

aethiopicus) and rats are the other major pests of rice.


The two fungal diseases,brown spot (Cochliobolus miyabeanus (Helminthosporium

oryzae)) and blast (Pyricularia oryzae), have been recorded but no assessment of
yield losses has been made; although apparently widespread they are not currently
serious. Brown spot has been recorded both on leaves and grain. Several experiments
were laid down in 1965 and 1966 t o test the effect of seed-dressing, potassium and
cultivar on its incidence but they were inconclusive. The disease is almost certainly
symptomatic of unsatisfactory soil conditions (mineral deficiency, reducing conditions
or insufficient moisture) and work related to it therefore should be directed to
correcting these. Blast is mainly found in the nursery during the wet season. There has •
not been a systematic assessment of the susceptibility to blast of the rice cultivars
grown in The Gambia although some information on this is available from Djibelor.
It is desirable that both existing cultivars and new importations are so tested. This
can best be done in the seedling stage using the uniform blast nursery testing method
developed at the International Rice Research Institute (Ou, 1972).

Friendship (1971) has recorded the presence of the nematode, Aphelenchoides

bessayi. This is the causal organism of the disease white t i p ; the disease has not been
reported from The Gambia but it is present in Senegal (Barat et al., 1966). Fortuner
and Merny (1973) found that nematode species in The Gambia were less numerous than
in Basse-Casamance and that only Hirschmanniella oryzae was frequent and abundant.
This nematode attacks the roots of the rice and in consequence can cause a retardation
of growth; this has not yet been noted as a problem in The Gambia.


With the improvement of methods of production, more uniform ripening of the crop
is now being achieved; this enables harvesting by sickle to be undertaken rather than
harvesting of the individual ear. A pedal thresher has also been successfully introduced,
in irrigated rice schemes. Drying of the grain is done entirely by the sun although the
Marketing Board has a drier attached to its mill. As long as rice continues to be
harvested in the dry season, this situation is likely to continue and artificial drying will
not be introduced at farm level.

Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor)

Sorghum is commonly grown either as a pure stand on land close to the village on which
cattle were tethered for a period during the preceding dry season, or as a mixed crop
with groundnuts. The Department of Agriculture recommend ploughing the land to a
depth of 20 cm (8 in) following the harvest of the previous crop (groundnuts), or at
the onset of the rains; this system has been adopted only to a very limited degree
and usually cultivation is minimal. Planting occurs in June-July.


Cultivars currently used are of the Guinea 'race' (Curbir, 1967) and have a maturation
period of 90-150 days, most lying between 120 and 130 days. All are tall (4 m,13 ft)
and have open, loose pendulous panicles and a small seed size. They have a thin
mesocarp, a white pericarp (except in Western Division where it is red) and the testa
is not coloured in the mature grain. All are sensitive to the photoperiod and flower
with the shorter days of September and hence about the time of the termination of
the rains; as a result of this it is hoped that they will avoid attack by moulds but
will mature when there is still adequate soil moisture for grain development. Average
yields are believed to be 670-900 kg/ha (600-800 Ib/ac) but with improved husbandry
it isconsidered possible to increase this to 2 000 kg/ha (1 780 Ib/ac). In recent years
local cultivars have been studied and compared with exotics made available through
the OAU/STRC Joint Project 26. Hancock (1975) has defined the desirable
characteristics of a cultivar as being a synthetic or other stable form having:

1. Plant height of 2 m (6.5 ft)

2. Maturation period of 125 days for the main crop

3. Tolerance of Striga spp. and resistence to pests and diseases

4. Fairly loose panicle with adequate exsertion from the flag leaf to prevent

5. Grain yield of 2 500 kg/ha (2 225 Ib/ac) or more

6. Grain/straw ratio of 1:2— 1:4

7. Small grain (approximately 20 g/1 000 grains) with white pericarp, absence
of coloured testa and acceptable vitreosity, giving a white, sweet flour

None of the many cuitivars so far tested have met all these criteria, usually because
their maturation period has been either too long (140 days +) or too short (90-100
days). None therefore has yet been selected for seed multiplication and distribution.
However, some of the early maturing cuitivars might be of value both because they
appear to be higher yielding and because they would produce an earlier crop. This
might mean the acceptance of grain characters not found in currently used cuitivars,
e.g. coloured pericarp or presence of subcoat. The programme in Senegal on early
dwarf cuitivars would be relevant to this.


Fertiliser experiments on sorghum have been concerned both with the traditional and
dwarf early maturing cuitivars. Cattle manure at 15 t/ha (6 lgt/ac) is recommended
for both the supply of nutrients and the improvement of soil structure and water-
holding capacity. Nitrogen at 49-62 kg/ha (44-55 Ib/ac) and phosphorus at 11 kg/ha
(10 Ib/ac) are advised but critical studies on levels and economics have not yet been
carried out. No response to potassium has been demonstrated nor has any foliar
symptom of trace-element deficiency been noted.

Pests and diseases

The major pests of sorghum are sorghum midge, Contarinia sorghicola and weaver birds.
Other pests include American boliworm (Heliothis armigera),aphids (Aphis spJ,cotton
stainer (Dysdercus s p p j , meloid beetles (Psalydolytta flavicornis, Mylabris holoserica),
shoot fly (Atherigona s p j , and stemborersfßi/sseo/a fusca, Eldana saccharina and
Sesamia calamistis). Covered and loose smuts are the most important diseases of
sorghum but yields are seldom seriously reduced except in very localised areas; other
recorded diseases include covered smut (Sphacelotheca sorghi),qrey leaf spot
(Cercospora sorghi), long smut (Tolyposporium ehrenberyii), rough leaf spot
(Ascochyta sorghina), sooty stripe (Ramulispora sorghi) zonate leaf spot
(Gloeocercospora sorghi).


Striga spp. (S. hermontheca, S. asiatica) are the major weeds of sorghum. They appear
about the beginning of September and farmers are advised to uproot and burn them
regularly but this is not done. Spot application (spray or granular) of herbicides
might be both more effective and more readily adopted. In some continuously used
areas near villages, suitable rotations would also be beneficial.


Baobab (Adansonia digitata)

Specimens of baobab are commonly found on the perimeter of villages and in clusters
at what may have been old village sites. The trees are exploited not only for the fibre
which is obtained from the inner bark but also as a vegetable (the leaves), drink (fruit
pulp), medicine and seed.

Cotton* (Gossypium hirsutum var. latifolium)

An experimental programme and a pilot extension project undertaken by the

Department of Agriculture have shown that it is technically feasible to grow cotton in
The Gambia and that the crop is apparently acceptable to farmers.

The pilot extension programme has been undertaken in Upper River Division and
since 1969 the area cultivated has risen from 11 to 405 ha (27 to 1 200 ac) (Table 26).
Data on yields obtained by farmers are essentially based on the quantities of seed
cotton sold to the Government; these may be an underestimate of actual yields for
they do not include cotton retained for home use or local sale.

TABLE 26 Pilot cotton extension programme, 1969-74

Total area Yield

No. of
ha ac kg/ha Ib/ac

1969 11 27 907 809 23

1970 40 100 829 740 59

1971 81 201 528 471 149

1972 202 500 852 760 330

1973 307 760 883 788 455

1974 405 1 000 660 590

During the initial years of the project all seed cotton was bought for 271/2 bututs/kg
(121/2 bututs/lb) but in 1973 grading was introduced with the result that stained
cotton obtained only half the price of clean. (The proportion of stained cotton
purchased was only 0.8%.) Available ginnery facilities were adequate for the period of
the project, but the acceptance of cotton as a suitable crop for diversifying the
country's agriculture creates an immediate need for a modern saw ginnery. It is
expected that this will be constructed at Basse in 1976 with the aid of a loan from the
African Development Bank. To make such a ginnery economic it is necessary to
increase production as quickly as possible; it is therefore proposed that the area under
cotton should be increased to 1 200 ha (3 000 ac), 2 020 ha (5 000 ac), 3 240 ha
(8 000 ac) and 4 050 ha (10 000 ac) respectively in the 4 years from 1975 to 1978. On
the conclusion of this programme consideration can be given to the further expansion
of the crop to 10 000 ha (25 000 ac). This area would give an adequate production for
recognition of The Gambia as a regular supplier of a recognised cotton in world trade
or for the establishment of a local spinning and weaving industry. (Eventual mean
yields are assumed to be in excess of 1 000 kg/ha (900 Ib/ac)).The methods employed
for this expansion will be the same as those used for the pilot project. Each participant
will be a member of a group and will be required t o grow at least 0.4 ha (1 ac); the
maximum area he can grow will depend on his ability to follow guidance on production

*The advantages of some specific recommended methods for growing this crop are discussed in Part 19, Input-
output analysis and Part 21, Recommendations.

techniques. Compliance with this is essential; several farmers left or were dismissed
from the pilot project because their failure to sow, fertilise, weed or spray their crop
at the right time resulted in poor yields. Necessary inputs of seed, fertiliser and
insecticide will be supplied free of charge; the cost of these is met by a reduction in the
price paid to the farmer for his seed cotton. Participants will receive advice from
demonstrators on all aspects of cultivation from land selection to crop grading.
Initially one demonstrator was responsible for some 8 ha (20 ac). By 1978 this should
be nearer to one per 60 ha (150 ac); the competence of these demonstrators and the
efficient supply of inputs at village level is fundamental to the success of the scheme.

Cotton in The Gambia is entirely rainfed. It has been grown satisfactorily in all
Divisions of the country but earlier trials indicated that the eastern, part, particularly
Upper River Division, was the most suitable; therefore development will be sited on
the colluvial and deeper plateau soils of that Division. Land cultivation is undertaken
by hand or oxdrawn implements. Sowing is done entirely by hand either on the flat
or on ridges; in either case the need for the sown areas to be on level ground to ensure
uniform growth has been recognised. (Under Gambian conditions ridges are probably
undesirable because of the danger of the young seedling being dessicated if early rains
are sporadic.) If the prototype Siscoma machine proves capable of sowing undelinted
seed,or the use of delinted seed with the Super Eco seeder proves economic, this
could substantially reduce labour requirements at a critical time. Farmers are expected
to complete sowing by 15 July. This recommendation is based partly on experience
elsewhere which has shown the desirability of planting with the first rains and partly
on an experiment laid down in Lower River and MacCarthy Island Divisions in 1965
which showed substantial reductions in yield resulting from successive plantings after
the last week in June. The need for early planting has been further underlined in recent
years when the rainy season has ended early.


Cotton has been grown in The Gambia for centuries; until recently the botanical
variety would have been predominantly Gossypium hirsutum var. punctatum (Schum.)
Hutch, but in the mid-1960s Munro (1965, 1967) also recorded G. arboreum and
G. barbadense. In 1956 G. hirsutum var. marie-galante was introduced from the West
Indies; because this perennial was a late flowerer it was hoped that it would avoid
bollworm attack and, further, would ratoon annually; but neither the experimental
cotton nor an extension trial of it were successful (The Gambia Department of
Agriculture, Yundum A. Rep. 1956/7, 1957/8, 1958/9, 1959/60). The Nigerian
selection from long-season American material, Samaru 260, showed more promise and
two further selections from the same cultivar, Samaru 26J and Allen 333/57, were the
major cultivars on test from 1965 to the end of the decade. In the east of the country
they proved capable of yielding over T 100 kg/ha (1 000 lb/ac,of seed cotton. When
the pilot extension project began in 1969, the cultivar used was Allen 333/57 which
was also the one then used in Senegal. In 1972 this was partially replaced by BJA 592
which had been bred in Chad; in 1973 this became the sole cultivar used in The
Gambia; it had already been adopted in the adjacent areas of Senegal. BJA 592 is
believed to have a potential yield of 3 000 kg/ha (2 675 Ib/ac) of seed cotton and to
make possible an average yield in Senegambia of over 1 100 kg/ha (980 Ib/ac) with a
ginning percentage of 37-38. This is considered to be 10-20% better than Allen 333/57.
The new cultivar is also thought to be more drought resistant (Blanguernon, 1972). In
Senegal though, in 1972 there were indications that drought could reduce the ginning
percentage, line length and seed viability; this possibility is now under study. In 1973
a collaborative programme with IRCT was started to test potentially suitable new
cultivars simultaneously in both countries; this includes work on shorter-season
cultivars in case the alteration in rainfall makes this necessary.


No clear picture emerged from fertiliser experiments carried out between 1965 and
1972 (Yundum A. Rep. 1965/6 to 1971/2). These mostly tested the effect of the
application of nitrogen and phosphorus; in the majority of experiments there was no

significant response in terms of yield to either nutrient, though there were sometimes
suggestive increases, particularly to nitrogen. In 1972, response to potassium in terms
of increased weight of plant framework at four sites was deemed to indicate a
potential if the fertiliser application was made soon after planting. In 1973, a series of
eight NPKS experiments laid down on representative soils of the Upper River Division
showed significant increases in yield of seed cotton over control (no fertiliser) resulting
from the application of 8 kg/ha P (7 Ib/ac), 14 kg/ha S (12.5 Ib/ac) and 25 kg/ha N
(22 Ib/ac) on six sites; this is the current extension recommendation. The increase
ranged from 15 to 50% and from 205 to 642 kg/ha (183-573 Ib/ac) with a mean of
401 kg/ha (358 Ib/ac). On the remaining two sites the increases in yield were 11 and
14% (161 and 255 kg/ha, 144 and 227 Ib/ac), respectively; the comparative lack of
response may have been due to the effect of tethering cattle on the site during the
previous dry season. Foliar symptoms of potassium deficiency have been recorded
from a number of sites, particularly in the mature crop. They comprise an interveinal
yellowing causing a transparent appearance, followed by reddening of the leaves as
they dry out and become brittle, while the stem turns black. Thus, while yield
responses to potassium have not yet been recorded, they may be expected when high
yields are obtained. It has also been argued that there can be serious leaching of
potassium as a result of heavy rain and therefore fertilisation should be made in split
applications (Blanguernon, 1972). A pale yellow-green colouration of leaves and a
check to plant growth has been noted on plots which did not receive sulphur but this
lack has not been shown to effect yields. Occasional yellowing of the lamina while
veins remain green has been noted in areas near Basse and attributed to magnesium
deficiency, but this has yet to be confirmed. The application of calcium was tested at
Yundum where soil pH was about the critical level (pH 5); in the east of the country
the level is above this. Symptoms of boron deficiency in the mild form of black
swollen bands across the petiole have been noted, but only rarely.

Weed control

The need for the cotton crop to be weeded within two weeks of sowing, to prevent a
severe setback to the crop's growth, is emphasised in extension work. This weeding is
done by hand or by oxdrawn implements and it coincides with similar heavy demands
for labour for groundnuts and cereals. The use of herbicides, if possible applied by
ULV sprayers, therefore requires consideration; in Senegal trifluralin has been used
successfully when applied pre-emergence. The principal weeds concerned there are
graminaceous and Combretum spp.


It was accepted from the start of the experimental programme that the control of
insect pests would be essential for the achievement of satisfactory yields. Experiments
carried out between 1968 and 1970 showed that an insecticidal spraying programme
could result in increases in crop yield of 0-112%; in terms of seed cotton this
represented increases of 0-905 kg/ha (848 Ib/ac) (Yundum A. Rep. 1968/9-1970/1).
Because of the difficulties involved in ensuring that the appropriate insecticide is
applied at the optimum time on every farmer's field through the seasonal sequence of
pest attacks, the Senegalese introduced periodic spraying of an insecticidal mixture
(currently DDT, endosulfan and methyl parathion). This approach was considered
undesirable in The Gambia because of the danger to human beings, the cost and the
unknown long-term hazards of using a kill-all insecticide. It was recognised that the
most effective and economic control would result from spraying based on pest
scouting, but the inexperience of extension staff and farmers made this impracticable.
A fixed-schedule spraying programme with a succession of insecticides based on the
forecast sequence of pests was therefore followed, subject to modification to allow for
seasonal vagaries in pest incidence. In practice this was not satisfactory and in 1974
regular spraying with didigam(DDT and gamma BHC) at 10 day intervals, augmented
when necessary by dimethoate, was introduced.

The insecticides are now applied with a conventional knapsack sprayer with hand
lance or tailboom. These are effective but as the crop grows larger and application
rates require the use of up to 280 l/ha (25 gal/ac), the labour required rises and may
become unacceptable or an inadequate quantity of mixture may be applied. Further,
as the area under the crop expands and is, inevitably, sited farther from sources of
water, this situation will be exacerbated. Trials on ultralow volume (ULV) spraying
therefore started in 1973 and showed promise; further studies are being made on
effectiveness, costs, toxicity and application problems; the possibility of introducing
spraying teams is also being considered.

The major pests have so far proved to be American bollworm, red bollworm and white
fly (a list of insect pests so far recorded is given below).Domestic stock (cattle, sheep
and goats) also damage the crop in the later stages.

Armyworm Lesser armyworm Spodoptera exigua

Boll-sucking bugs Shield bug Nezara sp.?

Bol I worms American bollworm Heliothis armigera

False codling moth Cryptophlebia leucotreta

Red bollworm Diparopsis castanea

D. watersii

Spiny bollworm Earias insulana

E. biplaga

Leaf-eating insects Cotton semi-looper Anomis flava

Xanthodes graellsii

Leaf roller Sylepta derogata

Amsacta sp.

Sucking insects Aphid Aphis gossypii

Cotton stainer Dysdercus superstitiosus

D. fasciatus

Jassid Empoasca sp.

Lygus Lygussp.

White fly Bemisia tabaci

Seed-sucking bugs Oxycarenus sp.

The pink scavenger worm (Pyroderces simplex) and the false pink bollworm (Mometa
Pzemiodes), the larva of which may be confused with that of the pink bollworm
(Platyedra gossypiella), have also been recorded.


Although lesions caused by bacterial blight (Xanthomonas malvacearum) are common,

the disease is not serious because of the policy of dressing seed before distribution and
using resistant cultivars. In 1970 there was an outbreak of Fusarium oxysporum, F.
vasinfectum and F. solani on the cultivar Allen 333/57. In 1972 and 1973 there were

six recorded outbreaks of a vascular wilt of unknown aetiology on the cultivar BJA
592. These each covered an area of no more than 0.25 ha (0.5 ac) and were sited in
different villages. In one case groundnuts were understood t o have been similarly
affected in the previous season (Phoma sorghina and Leptosphaerulia trifolii were
isolated from one specimen but were not considered likely to have caused the wilt).
Further investigations on this and the possible relationship with nematodes are being
undertaken. ORSTOM have described the nematodes Pratylenchus sefaensis and
Tylenchorynchus gladiolatus on cotton in The Gambia (Fortuner, 1973; Fortuner &
Amougou, 1973). The need for vigilance and for rotation of crops has been recognised
from the start of the current cotton programme. No work has been done on boll rots
but the position may be similar to that in Senegal. There, Lagière (1973) estimated,
that losses from this cause averaged 10-20% of the crop with a range of 2-80%. Losses
due t o primary infection, though, were much less than those from secondary infection
following insect damage. The efficient execution of the insecticidal programme
should keep such losses low. In 1968 Munro recorded a case of severe blackening and
wilting, probably due to Alternaria. Macrophomina sp. has also been recorded.

Kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus)

Small quantities of kenaf, from the stem of which a bast fibre can be obtained, are
found in the eastern part of The Gambia. The species is suited to the conditions and
can be expected to occur naturally. In a search for suitable crops for diversification a
sample of the fibre was sent to the Imperial Institute (now Tropical Products Institute),
London who found it to be of exceptional length, good strength and satisfactory
composition; the matter does not appear to have been followed up (see also Roselle).

Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa)

The botanical variety, altissima, of roselle, a tall practically unbranched plant 4 m

(12 ft) high is grown for fibre.

Sisal (Agave sisalana)

Sisal is a xerophytic perennial which produces a coarse fibre. Small stands are found
in both the east and the west of the country but the crop is little exploited.


Avocado (Persea americana)

Avocados are little grown at the present time. The possibility of air-freighting the fruit
to Europe was not pursued because the Gambian season coincides with that of Israel
and South Africa and it was not felt that the Gambian crop could compete
economically. Limited propagation by the Department of Agriculture is proposed for
local usage.

Banana (Musa cwj

Although some excellent stools of bananas can be found in gardens and compounds,
the environmental conditions are not suited to large-scale commercial production.
The crop will therefore be confined to small-scale production for the home market
and tourists.

Cashew (Anacardium occidentale)

Specimens of cashew showing satisfactory vegetative growth are found in the Depart-
ment of Agriculture's plantation at Abuko and elsewhere in the western part of the
country but accurate information on yields and kernel size is lacking. In the major
cashew growing countries, the main products are the cashew nut and cashew nut shell
liquid (CNSL). The swollen peduncle or hypocarp, the cashew apple, can also be used as a

fruit or for making wine, jam or stockfeed. Until recently, the processing of the fruit
could not be done mechanically and for the export market almost all processing was
done in India; on occasion cashew nuts were even sent there from West Africa. Now
processing plants are available which are capable of handling quantities from 600 t/a
(591 Igt/a). Such a plant would work throughout the year using stored nuts during
that period when the trees are not in bearing. The proportion of usable nuts and the
percentage of whole kernels declines during this period, but it is still possible to obtain
a satisfactory outturn. The prospects for export sales of cashew nut kernels are
expected to remain good for the rest of this decade, as far as can be predicted in the
current economic climate. The price of CNSL however is expected to decline due to
overproduction (Wilson, 1974). The possible role of cashew in the Gambian economy
therefore requires consideration.

Goujon et al. (1973) have listed the requirements for the economic production of
cashew nuts as follows:-

1. An annual rainfall of 800-1 800 mm (31.5-71 in) spread over 5-7 months
with a wellmarked dry season of 5-7 months. With a precipitation of
800-1 000 mm (31.5-39.5 in), production is related to moisture availability
and irrigation may be required for high yields

2. Altitude below 600 m (1 970 ft). Cashew is usually found in coastal plains
and adjacent low hills

3. Temperature: dry season monthly maximum 25-30°C (77-86°F)

minimum 12-19°C (54-66 °F)
wet season monthly maximum 30-32°C (86-90°F)
" " " minimum 20-24°C (68-75°F)

4. Cloud cover from flowering to harvest of 20-25%

5. In the lower range of rainfall the relative humidity in the dry season is an
important factor in ensuring adequate moisture. Desiccating winds such as
the harmattan will clearly increase the likelihood of a deficiency

6. Light, sandy soils, deep and welldrained are preferred; cashew is intolerant
of waterlogging

With the climate experienced in recent years the western region of The Gambia would
appear to be marginal for the production of cashew. Using the classification suggested
by Goujon et al. (1973), potential areas seem to lie in the category where the need for
afforestation or soil protection is an important factor in addition to the potential
yield of fruit. In such areas it is suggested that an initial stand of 1 000/ha (405/ac) at
3 x 3 m (10 x 10 ft) should be established. This is subsequently successively thinned
down to 100/ha (40/ac) during which period 40-50 steres/ha of fuel wood is obtained
(1 stere is a stack of 1 m3). The equivalent yield in imperial units would be 4.5-5.5
cords/ac, a cord being a stack 8 x 4 x 4 ft.

A more accurate assessment of the potential for cashew could be obtained by

rehabilitating existing stands and recording yields.

Coconuts (Cocos nucifera)

Well grown specimens of tall coconuts may be found in compounds or near habitations
in the western part of The Gambia. In 1966 seed of dwarf coconuts were received from
Jamaica; these have been used for a fertiliser observation trial laid down at Yundum
station. Although coconuts may have a useful domestic role they will not be a
commercially viable crop because of the unsuitable environmental conditions, of
which the major deleterious ones are:

1. The inadequacy and poor distribution of the rainfall. A minimum of
1 400 mm (55 in) per annum well distributed; ideally a minimum of
120 mm (4.7 in) per month, is desirable

2. The low relative humidity, the optimum is 80-90% with a monthly minimum
average of 60%

Date (Phoenix dactylifera)

Occasional specimens of date palm are found; they have probably been established
from seed brought back from a pilgrimage to Mecca. They do not bear well in the
Gambian climate.

Lime (Citrus aurantifolia)

Limes have been cultivated for many years in The Gambia and grow and yield well in
favoured situations. It is believed that a mature healthy tree may give up to 100 kg
(220.5 lb) per year but yields vary widely. It has been shown that juice, oil and peel
of satisfactory commercial quality can be obtained and since 1967 a factory has been
producing single-strength juice and oil for export on a small scale (see Table 27). There
are no technical reasons why the more easily transportable and saleable concentrated
juice should not replace single strength juice. Additional possibilities include cordial
and the use of lime waste as an animal feed.

Table 27 Production of racked juice and lime oil, 1967/8-1973/4

Fruit purchased Racked juice Oil

t igt I gal kg lb

1967/8 29 29 9 970 2 193 52 115

1968/9 33 33 10 360 2 279 78 172
1969/70 61 60 24 240 5 332 107 236
1970/1 128 126 45 461 10 000 286 630
1971/2 117 115 46 420 10210 290 640
1972/3 157 155 33 930 7 464 712 323
1973/4 122* 120* 47 735 10 500 573 260
1974/5 107* 105* 9 500 2 090 800 363

* Excludes purchases from farmers

Recent work on limes began with an experimental programme which started in 1959,
the objects being to assess the suitability of The Gambia for commercial exploitation
of the crop, devise methods of husbandry and identify suitable sites. This programme
demonstrated that, under the experimental conditions of Yundum, watering of the
trees during the dry seasons of the first three years' growth substantially increased the
yield of fruit at the first harvest: levels of watering were the equivalent of 4.5-9 1/day
(1-2 gal/day) per tree. Watering was then stopped and it was noted that the yields in
the second season of bearing did not indicate any marked residual effect from the
treatments. (In recent extension work it has been demonstrated that as many as half
of the immature limes may die if they are not regularly watered in the dry season). The
effect of irrigation on the length of the cropping season, which now runs from
September to December, has not yet been ascertained. Mulching would probably be
beneficial but this has not been demonstrated. A fertiliser experiment recorded
significant increases in yield in the first and second crop from applying 0.45 kg (I lb)
each of single superphosphate and sulphate of potash per tree in the first two growing
seasons and double that quantity in years 3 and 4. Sulphate of ammonia at the rate
of 0.34 kg (0.75 lb) in years 1 and 2 and 0.65 kg (1.5 lb) per tree in years 3 and 4
increased the yield of the first crop but not the second. For the first crop the mean
yields of the PK and NPK treatments were 30 kg (65.7 lb) and 38 kg (83.7 lb),
respectively, and for the second crop the yields were 83 kg (183 lb) and 91 kg (200 lb)
per tree (The Gambia Dept. of Agriculture, Yundum A. Rep. 1963/4). On a different
site, nitrogen applications of 0.45, 0.9 and 1.36 kg (1, 2 and 3 lb) of sulphate of
ammonia per tree in years 2, 3 and 4 respectively increased the mean yield of fruit per

tree in the first crop from 4.8 to 49.6 kg (10.7 to 109.3 lb). A further experiment
compared no pruning with pruning the lower branches to leave two, three and four
main branches; in the early harvests this had no significant effect on yield.

Up to the present time propagation has been done entirely by seed, using the Mexican
(= West Indian) cultivar. This is a cheap and easy method but it has the disadvantage
that only the nucellar embryos have the same genetic constitution as the parent and
they tend to produce trees which are slower to come into bearing. Zygotic embryos
result in variation in the planting material. The virus disease, tristeza, has been recorded
in West Africa and Bannister (1971) has reported a decline of unknown aetiology in
some plantations in Western Division. If tristeza is found in The Gambia its control will
require the use of resistant rootstocks and therefore budded material. Trials on this are
in progress. Other diseases have not proved to be serious. Pests recorded include
termites, scales, red spiders and citrus swallowtail butterfly. Severe attacks by several
species of scale insects can reduce crops and fruit value (Conway & Bendell, 1974).

For the small farmers, limes, like other tree crops, have the disadvantage that they
produce no income for the first few years. A return can be gained from the land through

To ensure the production of good quality juice and oil it is necessary to harvest the
fruit at the correct time (usually by collection from the ground) and have it processed
within 24-48 hr. In The Gambia, apart from an estate of less than 40 ha (100 ac),
development will be by smallholders and it will therefore be necessary to ensure that
there is an adequate number of trees in any given area to justify regular marketing.
Development of the crop for processing will be confined to a minimum of 300 trees
per site to be sited in the western part of the country where they will be both near
to the factory and in the climatically more suitable zone. Initially, plantinq will be
confined to areas contiguous with vegetable schemes where the dry season watertable
is within 9 m (30 ft) of the surface.

Mango (Mangifera indica)

The ecological conditions in The Gambia are very suitable for the mango and excellent
specimens of the tree are to be found throughout the country. These appear to be
essentially free of disease and of pests other than bats and birds. They give good yields
of clean fruit for which there is a ready market locally, but the overwhelming majority
of the trees have developed from seedlings of unimproved cultivars and the fruit is
frequently fibrous and turpentine flavoured. Improved cultivars such as Julie and
Peter have done well and these are being propagated vegetatively (by budding). In 1971
fruit of an improved cultivar was exported to the United Kingdom but development of
the trade was said to be prevented by the infrequency of the shipping.

In 1973 Kramer (1973) undertook trials on processing; using fruit obtained in the
western half of the country he prepared four products:

1. Pulp (no additives)

2. Appetiser (pulp diluted with water containing citric acid and sugar)

3. Sweet drink (similar to appetiser but with different proportions of acid and

4. Slices in syrup

It was noted that the fruit under test varied in weight from 130-810 g (4.6-28.6 oz).
The percentage of pulp varied from 52-77% and was related to cultivar and fruit size.
On the basis of the trials it was concluded that fruit of the cultivar "Lusacks"
(? Alphonso) was marginally suitable for canned slices and cultivars Sierra Leone,
Julie and Peter were the best of those tested for juicing.

Minor citrus*: Grapefruit (Citrusparadisi) Orange (C. sinensis)

Good specimens of orange and grapefruit can be found, usually in gardens or compounds.
The fruit is used both for home consumption and sale as fresh fruit. The Department of
Agriculture has imported planting material of various orange cultivars over the years,
including Washington Navel, Jaffa and Verina; currently it is planned to make available
budded material of Valencia. No information is available on the agronomy of either
species, although they are subject to severe moisture stress in the dry season if not
watered. Foliar symptoms of an apparent zinc deficiency were noted in oranges in a
number of areas of Western Division (The Gambia, Dept. of Agriculture, Yundum A. Rep.

The limited expansion of both species for fresh fruit and juice production is being
considered. For larger scale development of citrus, limes will be more suitable.

Papaya, paw paw (Carica papaya)

Papaya is a fairly common compound crop; the trees are frequently branched which is
indicative of injury. There have been periodic suggestions that the crop might be grown
for papain; this is prepared from the dried latex of unripe fruit and is used as a meat
tenderiser, a stabiliser for bottled beer and other purposes. In the late 1920s a sample
was sent to London for testing and found to be satisfactory (The Gambia Dept. of
Agriculture Annual Report 1929/30). No trials of the crop have been undertaken but
it is believed that nematodes would prove to be a serious problem.

Passion fruit (Passiflora edulis)

Specimens of passion fruit are occasionally found and they appear to grow well with
dry-season watering.

Pineapple (Ananas comosus)

Specimens of pineapple, believed t o be mainly of the Red Spanish cultivar, are found
but they seldom do well. The ecological conditions are not ideal and this is exacerbated
by the effects of nematodes and mealybugs.

Talo (Detarium senegalense)

'Talo' is found on hydromorphic soils of the western part of the country and is
occasionally planted. The pulp from the pods is edible.


Bambara groundnut (Voandzeia subterranea)

Small plots of bambara groundnuts are commonly grown for home consumption
either as the unripe seed or as a pulse; flour can also be produced. On poor exhausted
soils, Purseglove (1968) states that they yield better than groundnuts.

Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata)

Cowpea has been grown very little in The Gambia although it is a grain legume of
economic importance in Senegal (Anon. 1971). The unripe pods, the ripe seeds and
the green leaves and shoots can be eaten and provide a good source of high quality
protein; elsewhere it is used for flour and as a fodder, green manure or cover crop.
Cowpeas will grow on a wide range of soils and will tolerate poorer conditions than

* Less commonly grown in The Gambia, in comparison with limes.

the common bean. Yields though have been low, often less than 350 kg/ha (300 Ib/ac)
(Summerfield eta/., 1974); this has been attributed to insect and disease attack,
lack of adaptability and inefficient plant type (International Institute of Tropical
Agriculture, 1974). In spite of this, cowpeas have been identified as the food legume
most suitable for semi-arid to subhumid lowland tropical areas (Milner, 1973). There-
fore work at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, Nigeria, the primary
centre for research on cowpeas, aims at overcoming species deficiencies and substantially
increasing yields. In 1973 the mean yields of 11 cultivars in the international uniform
cultivar trial ranged between 1 239-1 955 kg/ha (1 105-1 744 Ib/ac). Similar work in
Senegal has produced lines which over two to three seasons have given average yields
of 1 500-1 800 kg/ha (1 340-1 600 Ib/ac), are non-photosensitive and have a maturation
period of 70-80 days (Sene and N'Dieye, 1974).

Pigeon pea (Cajanus ca/an)

Occasional small stands of pigeon pea are found. This short-lived perennial shrub
tolerates a wide range of soil types, is fairly drought resistant and can be easily
established from seed. The immature pods and the mature seeds are nutritious. The
plant could also be used as a fodder. Primary responsibility for international research
lies with the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT),
Hyderabad. UTA, lbadar\is doing work on both early (80-90 days) cultivars and hedge
and tree types which might be of value to The Gambia.


Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis)

The breadfruit is found in The Gambia both in the seeded (breadnut) and seedless
form but it is not important either as a vegetable for man or as a fodder (leaves) for


Excellent specimens of both Ceiba pentandra and Bombax buonopozense are found
throughout the country. Their kapok is used in the home and for sale on a small scale
to Banjul.

Lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus)

Clumps of lemon grass, grown for flavouring food, are found in gardens.

Mulberry (Moms alba)

In 1971 a number of mulberry trees were established on a farm in Western Division and
initial growth was satisfactory. Attempts were also made to produce eggs of the silk-
worm moth (Bombyx mori).

Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum)

Small patches of tobacco, including rustica tobacco, can be found in compounds. The
possibility of growing the crop on a commercial scale was considered by an expert of
the British-American Tobacco Company in 1956; he stated that:

1. The soil was deficient in plant food and minerals

2. The physical condition of the soil was unsuitable because of the very high
clay content

3. The water for irrigation contained a high percentage of salts

4. Labour was insufficient to meet the demands of the intensive

cultivation required.
In consequence no further action was taken (The Gambia, Prime Minister's Office
1965). It would appear that the expert was considering the alluvial flats of the
western part of the country.


Groundnut* (Arachis hypogaea)

Groundnuts are the only major cash crop in The Gambia. Although confectionery and
HPS (hand-picked selected) kernels of oilseed types for the edible food trade have been
produced since 1967, millers' nuts continue to predominate. In 1974 133 400 t
(131 300 Igt) of undecorticated nuts were delivered to the sole official purchasing
organisation, the Gambian Produce Marketing Board. Subsequently exports of
confectionery and HPS products totalled 5 727 t (5 637 Igt) of kernels and 618 t
(608 Igt) unshelled. Oilseed nuts are grown throughout the country and it is unusual
for a crop husband man not to include them in his production both for home use and
for sale, unhulled, to the Board. Although in a good year yields in excess of 1 100 kg/ha
(1 000 Ib/ac) are common, methods of cultivation largely remain traditional. The
Department of Agriculture has demonstrated that the use of selected, dressed seed at
the correct population and planted, weeded and fertilised at the optimum time can
increase yields by at least 25%; this is now a major field of extension. Improvements
are also necessary in the system of lifting and threshing the crop to improve the quality
and quantity of the kernels and hay.

The commercial production of confectionery groundnuts is confined to the Western

Division. In 1973 a total of 384 ha (950 ac) was grown by members of cooperative
societies under the guidance of the Department of Agriculture; a larger area was grown
by smallholders producing for an agent of the Marketing Board. The bulk of the crop
is composed of the small-kernel led cultivar Philippine Pink and the long-term objective
is to produce 10 000 t (10 000 Igt) of the finished product annually. The market for
large kernels is in the region of 1 0 0 0 1 . In Senegal the return per unit area of confectionery
groundnuts is said to be nearly double that from oilseed groundnuts and the return per
man hour higher. In The Gambia the grower sells his crop unshelled and because the
price differential is small and the confectionery cultivars yield less than the oilseeds,
their adoption is of limited appeal. The possibility of introducing decortication and
kernel selection at village level is therefore to be explored. This, allied to an established
grading system and a distinct buying,season should ensure the success of the project.


It has been shown that late sowing can result in seriously reduced yields, and planting
as soon as the rains become dependable is advised. The optimum plant population is
99 000/ha (40 000/ac). Although farmers are advised to plough their land prior to the
planting of groundnuts (The Gambia Dept. of Agriculture, 1971), this is seldom done.
Satisfactory yields can be obtained even with minimum cultivation such as harrowing
or hoeing, where the fallow cover is limited; on occasion groundnuts may be sown
direct without prior cultivation. Although most sowing is done by dibbling, the use of
an animal drawn seeder has increased in recent years. The crop is still grown both on
the flat and on ridges. Limited experimental evidence (Gambia, Dept. of Agriculture,
Yundum A. Rep. 1957/8, 1962/4) indicates little difference between the two in terms
of yield. Marenah (1970) noted that ridging facilitates better initial weed control,
subsequent interrow cultivations and the lifting of the nuts from dry soil. Flat planting
in lines was said to be more time-consuming but gave a quicker ground cover and
reduced runoff and erosion. It should also result in better utilisation of soil water.
Farmers are advised to plant on the flat in most areas because of the danger of erosion
and root exposure which results from the use of ridges. The only exceptions to this
are poorly drained, heavier soils and steep slopes where contour ridging is necessary
. (Dept. of Agriculture, 1971).

* The advantages of some specific recommended methods for growing this crop are discussed in Part 19.
Input-output analysis and Part 21, Recommendations.


The necessity is recognised of timely weeding in the first half of the crop's growth if
good yields are to be obtained. Because of heavy labour demands at this season the
first two weedings are often delayed. The position has been eased in a minority of
cases by the use of animal-drawn implements. Work by Ashrif (1966) and Hancock
(1974) has shown that the pre-emergent herbicides prometryne, diuron and linuron
control graminaceous weeds. Granular application of fluorodifon has also been promising
but the economics of the practice are considered unattractive.


The production of oiiseed groundnuts for the export trade dominates the cuitivation
of this species in The Gambia. The desirable characteristics of a cultivar for this have
been listed by Hancock (1974) as follows:

1. High yield of pods with an oil content in excess of 50% on a wet weight basis

2. Seed dormancy

3. Maturation period of 110-120 days

4. Erect growth habit with pods grouped round the tap root

5. Disease and drought resistant

6. High hay yield

In 1964 a Senegal selection, 28-206, which met most of these criteria and had a potential
yield of over 2 200 kg/ha (2 000 Ib/ac) was recommended and since then has become the
major cultivar in the western part of the country. In the east the GOMB cultivar, a
spreading type, continues to predominate. In spite of a considerable programme of
cultivar experiments, during which material from Ghana, India, Nigeria, Senegal,
Swaziland and the United States of America has been tested, no superior cultivar has
been identified. In the continuation of the programme the work on drought-resistent
cultivars in progress in Senegal (Bockelee-Morven et el., 1974) could be significant.

The agronomic criteria for edible groundnuts would be similar to those for oilseeds.
Buying standards have been laid down and require the following maximum levels for
groundnuts in shell and shelled groundnuts (in brackets where applicable) respectively:
moisture content 12% (8%); level of living insects 0(0); level of dead insects 10/kg
(10/kg); discoloured pods 1%; damaged pods 1%; foreign matter 1% (1%) by wt.
Shelled groundnuts are also required to have less than 2% of either broken or damaged
kernels and to have an acceptable ounce count (that is the number of kernels per ounce).
The most commonly grown cultivar of confectionery groundnuts is Philippine Pink,
a selection from an importation of Philippine Red made in the 1920s. It is a 90-day
cultivar of the Spanish form with small kernels. Because of its short maturation period
it is popular with farmers who believed it could be planted after their other crops.
Recent work though has shown that late planting can lead to severely reduced yields
due to increased attack of rosette and seedling blight disease. The American cultivar,
Georgia hybrid 119-20, has yielded well in experimental plots in The Gambia and is the
recommended cultivar for Sine Saloum, Senegal, but it has not been accepted by Gambian
farmers because of the low yields they obtained with it; this may be due to a susceptibi-
lity to seedling blight which might be overcome by careful seed selection and dressing.
Although the cultivar has been adversely affected by the shorter wet seasons experienced
in recent years, which has led to a high proportion of poor quality shrivelled nuts,
Georgia hybrid remains the most promising of the large-kernel led cultivars.


In a total of 16 experiments carried out under a variety of conditions between 1961 and
1970, the application of single superphosphate at 113 kg/ha (100 Ib/ac) gave significant

and economic increases in the yield of pods over a no-fertiliser treatment. Yield
increases ranged from 222 to 850 kg/ha (198-758 Ib/ac) with a mean of 419 kg/ha
(374 Ib/ac). In percentage terms the range was from 8-57% with 12 of the 16 lying
between 12% and 30%. An application of 224 kg/ha (200 Ib/ac) failed in the majority
of cases to increase yields significantly above the level of the lower application rate.
A limited number of experiments comparing single superphosphate with triple
superphosphate supplying the same quantity of phosphorus indicated no significant
difference between the two sources; it is thus the phosphorus rather than the sulphur
which is considered to be beneficial. In other trials, Ashrif (1965) also found no need
for sulphur. It is assumed that nitrogen is adequately supplied by the natural nodulation
of the plant but the application of nitrogen in the early stages of growth before
nodulation might be effective and would be worth testing. Response to potassium has
only been recorded on an atypical soil, but Marenah (1975) has pointed out the need
for further work on this nutrient. Trials on the applicationof calcium asground limestone
or gypsum indicated no increase in yields of pods or hay although on occasion the
shelling percentage was increased. From a recent study it has been concluded that no
yield response is obtained to boron (no tests were made on quality) and that
molybdenum may depress the yield of pods (Marenah and Hancock ,1974). The present
recommendation for fertilising groundnuts is to apply 112 kg/ha (100 Ib/ac) of single
superphosphate at the time of first weeding, 10 days after sowing. This supplies
8.8 kg/ha (7.9 Ib/ac) of phosphorus. Pre-planting application might be preferable but
has not been introduced because of the heavy labour requirements at that time and also
because of a prejudice held against it by farmers who earlier used a Senegalese NPK
mixture; applied pre-planting, this was found to result in increased weed growth.
Further, an experiment laid down in 1964 and repeated in 1965 indicated that post-
planting application did not reduce the efficacy of the application (The Gambia,
Dept. of Agriculture, Yundum A. Rep. 1965/6). If the development of an animal-drawn
combined seeder-fertiliser is successful, fertiliser applications at sowing time will be


Pre-harvest pests of groundnuts have not been a serious problem in recent years. The
major pest is the aphid, Aphis craccivora,which is the vector of the virus disease causing
chlorotic rosette. Termites may either attack the growing plant and cause wilting or -
scarify the pods, thus facilitating the entry of Aspergillus flavus or causing loss of
kernels at harvest. The recorded species of termite are Microtermes sp., Ancistrotermes
crucifer and Microcerotermes spp. Minor pests include Diacrisia scortilis, the leaf
hopper Cicadulina arachidis, millipedes (especially on the large podded confectionery
cultivar) and the leaf worm Spodoptera littora/is. Baboons and warthog can also cause
substantial localised damage about harvesting time.

Post-harvest pest infestation has been a matter for concern. Twenty years ago Hall
(1954) assessed the average damage caused by insects t o harvested pods at 5% of the
total crop which amounted to a weight loss of 3% annually. As a consequence of this
finding, decorticating plants were set up and the export of undecorticated nuts ceased.
The principal cause of the damage was the groundnut seed beetle, Caryedon serratus.
Its ecology, biology and control have subsequently been studied by Green (1959,
1960a, 1960b), Rhynehart (1960), Friendship (1971) and Conway (1973b). This work
has established that the primary hosts of the beetle in The Gambia are the leguminous
tree Piliostigma thonningii, P. reticulatus, Tamarindus indica and also Cassia sieberiana
and Prosopis africana. From this source the beetle oviposits on the groundnut pods drying
in the fields after lifting. Adults appear 7-9 weeks later. Infestation from other sources
is negligible. Therefore a single insecticidal application should give cheap and adequate
control both for trade and seed pods if properly carried out. This became compulsory at
all licensed buying points and Village Seed Stores (VSS). However early recommendations
were found to be unsatisfactory and Friendship (1971) calculated that 2.7% of the crop
was damaged in the three seasons from 1968/9 to 1970/1. Current recommendations for
the use of malathion (2% dust) at 10 p.p.m. are believed to be cheap, simple and effective
but widespread failure to apply them in 1974 led to 24% (13 7301, 12 455 Igt) of the crop
received at Kaur being declared substandard owing to insect infestation. Because of the
higher quality requirements of confectionery groundnuts and the likelihood of a

relatively higher incidence of C. serratus(because the crop is lifted and subject to attack
before the oilseed crop) early threshing followed by drying in the compound may be
worthwhile. The rust-red flour beetle is a pest of stock-piled decorticated groundnuts.

Chlorotic rosette, caused by a virus, is considered to be the most serious disease,

although its incidence has been only limited, in the recent drier years. From the
inception of the Department of Agriculture in 1924, work has been done on the
identification of rosette resistant cultivars. Although the currently recommended oil-
seed cultivar, 28-206, and the confectionery cultivar are susceptible, it is known that
incidence of the disease can be kept down by early planting with the optimum plant
population, the destruction of diseased material and volunteer plants and the use of

Cercospora leafspot (Mycosphaerella berkelyii (Cercospora personata)) is common but

was not thought to be serious; the cultivar 28-206 has some resistance to the disease.
In spite of this, recent trials have indicated that substantial increases in the yield of
pods and hay can be achieved with fungicidal spraying (benomyl) and further
investigations to confirm this and assess the economics are in progress. Seedling blight
caused by Aspergillus niger was serious throughout the country in 1973, resulting in
reduced establishment and yields; the confectionery cultivar Georgia hybrid 119-20
appeared to be particularly susceptible. The incidence could be reduced by greater
attention to seed selection and dressing and by ensuring the correct depth of sowing.
Gilman (1965) showed that the soil-borne fungal diseases caused by Macrophomina
phaseolina and Botryodiplodia theobroma could attack not only the roots and stems
but also the pegs and pods. The incidence of the resulting black kernels would not be
evident until they were split. In recent years the incidence of the disease has been very
limited. Removal of the pods from the haulms soon after lifting and drying in cribs
reduced the incidence of black and mouldy nuts to 20% compared with traditional
methods (Friendship, 1971). In 1962 it was discovered that toxic substances,
aflatoxins, could be produced by certain strains of Aspergillus flavus growing on ground-
nut products. These aflatoxins were poisonous to domestic animals and might have
carcinogenic properties in man. In consequence, importing countries imposed conditions
of entry requiring certification of the level of toxicity. To meet these conditions
decorticated trade groundnuts are sampled regularly for aflatoxins (and also for insect
and mould infestation, oil content, free fatty acids and admixture contents). To
reduce the incidence of A. flavus both on groundnuts intended for export and those
for home consumption, recommendations are being made on the handling of the crop
at harvest time. A continuing problem in the international market however is the
acceptance of a universal method of sampling and testing for aflatoxins and the
recognition of what may be regarded as an acceptable level of infestation.

Oil palm (Elaeis guineensis)

Wild oil palms occur in a scattered distribution in The Gambia, particularly in the
western areas. Fruit from these palms is used for the production of palm oil and kernel
oil and some kernels are exported; in 1973/4 this trade amounted to 1 386 t (1 364 Igt).
Hill (1969) calculated that kernels comprise 12% of bunch weight and palm oil 4%.
On this basis, assuming a 50% extraction efficiency, the production of oil for local use
associated with the exported kernels would have been 231 t (227 Igt).

There have been several attempts to introduce improved palms. For example in 1931,
seed was imported from Nigeria with a view to distributing seedlings to farmers (The
Gambia Dept. of Agriculture A. Rep. 1931). In 1948 a trial planting of NIFOR
(Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research) EWS (Extension Work Seed) palms was made
at Abuko and during the 1960s demonstration plots and village cooperative plantations
were established. The growth and production of these and wild palms were assessed
during a study of the possibility of oil palm cultivation in Western Division carried out
in 1965/6 (Hill, 1969). It was found that growth and yield were poor compared with
those achieved in established oil palm areas. Hill tabulated the major environmental
conditions found in The Gambia and compared them with the optimum (Table 28);
he found that total annual rainfall, relative humidity from November to May, the
length of the dry season, minimum temperatures, the clay content of the soil, the

moisture balance and depth of watertable were all suboptimal. Almost all the major
environmental factors were unfavourable. In 1970 a former director of the Nigerian
Institute noted that the oil palm was able to survive where the watertable is not too
low because of its xerophytic leaves but leaf and female inflorescence production
would be very low. For the production of palm oil the climate of The Gambia was
quite unsuitable and plantations would not be economic (Hartley, in Ovens et al.,

Sesame (Sesamum indicum)

Following a series of cultivar trials which had started in 1925, a scheme was started
in 1929 to replace groundnuts as an export crop .with sesame. In addition to diversify-
ing the economy it was also argued in favour of the change that sesame was insensitive
to season and could therefore be used as a catch crop after an early cereal and that,
if sown thickly, it would not require weeding (The Gambia Dept. of Agriculture
A. Rep. 1929-31). The project was short-lived and was abandoned because of the
collapse of the market (in France), (Dept. of Agriculture A. Rep. 1931). A limited
experimental programme was carried out between 1956 and 1968 but the highest yield
recorded was 436 kg/ha (389 Ib/ac). Occasionally, small areas of the crop are sown
by farmers but if an alternative oilseed to groundnuts was sought soya beans would be
more likely to prove suitable.

TABLE 28 Comparison of environmental conditions in The Gambia with optimum conditions for oil palm growth.

Factor Optimum The Gambia,

(Surre and Ziller, 1963) Western Division

Rainfall mm 1 800-2 200 1 327

in 71-87 52

Relative humidity % More than 75 More than 75

June to Oct. only

Length of dry season

in months Not more than 3 7

Temperature mean ° C 25.0-28.0 25.6

mean ° F 77.0-82.4 78.0

min.°C 18.0 7.8

min. ° F 64.4 46.0

Bright sunshine h/a More than 1 500 2 000

Soil (a) depth Not less than 1 m (3 ft) Seldom less than 1 m (3 ft)
(b) texture 25-30% clay; less than Many surface horizons
10% clay is unsuitable with less than 10% clay
(c) K content 0.15-0.20 meq% Generally 0.05 meq%
(d) Ratio, M g : K a n d C a : K Greater than 2:1 Greater than 2:1

Moisture balance * R + P>E R + P<E

Distance from surface Not more than 3 m (10 ft) More than 3 m (10 ft) for
to watertable all except hydromorphic

Waterlogging No standing water No standing water except

in some hydromorphic

*R = soil moisture reserve, P = rainfall, E = evapotranspiration

Soyabean (Glycine max)

The products of soyabean have a wide range of uses which can be exploited both on a
large scale for commercial purposes, where it is the most important source of vegetable
oil in the world, and also at farm level for the needs of home and stock. It has been
claimed that the quality of soyabean protein is the highest of the vegetable proteins
and is comparable to that of beef and that soya milk is comparable in terms of protein
to cow's milk (Thio, 1971). The plant can also be used for hay, silage and as a cover
crop. It is not currently grown in The Gambia but an experimental programme on it
began in 1972. Hancock (1974) has listed the desirable characteristics of a cultivar as
a maturation period of 90-100 days, short (80 cm, 30 in) erect plant type, producing
1 700-2 250 kg/ha (1 500-2 000 Ib/ac) of seed with a high oil and protein content.
Preliminary screening has identified several cultivars which appear to meet the criteria
but it was noted that the crop was particularly susceptible to attack by leaf-eating
insects and Crawshay's hare.

The international unit with primary responsibility for soya bean is the University of
Illinois International Soybean Program (INTSOY) who have advised on the cultivars
to be tested under the environmental conditions in The Gambia.


CassavaiManihot esculenta)

Cassava has been grown in The Gambia for at least 200 years (Jones, 1959). Today it
is largely planted as a compound crop for domestic consumption. An attempt in the
early 1970s to extend the crop in Upper River Division failed. This was attributed to
poor husbandry, particularly a failure to weed and fence the crop and a propensity to
lift it too early (Verdellen, 1972). This result may have been due to priority being
given to other crops and also a lack of any feeling of involvement in this communal
scheme. More recently in the Kombos there was renewed interest in cassava as a cash
crop as the result of an extension campaign in 1973, which resulted in the planting of
120 ha (300 ac). However, the total area under the crop remains less than 800 ha
(2 000ac).

Cassava appears to grow and yield well in spite of the fact that the country is near the
northern limit (15°N) for the optimum growth of a short day plant. The rainfall
distribution, which is concentrated over only 4-5 months, is also suboptimal. In
spite of this it has been estimated that an average yield of not less than 12.5 t/ha
(5 lgt/ac) can be expected if current recommendations are followed and yields of up
to 43 t/ha (17 lgt/ac) of fresh tubers have been achieved. These recommendations
include (a) planting on the ridge as soon as possible after the onset of the rains, using
successively the three recommended cultivars at a stand of 9 000 plants/ha (3 630/ac),
(b) applying 370 kg/ha (330 Ib/ac) of a compound fertiliser (12 :5.2 :14 :1.2 NPKMg)
at 4-6 weeks, (c) ensuring the area is kept clean-weeded and (d) lifting the crop in June
to December of the following year.

In an analysis of 30 samples received from a commercial source in 1968/9 the highest

carbohydrate content was recorded as 25% on a wet weight basis, but levels of up to
35% are thought to have been attained at other times.

Coursey (1974) noted 12-20 cultivars but three predominate. One, White, is a sweet,
short season cultivar maturing in 10-12 months. The other two, Gari (or Sierra Leone)
and Chouda, are bitter, red, long season cultivars maturing in 12-18 months. Because of
the increasing interest in the crop, further work on cultivars is planned. This will aim
to identify cultivars with a high-yielding capacity in respect of tubers, carbohydrate
and protein, resistance to mosaic disease, low cyanogenesis and improved tuber
characteristics. The work in this field at the International Institute of Tropical
Agriculture, Nigeria, will be of great relevance.


Optimum levels of fertiliser application for cassava in The Gambia have yet to be
established. The only recorded fertiliser experiment found a significant response in
yield to the application of either 47 kg/ha (42 lb/ac)N or 112 kg/ha (100 Ib/ac) K
but not to applications of phosphorus. The cultivar was a long season bitter red and
the range of yields was from 26 to 34 t/ha (10.3 to 13.7 lgt/ac).


Since 1972 the virus disease African mosaic, transmitted by Bemisia sp., has become
widespread, but is not yet seriously affecting yields.

The development of cassava as a cash crop requires a more certain market than that
offered in the past by Senegalese traders, although this has on occasion given excellent
returns to the grower. In the late 1960s a gari factory was established near Banjul which
was shown to be capable of producing a satisfactory product at a good conversion ratio
(4:1 at 10% moisture). The economics of production though are marginal. The plant
was said to have a capacity of over 10 000 t/a — though on its actual performance of
2 t/hr (2 lgt/hr) this would require t w o 8-hour shifts for 300 days per year. To achieve
the production to satisfy this capacity would require the annual planting of 500 ha
(1 240 ac) within a reasonable distance (24 km, 15 mi) of the factory. Because much
of the crop is in the ground for 15-18 months, the total area under cassava in the
second half of the year would be substantially higher than this. For the farmer,cassava
has the advantages that it is easy to establish, yields more calories per unit input of
labour than probably any other crop (Coursey and Haynes, 1970), is tolerant of
drought and low fertility, requires no part of its edible product for further reproduction
and long season cultivars can be left in the ground after maturity, if necessary for
long periods, without deterioration. Also, recent work by the Tropical Products
Institute on the curing and storage of fresh tubers, with a system similar to the clamps
used for potatoes in Britain, shows promise of identifying a system of storing lifted
tubers for several months instead of the current few days. By coming to maturity
during the rainy season it can also be used as a hungry gap food. The drawback of the
crop is seen to be that its labour demands coincide with those of other crops and
might therefore have to be grown at the expense of one of these. It is also essential
to fence it to keep out domestic stock during the dry season, otherwise the crop may
be destroyed.

There is a good market in Europe for cassava pellets but economic production would
require a producer price of only D.8-15 per ton which would be unacceptable to
growers (Artis ef a/., 1975). Further, if an annual production of 25 000-30 0 0 0 1 is
taken as a minimum and 100 000-120 000 t as the optimum, the area required to be
planted annually for this purpose alone would be 1 375 ha (3 400 ac) and 5 500 ha
(13 600 ac) respectively. Sun-dried chips of good quality and colour could be produced.
It is improbable that production could be achieved at an adequate level for export but
the chips could be a useful livestock feed for local use.

Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas)

Sweet potatoes are usually grown as a compound crop. A larger area (4 ha, 10 ac)
grown in 1972/73) was heavily infested with cotton leaf worm, Spodoptera sp.
(Conway, 1973 a).


A number of species of tropical vegetables have been grown traditionally as compound

crops. In recent years, work has been started on the assessment of the possibility of
growing temperate vegetables in the dry season both as import substitutes for local
and tourist consumption and as export crops. Investigations began in 1968 and observa-
tion trials on a considerable number of cultivars of various species have been laid down;
the results of these are discussed below by individual species. Because of the design and

scale of the trials, the yields obtained must be viewed with circumspection when
considering potential commercial yields. Work on other agronomic aspects of production
have not yet been undertaken. For the cultivar experiments, an NPK fertiliser with a
compostion of 12 :5.2 :14.9 was used together, on occasion, with farmyard manure;
other practices followed techniques established elsewhere in similar conditions. The
work so far indicates that onions and tomatoes can yield well and the possibility of
achieving self-sufficiency, at least partially, therefore requires consideration. Of the
six vegetable species listed by Gorin and Michailof (1973) as potentially suitable for
export to Europe from West Africa, fine green beans, brinjal (garden egg), sweet
peppers and tomatoes have shown some promise; there appears to be no report on
cucumber Cucumis sativus; and strawberries have not been tested because their potential
is not considered to be adequate to justify work on them.

In 1971/2, extension work on temperate vegetable growing was started mainly with
women in the western part of the country and has met with a good response. Although
participants at any one site are organised into cooperatives for credit and marketing
purposes, each has his own area of crop usually ten beds of 7m2 (8 yd2) each. For
the 1973/4 season a total of 3 000 people joined 81 official schemes, that is schemes
for which Government guaranteed the marketing arrangements and supplied inputs,
the cost of which was recovered at the time of sale by adjustment of the price. Most
schemes in the western part of the country grew onions, although a few had French
beans and also Irish potatoes. In the east, onions and hot peppers were produced. The
schemes were confined to areas where good quality water was available on site from
shallow wells, three people sharing one well. All watering is done manually by watering
can. The capital requirements for establishing such areas are estimated to be D618/ha
(D250/ac) for fencing, D741/ha (D300/ac ) for wells and D20/ha (D8/ac) for
watering cans.

Temperate vegetables which have been considered include beans, cabbage, carrots,
Irish potatoes, lettuce, onions and tomatoes. Tropical vegetables which may be grown
include African spinach, bottle gourd, brinjal, melon, okra, peppers and roselle. These
are considered severally in the following paragraphs.

The aim of the ongoing extension programme on vegetables and fruit is to achieve, if

1. Import substitution of onions, Irish potatoes and processed vegetables

2. Increased supplies of fresh fruit and vegetables for the local diet and for

3. An enlarged export trade in lime products, cassava, yams and peppers

Beans(Phaseo/us vulgaris)

The aim of the investigational programme on French beans is to identify a cultivar

which is suitable for use as a snap bean (that is the immature bean) both fresh and
processed and as a field bean (the dry ripe seed). Six dwarf cultivars have been tested
since 1970 but none has proved suitable for all three purposes. Primeur has given
satisfactory yields on observation plots and is suitable for snap beans but the dried
seed is small. Canadian Wonder might be suitable for the production of field beans
(The Gambia, Dept. of Agriculture, A. Rep. 1970/1; 1971/2; 1972/3). Because
production is confined to the dry season, produce for the first half of the tourist
season will have to be deep-frozen during the previous season; preliminary trials on
this in 1971/2 were promising. The crop was judged to have sufficient promise to
justify organising five 0.4 ha (1 ac) schemes in Western Division in 1974.

Cabbage(ßrass/ca oleracea var. capitata)

Tindall (1968) notes that although cabbage has a wide tolerance to soil type,
temperature and rainfall, a range of 11°C (20°F) is required between night and day

temperature if high yields are to be achieved. An altitude of 762 m (2 500 ft) or above
is said to be most suitable. Some cultivars however give adequate yields at low altitudes
and observation trials in The Gambia have indicated that the hybrid Jubilee and the
Japanese N-S and K-K might be suitable.

Carrot(Daucus carota L. subsp. sativus)

Observations covering a total of ten cultivars were laid down in the four seasons from
1968/9 to 1971/2. For areas at this altitude (> 30 m, 100 ft) yields appear to be
satisfactory: over four crops, Champion Scarlet Horn gave a mean yield of 20 t/ha
(8.1 lgt/ac) and Early Nantes 18 t/ha (7.1 lgt/ac) from small observation plots
(0.0012 he, 0.003 ac). It was also noted in 1969 that the seven cultivars under test
kept well in the ground for 9 weeks. An assessment of blast freezing in 1972/3 however
was not encouraging and the crop was therefore not included in the 1973/4 programme.

Irish potato(Solanum tuberosum )

It is doubtful whether Irish potatoes could be grown commercially in The Gambia using
currently available cultivars. In 1968/9 observation plots (0.0012 ha, 0.003 ac) of
three cultivars said to be widely grown in Senegal yielded between 3 t/ha (1.2 lgt/ac)
and 7 t/ha (2.8 lgt/ac). The cultivar Kerpandi is considered to be the best one presently

Since 1973 the Department of Agriculture has been collaborating with the Scottish
Plant Breeding Station in an attempt at mass seedling selection in the hope that this may
lead to the identification of a cultivar suitable for Gambian conditions. Clearly such a
cultivar could not be available for commercial use for some years to come.

Lettuce(Z.acft/c3 sativa)

Although lettuce tends not to heart well and also to bolt in such conditions as are
found in The Gambia, some cultivars of the variety capitata (cabbage lettuce) have
indicated promise in observation trials. Great Lakes and Iceberg are tentatively
recommended from the limited information available; Minetto might be better than

Onions (Allium cepa)

Onions are a common item in the diet of people throughout The Gambia and annual
consumption is believed to be in the region of 625 t (615 Igt), but until recently there
was little local production. A programme of investigation and extension is now being
undertaken to ascertain the feasibility of making the coutry self-sufficient in onions
and, at certain seasons, an exporter. Since 1968 a total of 26 cultivars has been tested.
This work has indicated that shorter daylength cultivars are required and three are now
tentatively recommended on the basis of yield and apparent storage qualities: these
are Tropicana, Golden Creole and Red Creole. It is recommended that these should be
sown at intervals between mid-October and the end of November; the seedlings will
then be transplanted to flat beds 6-8 weeks later. Well-rotted organic manure is
recommended for both the nursery and the field together with two applications in
the field of an NPK compound fertiliser (12 :5.2 :14.9) at a rate of 170 kg/ha
(150 Ib/ac) each. (This recommendation is not based on experimental evidence and
would be too low for very heavy yields.) To date little damage has been caused by pests
and diseases other than damping-off, termite attack in poorly cleared areas and fungal
damage following over watering. It is recognised that this position may change with
increased production.

Onions are now largely harvested in the middle of the year and thus a considerable
period of storage would be required to achieve year round sufficiency. The possibility
of identifying cultivars which will do well in other seasons is being investigated but it
is felt that the inclusion of onions at other times of the year may present problems of
labour availability. Vital work on drying, curing and storage of the crop is still in its
very early stage.

The response from farmers to the extension campaign to grow onions in the dry season
has been good. In 1973 the Gambia Cooperative Union bought a total of 100 t of the
crop paying the farmer D7.50 per 25 kg (55 lb) bag. This price was based on the cost
of imported onions. It is considered that each participant could maintain 15 beds of
6.7 m2 (8 yd2) each yielding 20 kg (44 lb) equivalent to 30 t/ha (12 lgt/ac); this would
give a gross return of D90 per participant. In practice the mean gross cash return per
participant varied from D10-42, depending on district. The economics of the schemes,
which gave heavy losses t o Government in 1973 and 1974, are being investigated.

Tomato(Lycopersicon esculentum)

In recent years imports of tomato products have cost on average D230 000 per annum
(Woisterihoime, 1973 a). The principle products have been puree and paste for local
consumption, together with canned whole tomatoes and juice for the hotel trade. There
is also a local trade in fresh fruit.

An investigational programme was started in 1968 and since then 23 cultivars have been
tested. These observation trials have mainly been sown, both direct or in a nursery, on
dates from 23rd October to 5th February. A wet season observation trial sown in June
1970, using two cultivars, gave substantially lower yields (less than 10%) than the same
cultivars produced in the dry season — Amateur yielded only 2.5 t/ha (1 lgt/ac) and
Fireball 5.8 t/ha (2.3 lgt/ac). The cultivars tested have included both medium-tall types
of indeterminate growth and dwarf types. Indicated yields have been satisfactory in the
trials but elsewhere nematodes, including root-knot nematodesifl/Ie/oidogyne spp.),are
believed to depress production. Observations in 1969 and 1970 suggested that liming
the soil to raise the pH approximately one unit to pH 6.5 would also increase the yield
of fruit.

In 1973 Kramer (1973) carried out a series of canning trials on 10 of the cultivars. The
four main products tried were:

1. Juice with 1% salt (also some with sugar or spice)

2. Whole fruit packed in juice

3. Sliced fruit (peeled and unpeeled) in juice

4. Pure'e

It was concluded that the cultivar Little Gem (= Gem F i ) was good for juice, puree or
whole peeled fruit. Earlier work though had shown that the cultivar tended to ripen
unevenly and therefore green stem ends were common. The Israeli cultivar VF.134/34
was suitable for sliced fruit. Other cultivars could be used for processing but were not
notably suitable.

In view of the experience with the crop elsewhere in the WestAfrican region it is
imperative that the economics of production and processing should be carefully studied
before large-scale work is begun.

(The bitter tomato(So/a/7t/A77 incanum is also commonly grown in vegetable plots.)


African spinacbiAmaranthus hybridus)

African spinach grows and seeds well especially in the dry season. It can easily be
established and will tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions. It is ready for
use within 1-2 months. The leaves and the flowers can be used and it is a useful house-
hold vegetable.

Bottle QOurd{Lagenaria siceriana)

Bottle gourds are commonly sown in the compound and often grow up the house onto
the roof. The dry hard shells of the fruits are widely used as domestic utensils.

Brinjal, garden eqglSo/anum melongena)

Brinjal appears to do well throughout the year and is therefore suitable for wet season
production in the vegetable schemes. Work on cultivars has been very limited but has
indicated that fruit of adequate quality for export could be produced (The Gambia,
Dept. of Agriculture, Yundum A. Rep. 1968/9; 1969/70; 1970/1).

Melon ^Cucumis melo)

Melons are currently cultivated on a very limited scale and little information is recorded
on the crop. It is thought that the poor yields often obtained are due to nematodes,
powdery mildew and fruit fly damage.

Okra, ladies finger{Hibiscus esculentus)

Okra grows well in the wet season and is commonly grown. No work appears to have
been done yet on the testing of improved cultivars.

Pepper (Capsicum annuum)

In recent years, work has been done on both sweet peppers and on the more pungent
forms whose dried fruit is chillies. Following limited observations on seven cultivars of
the former from 1970 to 1972, it was noted that cultivar Yolo Wonder B produced a
high percentage of four-lobed fruits with thick fleshy walls, was tobacco mosaic resistant,
cropped over a good period of time and was an excellent export cultivar (The Gambia,
Dept. of Agriculture, Yundum A. Rep. 1971/2). The crop though is little eaten locally.

In 1973/4, following a trial the previous year, it was decided to test the two hot pepper
cultivars Mombasa and Long Red Cayenne in extension schemes in eastern Gambia and
send the produce for assessment on the London market. There is also thought to be a
good local market for this form.

Rose\\e(Hibiscus sabdariffa)

The botanical variety of roselle, sabdariffa, is widely grown on a small scale. This bushy,
branched subshrub produces calyces which can be boiled with sugar to produce sorrel
drink. The young leaves and stalks can be used as a potherb or salad and the seeds can
also be eaten.

Forestry in The Gambia largely consists of the exploitation of woodland and savannah
trees for local use as timber, poles and fuel. This exploitation tends to be destructive
and wasteful and, with a rising population, indigenous wood resources will become
increasingly insufficient unless action is taken. The different aspects of the subject are
discussed below under the headings of local timber industry, exports, imports and
internal trade, the Forestry Division of the Department of Agriculture and its planta-
tions, forest legislation, research, future wood supply and forest policy.


Timber is produced locally by pit-sawyers, the Forestry Division and villagers. The
pit-sawyers use mahogany {Khaya senegalensis)iïor the production of planks by hand.
Openshaw (1973) estimated that their production of sawnwood in 1972/3 was
269 m3 (9 500 f t 3 ) . The only sawmill in the country is run by the Forestry Division at
Nyambai, Western Division. Openshaw recorded that the 1972/3 output was 646 m 3
(22 800 f t 3 ) . Unfortunately the conversion of the Khaya logs is below mill capacity
and the product is very unevenly sawn. The reasons for this appear to be possibly
that the log extraction and transport equipment available to the Division is inadequate
and in poor condition; secondly,the generator which supplies power to the automatic
sharpening equipment is defective, so that saws can only be inadequately sharpened by
hand with a file, and thirdly the main breakdown saw appears to be underpowered
for its purpose. Production by villagers of roughly hewn wood for their own use was
estimated by Openshaw to have amounted to 2 350 m 3 (83 000 f t 3 ) and the boat
building industry at Banjul and Barra used 116 m 3 (4 100 f t 3 ) of hewn wood.

The Forestry Division has set up a useful minor industry manufacturing split wood
fences and packing case wood from Gmelina thinnings.

Very extensive use is made in rural house construction of rhun palm (Borassus aethiopum)
and bambooiOxytenanthera abyssinica).Openshaw estimated the consumption of the
two in 1972/73 as 14 200 m 3 (0.5 million f t 3 ) and 8 500 m 3 (0.3 million f t 3 )
respectively. ManqroveiRhizophora spp.)poles are used in house construction to an
unknown extent.


The natural woodlands of The Gambia do not contain much timber, the trees are
usually short-boled and the species present are not those generally in demand elsewhere.
Thus, although exports probably started several centuries ago (Streets, 1962) the trade
has been sporadic, limited and generally unprofitable (The Gambia Colony Report on
Blue Book 1893-99, 1902, 1903, 1908, 1919). The two species principally concerned
were mahogany and rosewood (almost certainly Khaya senegalensis and Pterocarpus
erinaceus).(\n spite of the early discouraging reports on the species, the timber of the
mahogany can be used satisfactorily; however the trees are too few and too scattered
to support an export industry today.)

Charcoal is said to have been exported for the first time, to the Canary Islands, in
1909. An illegal trade to Senegal was still going on in 1973 but more active measures
are now being taken by the Forestry Inspectorate to prevent this and halt the systematic
felling of Gambian woodlands for a trade which brought no benefits to the country.

Giffard (1967) recorded that thousands of rafters of the rhun pa\m(Borassus aethiopum)
were imported annually into Senegal. This trade also is being suppressed in order to
save the rapidly diminishing stock of palms.


Occasional mention is made of timber imports in the annual reports on the Blue Book
but there is a paucity of data because such imports were not liable to import duty.
Openshaw recorded that in 1971/72 The Gambia imported wood products to the
value of D 1.0 m (£200 000). He added that some Government imports and imports
from Senegal were omitted from this total so that the actual import cost would
have been higher. He tabulated in some detail the value of imports of the various forest
products from 1962 to 1972. The picture that clearly emerged from this was that
The Gambia has a large net import of forest products. Openshaw gives a figure of
2 101 m 3 (74 200 f t 3 ) of sawnwood imported in the year July 1972/June 1973.


Traditionally mahogany and rosewood were used locally in the building of boats,
houses and bridges, rhun palms were used as piles in the construction of bridges and
wharves and they and bamboo were also used for house building. Openshaw has
estimated that in 1972/73 the national consumption of local woodland produce was
3 381 m 3 (119 400 f t 3 ) of sawnwood and roughly hewn wood, 34 000 m 3
(1.2 million f t 3 ) of poles, 784 400 m 3 (27.7 million f t 3 ) of wood fuel, 14 200 m 3
(0.5 million f t 3 ) of rhun palm stems and 8 500 m 3 (0.3 million f t 3 ) of bamboo. He
noted that there were supply shortages of bamboo and rhun palm and assumed that
there would therefore be a switch to consumption of poles and sawnwood.


Systematic control of the forest resources of the country began in 1950 when a
resident forestry adviser was appointed and a small Forestry Department was set up.


In its early years the Forestry Department was engaged in creating a forest estate
which led to the gazetting of 66 forest parks (Laws of The Gambia, CAP. 103), with
the following objects of management:

12 rhun palm forests totalling 618 ha (1 527 ac)

14 timber forests totalling 4 104 ha (10 140 ac)
6 bamboo forests totalling 7 068 ha (17 465 ac) and
34 protection forests totalling 22 239 ha (54 953 ac)

The total area under forest parks was thus 34 029 ha (84 085 ac). The names, location
and areas of the parks are listed in Table 29. Following the establishment of these
parks considerable effort was put into the supervision of boundary maintenance, fire
traces and early burning. Subsequently this work was largely handed over to Area

The impression has been growing over the last decade that the pressure on the wood-
lands by clearance for agriculture has greatly increased, that Area Councils have not
been sufficiently diligent in protecting and maintaining the parks and that as a result
considerable encroachment by clearance for farming and by illegal removal of wood
has occurred. It has proved possible to check the extent of farming encroachment up to
January 1972 by using the aerial photographs flown for the LRD project. The detailed
results of this are given in Table 29. From this it will be noted that overall 3 758 ha
(9 300 ac) or 11.1% of the total forest estate has been cleared. In 31 of the parks there
has been little or no encroachment (5% or less) but on 20, encroachment exceeded 15%
and in two instances, Kaiaf (Kiang East) and Njama (Upper Saloum) the forest park has
been completely cleared; serious encroachment was found in three of the four parks in
the Central and Upper Baddibus. A map showing the 66 forest parks and marking the
felled areas has been lodged in the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Banjul.
In addition to the areas felled, further damage has been done by felling individual trees;
this is not readily detectable on aerial photographs at the scale used (1:25 000).

A plantation scheme began in 1959 in the contiguous forest parks of Bamba, Kabafita <
and Nyambai, Western Division. This has resulted in the planting of approximately
890 ha (2 200 ac) consisting mainly of Gmelina arborea with a small area of teak,
Tectona grandis. Experience elsewhere might suggest that the long dry season experienced
in TheGambia would make the climate suboptimal for Gmelina; however growth to
date appears to be satisfactory. It should be noted though that the rainfall in the
Western Division is higher than in most of the country (long-term mean of 1 200 mm
compared with 1 000 mm, 47 in compared with 39 in).

TABLE 29' List of 66 forest parks with areas and extent of encroachment by farming by January 1972: also the areas for possible plantation development

Area of marginal Unsuitable for Extent of

Object of Area si itable Area suitable farming
Division District Forest park Area planting and in need
management* for pla itation for Borassus quality of protection encroachment
ha ac ha ac ha ac ha ac ha ac ha ac
Western Kombo East Finto Manereg 1 012 2 500 T. 1 012 2 500 — —
Katilenge 324 800 T 324 800 • — —

Bamakuno 931 2 300 T,R 6 15 925 2 286 16 40

Kombo Central Nyambai 202 500 T 202 500 — —
Kabafita 243 600 T 243 .600 — —
Furuyar 405 1 000 T 405 1 000 4 10
Kombo South Bamba 389 960 T 389 960 — —
Kombo North Salagi 312 770 R,T 262 647 50 124 40 100
Bijilo 49 120 R 49 121

North Bank Lower Niumi Lohen 95 235 P(T) 95 235 8 20

Upper Niumi Kasaywa 202 500 P(T) 192 474 10 25 2 5
Jokadu Kumadi 283 700 P(T) 283 700 18 45
Lower Baddibu Marike 174 430 P 174 430 8 20
Central Baddibu Dobo 704 1 740 PIT) 450 1 112 254 628 362 895
Jalobiro 59 145 T 59 145 24 60
Upper Baddibu Pakala 1 161 2 868 P 590 1458 571 1411 514 1 270
Ngeyen 612 1 513 P 30 74 552 1 364 30 74 40 100

Lower River Jarra East Sutukung Bani 6 16 R 6 16

Jambangkunda 356 880 P 356 880 63 155
Beri Kolon 1 052 2 600 P(R) 233 576 £119 2 024 )
Tabaning Sita 16 40 R 16 39 ) 192 475
Jarra Central Tambajang 752 1 860 P(R) 12 30 740 1 829 )
Se-Ulumbang 529 1 308 P 56 138 381 941 92 227 235 580
Jarra West Nyanaberi 1 198 2 960 PIT) 200 494 270 667 1 799 219 540
Jabisa 16 40 P(T) 8 20 8 20 14 35
Kiang East Kaiaf 26 65 T 26 65 26 65
Kanowore 67 165 P(T) 25 62 42 104 30 75
Jollif in 439 1 085 PIT) 185 457 254 627 231 570
Kiang Central Mutaro Kunda 809 2 000 P 809 2 000 8 20
Kiang West Brikama 356 880 P 356 880 — —
Faba 567 1 400 T 567 1 400 — —

MacCarthy Island Lower Saloum Belel 405 1 000 405 1 000 2 5

Jumbo Yaka 227 560 PIT) 227 560 2 5
Upper Saloum Njama 22 55 R 22 55 22 55
Njau 364 900 P 30 74 334 825 49 120
Nianija Kahi Badi 1 485 3 670 PIT) 360 890 578 1 428 547 1 351 81 200
Niani Niani Maru 607 1 500 PIT) 310 766 297 734 8 20
Gassang 53 130 T 53 130 6 15
Sibikuroto 36 90 TIR) 36 89 18 45
TABLE 29 (continued)
Unsuitable for Extent of
Object of Area suitable Area suitable Area of marginal planting and in need farming
Division District Forest park Area for Borassus
management* for plantation quality of protection encroachment
ha ac ha ac ha ac ha ac ha ac ha ac

MacCarthy Island Niani Ngongonding 1 250 3 090 P(B) 660 1 631 590 1 458 81 200
Tanu 2 667 6592 P(B) 296 731 2 018 4 987 353 872 484 1 195
Sami Dobo 28 70 R 28 69 8 20
Kata 4 10 R 4 10
Kiberi 389 960 PIT) 162 400 227 561 26 64 164 405
Sambo Tumang 45 110 R 45 111 4 10
Sao F rest 728 1 800 P(B) 45 111 317 783 411 1016 89 220
Fulladu West Bankuba 850 2100 P 850 2100
Kaolong 2 379 5 880 P(T) 108 267 1 669 4 124 602 1 487 16 40
Kunkilling 142 350 T(R) 32 80
Mad i na Demba 2 373 5 864 P(B) 142 350 750 1 853 1623 4 010 6 15
Niamina East N'Jassang 2 347 5 800 P(T) 462 1 142 1058 2 614 827 2 044 176 435
Niamina West Jamara 579 1 430 PIT) 114 282 8 20 457 1 129 95 235
Niamina Dankunku Sikunda 445 1 100 PIT) 231 571 214 529 20 50
Sallo Kuto 3*t 8*t R 3 8 12 30
Pilabi 217 535 T 198 489 19 47 40 100

Upper River Sandu (listed Mamato Konko 431 1 066 P 431 1 066 43 105
in Niamina Sakaru Dalla 261 646 P 233 576 28 69 32 80
Dankunku in Hamdulai 112 276 PIT) 37 91 75 185 18 45
Laws of The
Gambia 1966)
Fulladu East Sibikuroto 138 340 RIT) 138 340
Helakunda 101 250 PIT) 20 49 81 200
Gambisara 308 760 PIT) 27 67 125 309 156 385 4 10
Sabbi 73 180 P 29 72 44 109
Wuli Jeloki 858 2120 PIB) 542 1 339 316 781 156 385
Kantora Jundala 437 1 080 PIB) 142 351 295 729 16 40
Koina 1 3 R 1 3
Kusun 316 780 P 9 22 305 753 22 55

Total areas 34 027 84 085 7 553 18 661 504 1 247 13 312 32 895 12 681 31333 3 760 9 300

* Objects of management are: T, timber; R, rhun palm; B, bamboo; P, protection. Secondary objects of management are in brackets
• »Query on original descriptions of P(R)

t As depicted on the map the area of Sallo Kuto Forest Park is greater
The potential of the soils within forest parks for development can be assessed using
the soil association map accompanying this Study. Soil associations have been placed
in five groups for crop production:

1. Soils unsuited to cropping and in need of protection (Soil Associations

8 , 9 , 14, 15 and 16)

2. Soils marginal for cropping (Soil Associations 3, 10 and 24)

3. Soils suitable for cropping but with limitations because of texture or depth
of surface horizons (Soil Associations 4, 5, 11 and 12)

4. Soils suitable for cropping (Soil Associations 1, 2, 6, 7 and 13)

5. Soils suitable for cropping and irrigation (Soil Associations 17, 18, 19, 20,
2 1 , 22 and 23)

For forestry plantation purposes Groups 3 and 4 have been brought together.Table 29
includes a statement* of areas of soil associations within these groupings. Most of the
encroachment within forest parks is to be found on soils within the last three
categories listed above.


No specific Forest Law exists but provision is made for the protection and manage-
ment of the country's wood resource under Section 6 of the Lands (Provinces) Act
Cap. 103. This law applies to all the territory with the exception of the old colony
area of Kombo St Mary where separate legislation is in use and a system of land
registration is in operation. In all other parts, land is held under traditional communal
systems of ownership based on the family unit.

Section 6 of the Lands (Provinces) Act gives powers to the Government to:

1. Declare any land to be a forest park and to make regulations for its
protection, control and management

2. Prescribe species of trees to be protected in part or all of the provinces and

to prohibit or otherwise regulate their felling, cutting, removal, marking
and injury

3. Prohibit or regulate the sale, or exposure for sale, purchase or export of

any timber, rubber, gum or other forest produce

Under the relevant section referred to in (2) above Khaya senegalensis, Chlorophora
regia and Borassus aethiopum have been declared protected species and it is illegal to
fell them anywhere in the provinces, whether living or dead, without a permit. No
trees may be cut without permit in a forest park but elsewhere trees other than the
protected species can be freely cut for domestic purposes. Felling of trees for trading
purposes requires a permit.

Regulations made under the section of the law referred to in 1. above, relating to
areas of woodland gazetted as forest parks, control the felling of trees, removal of
wood, lighting of fires, cultivation of land, erection of dwelling places, interference
with boundary marks and the collection of minor forest produce including stone,
gravel and sand. An exception is made for dry wood fuel which may be collected
without permit for domestic use but not for sale.

* A map illustrating the location of these soil associations within forest parks has been lodged with the
Ministry of Agriculture.

No legislative provision has been made for the protection of the mangrove vegetation
which is specifically excluded from the provisions of Section 6. With an increasing
demand for wood it may be desirable to correct this omission. There is also no direct
provision in the regulation for the control or regulation of grazing in forest parks and
similar areas.


A series of experiments were set up about 15 years ago to investigate the following:

1. The effect of thinning and pruning Daniellia oliveri

2. The possibility of establishing plantations of Gmelina arborea, Chlorophora

regia and Khaya senega/ensis

3. The feasibility of enrichment planting with Gmelina arborea and Khaya

senegalensis in natural woodland

4. The possibility of establishing Mitragyna ciliata in swamps

It seems that the only encouraging possibility which resulted from these investigations
was the potential use of Gmelina arborea as a plantation species.

Between the years 1958 and 1962 a planting trial consisting of 0.02 ha (0.05 ac)
unreplicated plots containing 25 trees each was established in the Forestry Division
compound at Yundum with the following species:

Acacia albida E. sideroxylon

Albizia lebbeck Gmelina arborea
Azadirachta indica Grevillea robusta
Borassus aethiopum Guazuma ulmifolia
Calophyllum inophyllum Khaya senegalensis
Casuarina equisetifolia Pinus caribaea
Cedrela odorata Tabebuia pentaphylla
Cordia dodecandra Tecoma leucoxylon
Chlorophora regia Tectona grandis
Cordyla africana Terminalia invorensis
Eucalyptus cama/dulensis T. superba
E. citriodora Xylia dolabriformis
E. robusta

No current statistics concerning the performance of these species are available but it
appears that Chlorophora regia, Terminalia superba, Gmelina arborea, Tectona grandis
and Azadirachta indica are showing encouraging results and are well worth further
trial planting over a range of conditions throughout the country. The performance of
Terminalia superba in particular is very impressive and outclasses that of all the other
species in the trial including Gmelina arborea.

No other trial plantings of any significance have been established elsewhere in the
country although Gmelina arborea and Azadirachta indica have in the past been
planted in small plots and as single trees in the grounds of certain agricultural stations
and along roadsides in various parts of the country. Where there has been protection
from fire and other hazards the results are encouraging.

Certain basic information necessary for the planning of future forestry development
is lacking: the following are some of the principal gaps:

1. The potential performance of a range of possible species including

Gmelina arborea for plantation purposes throughout the country

2. The correlation between the growth of G. arborea and site conditions in
existing plantations

3. The rate of growth of the major types of natural woodland including their
reaction to protection from uncontrolled fire, grazing and cutting and their
rate of regrowth following felling

4. The rate of conversion from wood to charcoal for selected species using
improved metal kilns of various patterns by comparison with traditional

5. The present sources of wood fuel and the potential wood and fuel
production from various woodland types

6. The site-quality classes existing in the forest parks and their location
(although the soil associations have been mapped during the survey and
their areas within forest parks have been measured)


No national statement of forest policy has been issued by the Government of The
Gambia but a statement of principles was drawn up by the Forestry Division for its
own guidance a few years ago, as follows:

1. To ensure sufficient supplies of forest produce to meet the internal

requirements of the country

2. To maintain tree growth necessary for the prevention of erosion and

maintenance of soil fertility

The above principles will be secured by:

i. The consolidation, protection and development of forest parks set

aside for forestry

ii. The integration of shelter belts, farm trees, etc., intothe farming pattern
of agricultural land use

3. Pilot schemes for experimental tree planting should be considered in

selected forest reserve areas in each Division

4. Emphasis should be placed on the creation of reserves within existing parks

for the artificial regeneration of rhun palms to meet local demands and the
reservation of natural rhun palm stands outside forest parks

5. The possibility of creating fuel plantations to serve Banjul and the nearby
area should be investigated

6. The development of a small pitsawing industry should be encouraged where


7. The Forestry Division will encourage and assist sound forestry practice by
District Authorities and private enterprise although it is accepted that the
control of forest policy and operations with financial liability must remain
the responsibility of central Government


Projections made by Openshaw (1973) indicate that total wood consumption will rise
from 877 900 m 3 (31 million f t 3 ) in 1973 to 1 132 8 0 0 m 3 (40 million f t 3 ) in 1985 '
and 1 585 920 m 3 (56 million f t 3 ) in the year 2000. It is estimated that 90% of the
total wood consumed at the present time is used for fuel and that in the year 2000
this percentage will be marginally reduced to 83%. It has also been estimated that in
the future the existing woodlands will only be capable of sustaining 75% of their
current output of wood. If these projections are correct a total overall deficit of about
849 600 m 3 (30 million f t 3 ) in locally produced wood will result by the end of the
millennium. If this deficit is to be made good from local sources it will be necessary to
undertake a programme to plant 40 500 ha (100 000 ac) of fast growing species.

The 1973 population census (Gibril, 1973) has shown that the size of the population
is greater than that used in Openshaw's estimates. On the basis of the population
increase projected in the census report, revised estimates of wood consumption would
be 1 251 400 m 3 (44.2 million f t 3 ) by 1985 and either 1 783 700 m 3 (63.0 mHlionft 3 )
or 1 992 800 m 3 (70.4 million f t 3 ) in 2000. The projections for the year 2000 are
based respectively on an assumed reduction in the fertility rate and a continuation at
the present rate. Openshaw's estimated deficit and the planting programme to meet it
would thus have to be increased proportionately.

It should however be borne in mind that Openshaw's projection is based on a pilot

survey carried out in the months of May to July 1973; seasonal variations,
particularly in fuel consumption, could not be fully assessed. Further, although
figures obtained were notably consistent throughout the country, the size of the
sample was small and Openshaw therefore proposed that the conclusions with regard
to wood-fuel and fencing materials should be confirmed by further work undertaken
by the FAO agricultural census. Thus the figures of 1.44 m 3 (51 f t 3 ) , 1.33 m 3
(47 f t 3 ) and 1.36 m 3 (48 f t 3 ) for the average urban, rural and national annual wood
fuel consumption per head, respectively, must be regarded as tentative. Further,
consumption of wood fuel varies with the availability of wood. When this is low,
domestic consumption, within broad limits, can adjust accordingly. Thus one finds
that consumption figures for comparable savanna areas in Nigeria are only half those
quoted for The Gambia; it might be expected that per caput demand in The Gambia
could descend towards the Nigerian figure without resulting in undue hardship.

Another assumption which is open to question is that the bulk of the wood fuel
consumed is produced from some 1 670 k m ^ (645 mi^) of the better developed wood-
lands while relatively little is produced from some 2 425 km2 (837 mi^) of low shrub
savanna and post-cultivation woody regrowth or from the 670 k m ^ (258 mi^) of
mangrove. It is difficult to believe that these considerable areas make no appreciable
contribution to the wood fuel supply.

Again no estimate has been made of the large quantities of potential wood fuel which
are discarded and left to rot or to be burned in situ in woodlands and other areas
periodically cultivated in the bush fallow cycle. Although it is known that there are
certain species which are preferred for wood fuel e.g. Pterocarpus erinaceus,
Combretum spp. and Terminalia spp. and some which would be deemed unsuitable even
if shortages were to occur, better use of existing supplies would be possible. The
assumption that in future the natural woodlands will only be able to supply a
sustained yield of 75% of their present output is also open to doubt.

It is equally possible to speculate that wood production, particularly wood fuel,

might be increased beyond the present output if the woodlands could be protected
against uncontrolled burning and if the large quantities of wood which are at present
discarded were to be utilised. On the information available the matter could be argued
either way. Because it appears that locally produced wood in the foreseeable future
will mainly be consumed as wood fuel, it is important that the assumptions referred to
above should be more closely examined. Studies to identify the present sources of
wood fuel and to quantify potential production will therefore be necessary before total
future plantation requirements can be confidently predicted. However, this should not

preclude an assessment of the steps necessary to meet urban needs for fuel and the
overall needs for major forest produce excluding fuel. A tentative programme to meet
the needs is given in Part 21. It must be assumed that the rural population will have to •
continue to be dependent on locally available wood and that a programme of village
fuel lots will therefore be required. These may be in the form of small plantations,
shelter belts or roadside plantings, depending upon the situation within the village. The
method of establishment might be by the government service, or by the community
or by individuals. Encouragement for the latter would require a programme supervised
by an Extension Service. For the urban population the situation with regard to local
wood production could be favourably modified by a change to the use of oil, gas or
some other form of fuel for their domestic and commercial requirements if this were
economically or strategically desirable.

If urban requirements for timber, poles and fuel are to be met from national sources
there is sufficient evidence already to show that Gmelina arborea can probably be
grown successfully throughout most of the country, although potentially better but
untested species may also exist. For fuel production it is likely that Eucalyptus spp.
will prove to be the most productive. The main difficulty will be to find the necessary
additional area of land of suitable quality, for there is no point in embarking on a
large forest plantation programme unless a reasonable return on investment is assured;
the land required for economically viable plantations would undoubtedly be classed
in the medium to good agricultural category. A preliminary assessment on the basis of
soil associations within forest parks has shown that approximately 22% (7 550 ha :
18 660 ac) of the area of forest parks could be used for plantations. It is therefore
possible that other suitable areas outside the forest parks will have to be found for
plantation purposes and the land resource development planning process would be
faced with the problem of deciding between the competing merits of agriculture and
forestry for the land available. There may be areas where pressure for agricultural use
is at present minimal where land could be made available for fast-growing forest
plantations for a period of 20 years or more, e.g. alluvial areas in Upper River Division.
(Gmelina plantations mature in approximately 20-25 years for timber and can sub-
sequently produce one or more coppice crops of fuel wood at about five year intervals).

It is possible, however, that more detailed examination of the situation will reveal that
if effective control can be established over the use of the existing wood resource, the
total plantation requirement for the maintenance of self-sufficiency will be less than
has been suggested.

The increase in the size of the national cattle herd is comparatively recent and has
been accompanied by increasingly widespread ownership of cattle in many sections of
Gambian society. In a sample of 228 compounds selected for the LRD socioeconomic
studies it was recorded that 94 (41%) owned one or more head of cattle. In 1936 the
cattle population of Gambia was less than 40 000; this number had increased to
122 500 in 1951 and in 1974 was estimated to be 280 000. Until February 1968, the
market in Banjul, and possibly a proportion of up-country meat requirements, had
been met by imported cattle and the offtake from the Gambian herd had been
correspondingly small.

Although ownership has been extended, the care of cattle is undertaken by herdsmen,
mainly Fula, who tend the communal herds. Most owners regard their stock primarily
as a form of saving and it is only with considerable reluctance that they dispose of
female animals.

With the current low off-take of animals for sale in relation to the size of the herd it
will be readily appreciated that a very high proportion of the country's fodder
resources are used for maintenance rather than production.

Sheep and goats are believed to number between 200 000 and 300 000 with a ratio of
3:5; they are not widely herded with cattle but are more commonly kept near the
village and are frequently brought into the owner's compound every night; during the
wet season they are taken out and tethered on roadsides and fallow land or herded by
children around the village. In some compounds goats are milked but this does not
seem to be a common practice.

The distribution of improved strains of poultry for egg production and recently for
broiler production has been undertaken by the Livestock Department who also advise
on housing and feeding the birds.


The Livestock Department, formerly the Veterinary Department, of the Ministry of

Agriculture and Natural Resources is responsible for animal health and, since 1974, for
animal production. It provides routine vaccinatjon of young stock against rinderpest
and vaccination against other diseases when these are reported. The Cattle Marketing
Board is staffed and supervised by the Livestock Department.


Hides and skins are collected and marketed by the Gambia Hides Export Co. Ltd.
This work was previously undertaken by the Veterinary Department who continue to
have responsibility for encouraging an improvement in the quality of hides and skins.
Approximately 14 000 hides and 21 000 skins are exported annually.


The herbaceous layer of the different communities is described in the section on

vegetation in this Land Resource Study; the information is summarised here.

Largely as the result of dry season fires and selective grazing, the herbaceous vegetation
throughout much of the central and eastern areas of the country has been reduced on
the uplands to a small number of species; particularly common are Diheteropogon
hagerupii and Pennisetum hordeoides. On newly fallowed areas P. pedicellatum,
Eragrostis tremula, Cenchrus biflorus and relatively unpalatable broad leaved species
such as Borreria sp.. Cassia tora, Hyptis sp., and Acanthospermum hispidum are

In the higher rainfall areas of North Bank Division Beckeropsis uniseta, Andropogon
gayanus, A. tectorum and Rottboellia exaltata occur around the edges of woodland.

A number of distinctive floodplain communities occur in the middle and upper reaches
of the river. A tall-growing herbaceous community in the middle river consists of
Phragmites karka and Echinochloa pyramidalis; these areas are flooded for many
months of the year. In the upper river, the depth and duration of flooding is most
variable and floodplains are often dominated by a single grass; Anadelphia afzeliana
(A. arrecta), Vetivera nigritana, Eragrostis atrovirens and Panicum sp. form extensive
stands in these inundated areas; other grasses occurring around the margin include
Andropogon gayanus var. gayanus, Paspalum sp., Setaria anceps and Schizachyrium sp.


A number of woody species are browsed and provide much needed protein and
phosphorus during the dry season. In addition, herdsmen climb and lop certain tree
species, particularly Pterocarpus erinaceus and Faidherbia albida (Acacia albida), for
forage, with the result that in some areas trees are ruthlessly mutilated and even


During the months July to October there is an abundance of natural fodder, although
herdsmen complain that not only is upland farming encroaching on their grazing areas
but that farms frequently prevent access to grazing; disputes and litigation over damage
to growing crops occur frequently. The natural grassland during this period adequately
meets the needs of mature stock although young stock will still make substantial
responses to even limited supplementary feeding. By the beginning of November the
grassland is nutritionally unsatisfactory even for adult animals. During the dry season
the national herd depends on crop residues, f loodplain and swamp grazing and
browse; it is, however, difficult to determine the contribution made by each of these.
In the case of crop residues, not only are there large variations in yields but there are
also variations in the extent to which they are utilised; in many districts much of the
most valuable of the crop residues is left lying on the ground and much is lost by
trampling. In the estimates which follow, the calculations are based on dry matter (DM)
content and ignore the all-important question of the nutritive value of these materials;
the cereal residues are of limited usefulness unless stock have access to more
nutritious material such as groundnut haulms, swamp regrowth or browse.

Dry-season fodder resources

Crop residues

Some authorities, e.g. de Leeuw et al. (1972), estimate that the carrying capacity of
crop residues varies, according to the type of farming, from 40 to 150 grazing days per
hectare. Van Raay and de Leeuw (1972), working in Katsina Province of Nigeria, have
determined the average yields of edible residues and digestible protein for sorghum
and millet as shown in Table 30.

TABLE 30 Annual yields of crop residues in Katsina Province, Nigeria

D M , edible material CP, % D M DCP, % D M

Mean (range) Mean (range)
Crop kg/ha Ib/ac

Sorghum 1 700 1 500 2.2 (1.6-4.5) 0.0 (0.0-0.5)

Millet 510 455 9.2 (8.1-10.4) 5.5 (4.0-6.2)

DM=dry matter, CP=crude protein, DCP=digestible crude protein

In Table 31 national yields of crop residues for The Gambia have been estimated and
it has been assumed, perhaps over-optimistically, that 50% of these residues are eaten.

If the dry matter intake of an adult animal is 6 kg (13.2 lb) per day and half the
material is eaten, then crop residues provide 17.7 million grazing days per annum or
150 days per hectare of farmed land. If the dry season is 220 days then these residues
are sufficient for 73 500 adult equivalents.

T A B L E 31 Estimate of annual yields of crop residues in The Gambia

Yield of Total D M
haulm/stover D M x 1 000 0 0 0

kg/ha Ib/ac ha ac kg lb

Groundnut 1 570 1 400 72 800 178 0 0 0 114 251.3

Sorghum 2 800 2 500 12 550 3 0 000 35.1 77.4
Millet 1 680 1 500 19 020 47 000 31.9 70.4
Swamp Rice 2 240 2 000 14 160 35 000 31.5 69.5

118 530 290 000 212.5 468.6

Floodplain grazing

This consists of a variety of communities with DM yields ranging from 300-400 kg/ha
(270-360 Ib/ac) to more than 5 000 kg/ha (4 500 Ib/ac). Floodplains which are burnt
produce a regrowth which has only a small fraction of the DM of the unburnt

It is estimated, from aerial photographs, that there are approximately 48 500 ha

(120 000 ac) of swamp with a good grass cover. As in the case of upland areas,
farming continues to make inroads into these grasslands, sometimes preventing access
to a larger area than is actually farmed. If burning is prevented it is estimated that the
dry season carrying capacity is one adult equivalent to 0.7 ha (1.7 ac) and the flood-
plains afford dry season grazing for 69 000 adult equivalents.

Other dry-season fodders

Other sources of dry season fodder include browse and standing hay mainly from
annual grasses or recently fallowed areas. If the rains cease early and abruptly, these
grasses will cure satisfactorily on the ground. Many of these grassy fallows are
destroyed by fires, sometimes started in order to reduce the hazard to houses and
crops, whilst other areas may be grazed during the wet season.

Very tentatively it is suggested that 70 000 ha (173 000 ac) of young fallows, with a
dry season carrying capacity of 2 ha (5 ac) per adult equivalent would provide grazing
during the dry season for 35 000 adult equivalents.

Total dry season fodder resources

The total resources for the dry season are estimated below (no estimate has been
made of the contribution made by browse).

Source Adult equivalents*

Crop residues 73 500

Floodplain grazing 69 000
Early fallows 35 000
177 500

The size of the national cattle herd in 1974 in adult equivalents was approximately
200 000.

* A n adult equivalent or standard livestock u n i t is taken to be a mature cow of 250 kg (550 lb).

Miscellaneous feeds

Other sources of animal feeds include the by-product of household food preparation
such as brans; these are reserved for horses, work bulls and sometimes sheep, goats and
poultry. Materials from the groundnut mills, the abattoir and slaughtering*slabs are
largely wasted at the present time. The most valuable of the tree fruits, such as the
pods of Parkia biglobosa, are collected for human consumption.

Cotton seed cake and groundnut cake attract such a high price on the world market
that little is used in the countries of their origin.

Watering facilities

In spite of the presence of many perennial streams, watering facilities are not satis-
factory. There is a need for agreement between crop producers and stockmen on access
routes (dappos) to watering points and the provision of hard standing in streams. In
upland areas, more wells away from the villages are needed. Lifting water manually in
order to water stock is an exhausting task and the introduction of powered pumps
could be justified.


The fires which are so frequent between November and March are extremely destructive
and when followed by grazing have been the major factor in the rapid deterioration in
the composition of the grassland. The forester advocates early burning of woodlands in
order to avoid the harmful effects of later fires, particularly when the combustible
herbage represents more than one season's growth. The practice of early burning
(generating new growth) is as harmful to the herbaceous vegetation, unless it is
protected from the grazing animal, as fierce mid-season fires; the forester has only
achieved limited success in the implementation of his policy of early burning.

The damaging effects of early burning arise because the fire stimulates the perennial
grasses to produce new shoots at the expense of reserves in the roots and crown and if
these leaves are subsequently grazed the vigour of the plant is seriously depleted.

Fire as a tool in grassland management should only be used late in the dry season or
early in the rains and then only every third or fourth year; areas to be burnt should be
agreed upon by district councils and their decision must be accepted by the community.
Public cooperation in both preventing and extinguishing accidental fires is essential if
there is to be no further deterioration in the condition of the upland shrub and tree
savanna communities. Accidently burnt areas should not be grazed until the grass is
growing vigorously in the following wet season.


The cattle of The Gambia are generally described as N'Dama, a breed Mason (1969)
describes as 'small humpless type: usually fawn, also light red or dun with a larger type
with longer lyre-shaped horns and shorter type with lyre or crescent horns'. It is
apparent that there has been an introduction of other characteristics into Gambian
cattle; these characteristics appear to have been derived by crossbreeding with Zebu
(Senegal Fulani or Gobra) and the West African dwarf shorthorn types. In spite of
this crossbreeding the Gambian N'Dama is humpless, smaller than the typical Zebu
and possesses a valuable measure of tolerance to trypanosomiasis and to piroplasrriosis.
The distribution of the national herd by districts is shown in Table 32. The 1970 and
1973 cattle sample surveys indicated that the national herd structure in those years
was as shown in Table 33.

PLATES 12 & 1



PLATE 12 N'Dame cattle tethered overnight to fertilise the soil for later crop production

PLATE 13 N'Dame cattle in a trial on final fattening before slaughter

TABLE 32 District areas and stocking level: 1966 census figures projected to 1974*

Area Area per animal

Estimated 1974
cattle population
ha ac ha ac

Kombo St Mary 8 520 21 056 1 230 6.9 17.1

Kombo North 17915 44 268 8 345 2.1 5.3
Kombo South 29 030 71 736 8 140 3.6 8.8
Kombo Central 19 275 47 628 7 775 2.5 6.1
Kombo Eastern 2 5 810 63 784 6 000 4.3 10.6
Foni Brefet 12 340 30 488 3 375 3.7 9.1
Foni Bintang Karenai 29 380 72 604 7 645 3.8 9.4
Foni Ksnsala 13 890 34 316 8 145 1,7 4,2
Foni Bandali 16 500 40 768 3 620 4.5 11.2
Fóni Jarrol 9 765 24 136 2 760 3.5 8.7

Kiang West 70 580 174 412 4 030 17.5 43.2

Kiang Central 15 585 38 508 2 630 5.9 14.6
Kiang Eastern 10 730 26 516 2 850 3.8 9.3
Jarra Western 17 065 42 168 3 675 4.6 11.4
Jarra Central 17 279 42 700 2 430 7.1 17.5
Jarra East 21 655 53 508 5 305 4.0 10.0

Niamina Dankunku 13 0 3 0 32 200. 5 870 2.2 5.4

Niamina Western 14310 35 364 ' 6 485 2.2 5.4
Niamina Eastern 31 690 78 316 6 015 5.3 13.0
Fulladu West 79 055 195 356 26 650 2.9 7.3
MacCarthy Island 1 165 2 884 275 4.2 10.4
Lower Saloum 16 985 41 972 6 220 2.7 6.7
Upper Saloum 27 760 68 600 9 260 3.0 7.4
Nianya 12010 29 680 3 965 3.0 7.4
Niani 4 2 455 104 916 7 860 5.4 13.3
Sami 46 865 115 808 9 140 5.1 12.6
Fulladu East 80 730 199 500 30 720 2.6 6.4
Kantora 33 075 81 732 9 380 3.5 8.7
Sandu 32 9 8 5 81 508 9 575 3.4 8.5
Wuli 53 730 132 776 16 080 3.3 8.2
Lower Niumi 34 920 86 296 10 700 3.2 8.0
Upper Niumi 37 8 6 5 93 576 3 070 12.3 30.4
Jokadu 26 900 66 472 3 100 8.7 21.4
Lower Baddibu 19 385 47 908 4 740 4.1 10.1
Central Baddibu 25 065 61 936 7 630 3.3 8.1
Upper Baddibu 70 295 173 712 16 400 4.2 ' 10.5

'Analysis of land use based on aerial photography flown in January 1972 reveals ntajor changes n the
intensity of cultivation in some Divisions since 1968: it is not known how these c hanges have affected
cattle numbers in individual districts.

TABLE 33 The composition of the national herd

1970 1973
(age in months)


0-12 21 790 21 550

12-24 16 290 1
41 350
24-36 18 345 J
Adult 103 960 122 800


0-12 21 400 19 420

12-24 16 475 1
31 805
24-36 15 255 J
Adults 11 500 16 770
Oxen 17 585 15950

Total 242 600 269 6 4 5

Animals slaughtered (estimate) 14 500 16 200

Since 1968, when the import of slaughter stock was prohibited, the national herd has
supplied the urban and rural populations with meat, provided 7-800 oxen per year,
made good the losses of adult animals, increased the national herd by 4%/a and
produced an estimated 36 370 1 (8 000 gal)/day of milk. However Wolstenholme
(1973) states that the consumption of carcase beef in Banjul and Kombo St Mary fell
from more than 18 kg (40 lb) per head in 1968 t o 10.5 kg (23 lb) in 1973. Rural
consumption is estimated t o be approximately one-fifth of these figures. The overall
consumption of beef was estimated by Wolstenholme to be 3.6 kg per head per
annum (7.9 lb) and by Sinodinos (1974) to be 4.8 kg (10.6 lb). Silverside (1973)
recorded that carcases averaged 120 kg (260 lb) in Banjul: the present national
consumption would therefore appear to be between 15 and 20 000 animals per year.
A continuation of the present level of consumption by a population increasing by
2.8% per annum would require an additional 420 slaughter stock per year. It must in
fact be assumed that potential per caput beef consumption will increase with rising
standards of living. While one must be circumspect in drawing conclusions from the
tentative data available on national herd productivity and the degree of substitution by
sheep and goat meat, it is apparent that, at current levels of production, it will become
increasingly difficult for the national cattle herd to meet the demand which will be
made upon it for oxen and slaughter stock. The demands could be met by increasing
the calving percentage (an increase to 50% would increase possible offtake to 9% from
the current 6%) and by increasing the carcase size.

The mature bull and the mature work bull are the animals preferred by the butcher;
the mature bull class approximately equals the estimated annual off-take. However,
this class includes many small bulls not yet ready for slaughter; some of these animals
will be castrated and enter the work bull class; as replacements they release fully
grown oxen for slaughter.

Cattle in The Gambia are primarily a form of easily realisable savings; they are also
valued as a means of transferring fertility from grazing areas to the arable land and as
a source of milk.

From these data and additional recall data obtained from owners and herdsmen the
following estimates were made:

Calving percentage 41%

Mortality, adult 4%
24-36 months 3%
12-24 months 12%
calves 20%

The calving percentage is believed to vary substantially from year to year but the
mean is only 4 1 % . The offtake for slaughter at 6% is consistent with this low calving
percentage. In recent years there seems to have been a high mortality among adult
females but the cause and extent of this were not ascertained.

The distribution of cattle in the five administrative divisions of the country was
estimated in 1974 to be as follows:

Division Head of cattle

Western 57 035
North Bank 45 640
Lower River 20 920
MacCarthy Island 81 740
Upper River 65 755
Total 271 090

Slightly more than half the herds, which commonly number from 50 to 150 animals,
are owned by a principal owner and several other individuals (Tables 34 and 35) the
former often owning more than half the animals in the herd. A quarter of the herds
are owned either by a single person or jointly by a family unit, usually Fula; slightly
less than a quarter of the herds are owned by several owners, each having a similar
number of animals.

T A B L E 34 Summary of cattle ownership

Herd size and Disposals in Calves in
No. of
ownership previous year previous year Adult
Division owners
Individual Joint Total Sale Gift Total Born Died Gift

Western 15 270 883 1 153 47 6 53 271 83 0 188

Lower River 10 210 432 642 19 7 26 125 11 0 114
MacCarthy Island 13 827 208 1 035 57 27 84 257 42 2 213 49
Upper River 8 426 242 668 39 8 46 151 15 20 116
N o r t h Bank 9 591 106 697 25 3 28 149 37 3 109 11

Total 55 2 224 1 871 4 095 186 51 237 953 188 25 740

Average ownership: personal 4 1 ; j o i n t 3 4 ; total 75.

Four of the owners had larger than average number of cattle.

T A B L E 35 Herd size and ownership b y division

No. of Av. herd Av. no. N o . animals

herds size owners per herd per owner

Western (pt) 9 90 3.0 30

Lower River 10 83 3.4 24
MacCarthy Island 10 75 3.5 21
Upper River 7 115 4.3 27
N o r t h Bank 10 109 9.6 30

National 46 93 3.5 27

The number of animals per individual owner conceals a very skew distributi on, w i t h many
owners having less than 10 animals

Owners of fewer than 30 animals find it impossible to obtain the services of a herds-
man unless they join forces with other owners.

The interest taken by owners in their stock varies from daily inspection when the herd
is conveniently close to the village, to weekly or monthly or even yearly visits; not
infrequently an owner delegates responsibility for his cattle to another person.

The herdsmen or shepherds always receive part of their remuneration in kind, namely
milk, many also receive accommodation and food and an increasing number are paid
an agreed sum of between D1.50 and D1.75 per animal per year. It would seem to be
inevitable that when milk forms the greater part of the herdsman's remuneration the
calf will not receive sufficient.

Cattle are sold to purchase food in seasons of scarcity, also to meet funeral and
wedding expenses, the payment of fines and school fees and occasionally to finance a
pilgrimage. The relatively small number of adult males indicates that not only is there
little resistance to their sale but that a proportion of the animals slaughtered are
immature. In herds of more than 40 animals, herd size does not appear to influence

either the total off-take or the percentage off-take. Owners of fewer than 20 animals
said that they had too few to be able to sell any; this attitude is common in many
African countries and could seriously impede attempts to develop the livestock
industry by encouraging farmers t o acquire small units of breeding stock. There is
evidence that ethnic groups differ in their willingness to dispose of stock (Table 36).

TABLE 36 Percentage rate of disposal of livestock per annum, by ethnic group of owners

Division Fula Jola Mandingo Wollof Serahuli Sorai

Western 3.6 5.5 3.5

Lower River 1.1 (only 4.5
one owner)
MacCarthy Island 11.9 7.7 5.6 (only
one owner)
Upper River 3.9 8.5 8.5
North Bank 2.8 4.3 4.1 (only
one owner)

Average 6.2 5.5 5.2 4.7 8.5 4.1

National rate of disposal 6.1%

i here was enthusiasm among livestock owners for the over-the-scale buying accom-
panied by cash payment.

The overnight kraaling of cattle on the arable farms during the dry season is important
in the maintenance of fertility, although part of the potential benefit is lost through
oxidation and by the practice of collection and burning of dung in order to destroy
weed seeds.

The calf

Bulls run with the cows throughout the year, but because suckling cows on a low plane
of nutrition have heat periods of short duration and the herds are frequently tethered
for 15 or more hours, cows may not be served for many months after calving. Only a
very small proportion of cows conceive during the period they are suckling a calf.

There is some variation in calving. In most districts the majority of calving occurs
during the first months of the dry season (November-December). In the Western
Division and in Kiang Central, and probably in Kiang West, most calving takes place
during the rains. Interestingly, a few of these herds reported a second period of
limited calving at the onset of the dry season. In Upper River Division, most calves
are born during August and September.

Conception can possibly be related to the availability of f loodplain grazing during the
period of January through March and to an abundance of crop residues during October
through December.

The national average calving percentage is 4 1 % , with a calving interval of 29 months.

The conception rate may be higher than the calving percentage; abortions due to
various causes including trypanosomiasis may go unnoticed.

With the exception of some herds in North Bank and Lower River Divisions few calves
are weaned earlier than 12 months and many calves are still suckling at 18 t o 24
months when the calf is often nearly as big as its mother. This extended suckling
protects the immature animal from a nutritionally inadequate diet, but is practised
principally for the benefit of the herdsmen; it results in the long calving interval.

Touchberry (1967) reports average birthweights of 16.5 kg (36 lb), with male calves
1.3 kg (2.8 lb) heavier than female calves. Boston (1973), also working in Sierra Leone,
reports an average birth weight of 20 kg (44 lb). A t Yundum the average birth weight
of female calves is 18.5 kg (41 lb).

During the first week of its life the calf is usually allowed unrestricted access to its
dam and will benefit from the colostrum. After this initial period, the majority of
calves must share the available milk with the herdsman who removes about 1 litre
(two pints) of milk per day from each cow he milks (Table 37). Most herdsmen
remove part of the milk from all four quarters, morning and evening, before the calf
is allowed to suckle; in Upper River Division approximately half the herds are milked
in the morning only. The cow terminates the lactation by driving the calf away and
persistent calves will also be discouraged by the herdsmen, either smearing the udder
with dung or tying two pointed sticks to the calf's muzzle.

TABLE 37 Milk yield per day per cow milked

Division No. cows/heifers No. cows No. calves Yield of milk

> 3 6 months < 1 2 months litres (pints)

Western (part) 335 75 134 0.93 (1.64)

Lower River 381 136* 130* 1.05 (1.85)
MacCarthy Island 370 148* 107* 1.62 (2.85)
Upper River • 341 102 120 1.61 (2.83)
North Bank 521 94 153 1.04 (1.83)

National 1 948 555 644 1.19 (2.1)

"Many cows suckling calves over 12 months and cows still being milked

A calf will be transferred to another cow (nurse cow) on the death of its own mother,
or when its own mother is unable or refuses to suckle it, or for the convenience of the
milker if its mother 'lets down' readily.

The calves do not graze with the constantly moving main herd but are kept tethered
in the mornings until the herd is out of sight, when they are released and remain with
little or no supervision close to the current tethering site. Although one would like to
see water available for the calves, there is little evidence to suggest that they suffer
because of its non-availability.

Calf mortality (birth to 12 months) is approximately 20%, being higher in male calves.
It seems that less care or less milk is given to male animals or that they are more
susceptible to sickness than female calves (Table 38).

The lowest reported calf losses occur in Lower River and Upper River Divisions, the
highest in Western Division. Causes of death in calves include white diarrhoea, shortage
of milk, lack of stamina during periods of heavy rain, predation by hyenas in Lower
Baddibu and killing by village dogs in Western Division. Death through lack of milk is
most common when the milk represents the only remuneration received by the herds-
man; the greatest demand for milk is from urban communities.

Calves are still cut on the face or flank to cure unthriftiness; this practice may localise
some infections but inevitably involves cruelty and reduces the value of the hide.
There is no provision of supplementary food either before or after weaning; there is
no attempt to ensure that calves exercise on clean ground and the general lack of
concern for calves is one of the most unsatisfactory aspects of animal husbandry.

TABLE 38 Percentage disposal: calves born as % total herd: percentage calf mortality

Total* Calf Total

Calves %Calf
Division % disposals mortality mortality
%herd mortality
as % of herd %herd % herdt

Western 4.6 25.2 30.6 7.2

Lower River 4.1 19.4 8.8 1.7
MacCarthy Island 10.1 30.9 16.4 5.0 10.9
Upper River 6.9 22.7 10.0 2.3
North Bank 3.7 21.3 24.8 5.3 6.9'

Total 5.8 23.3 19.7 4.6

'Disposal is not identical with offtake; animals not necessarily killed, may be given away or
sold for breeding.

tInformation only collected during part of survey.

Note: These summaries refer only to herds for which complete data are available.

Growth rate

Most workers including Touchberry (1967) and Montsma (1962) have indicated that
genetic potential of the N'Dama as a producer of both milk and meat is limited.
However, the Gambian N'Dama produces an attractive carcase, even if the rate of
liveweight gain is not high; unfortunately the potential rate of liveweight gain is
rarely achieved and the attainment of mature size is delayed by long periods of no
gain or weight loss between short periods of increases in weight.

After weaning, the pattern of growth in most local herds is for a liveweight gain of
400-450 g (0.88-0.99 lb) per day for approximately 5 months of the year and either
no increase in weight or more frequently a loss of weight during the remaining
months of the year. The result of this performance pattern has been to assume that
the breeds weight gain potential is not more than 180 g (0.4 lb) per day.

Jouve and Letenneur (1971) have shown that adequately fed N'Dama bulls can achieve
a daily liveweight gain of 392 g (0.87 lb) per day from 11 to 23 months. Yundum herd
data confirms that this rate of liveweight gain is attainable whenever nutrition is
adequate. It is of particular interest that Jouve and Letenneus, working in the Ivory
Coast, obtained the best result in their trial from natural pasture improved by the
introduction of Sty/osanthes guyanensis. The liveweight gains recorded in the Yundum
herd are presented in Table 39(a).

Heifers in the Yundum herd are put to the bull on reaching 200-300 kg (440-660 lb)
weight and the average age at first calving is 35 months.

Fully grown male animals reach a liveweight of 340-385 kg (750-850 lb); this is
90 kg (200 lb) more than the average weight of mature females. Attempts at fatten-
ing have had mixed success although Clarke (1970) has shown that suitable animals
will gain 450 g (1 lb) per day for approximately 3 months on a high energy ration.

A trial to investigate the effect of castration at different ages on liveweight gain has
been inconclusive partly as the result of inability to provide sufficient food during the
dry season.

Killing out percentage averaged 50% of the liveweight or 59% of the liveweight less
stomach content.

TABLE 39(a) The effects of sex and age on the liveweight of N'Dama cattle in the Yundum hard

Age (months)

Birth 6 12 18 24 30 36 42 45


kg lb kg lb kg lb kg lb_ kg lb kg lb kg lb kg lb kg lb

Female 18.5 41 101.0 222 132.5 291 174.0 383 196.0 431 242.0 533 245.0 539 255.0 560
Male* 92.7 204 141.0 310 182.0 4 0 0 206.0 4 5 4
Stud built 122.7 270 156.8 3 4 5 235.5 518 256.0 563 327.0 719 339.5 747 395.0 8 6 8 401.5 883

'Includes both entire and castrated animals. Surplus male animals are issued to Mixed Farming Centres or slaughtered at 2-3 years
t Animals selected as stud bulls on the grounds of pedigree and conformation receive preferential feeding

Compensatory growth

The ability of animals to achieve a very rapid increase in liveweight when they are
transferred from a low to a high plane of feeding is widely recognised; unfortunately
there is little precise information about the Gambian N'Dama in respect of compen-
satory liveweight gain.

At Yundum, losses of 23% of liveweight over 2 months have been regained within one
month. A loss and recovery of this magnitude must be largely attributed to changes in
gut content. Losses of weight commonly occur at the beginning of the rains while the
composition of gut flora is adapting to the change in the ingested food. Many workers
suggest that real losses of body weight greater than 10% have an adverse effect on
long term rate of growth and development.

Disease and herd condition

Adult losses are commonly attributed to hunger (a very widespread 'disease'), to

treated or untreated trypanosomiasis, black quarter and haemorrhagic septicaemia.
Adult mortality figures have been collected in MacCarthy Island Division and North
Bank Division and are shown in Table 39(b); although they may not be representative
of the country they equal more than half the offtake of these two Divisions. Many
animals which are unlikely to live are slaughtered and utilised locally. It seems probable
that veterinary staff are not notified of some outbreaks of disease or even of some

TABLE 39(b) Adult deaths* % herd total

Reported by Reported by Combined

owners herdsmen report

MacCarthy Island 5.9 5.0 5.5

North Bank 1.6 2.7 2.3
Two divisions* 3.9 3.5 3.7

'Information only collected in two divisions

Dying animals will be slaughtered and utilised locally

In many herds the poorest classes of stock are the older lactating cows and not
infrequently 2-3 year olds. The condition of the latter can be attributed to a com-
bination of causes. They are dependent on grass which for much of the year is
nutritionally inadequate for immature stock; in the constantly moving herd, older
adults tend to remain at the front and take the most palatable of the herbage.

Professor Maclntyre (in a private discussion) attributed the poor condition of two-
year old animals to trypanosomiasis following a massive tsetse challenge when they
join the main herd for bush grazing.


Animal production depends on the quantity of digestible nutrients consumed;

production includes meat, milk, items such as hides and skins and work. Useful
production is lost when animals are required to expend energy in obtaining food and
water and in the digestion of nutritively poor quality food. In countries with two
well defined seasons, livestock are only able to obtain satisfactory fodder for a limited
period of the year and during this period production is possible; during the other
months of the year fodder is inadequate in either quantity or quality or in both,
animals no longer gain weight and frequently lose weight. The periods of inadequate
nutrition are particularly serious for young stock (under 18 months) and for
lactating cows, but are less serious for mature animals including dry cows. It is unlikely
that it will be possible or economically feasible to prevent some seasonal loss of weight,
but it is desirable to obtain the maximum production when conditions are favourable,
and to minimise losses during unfavourable periods, making greatest provision for
those classes of stock most susceptible to ill-effects from inadequate feeding.

Voluntary intake of food by the animal declines with decreasing digestibility of the
food but correlation coefficients between the digestibility and the intake of tropical
fodder are low. It is believed that intake is associated with the distension of the rumen
and that material of low digestibility results in the rumen remaining distended longer.
A lack of nitrogen (protein) in the food depresses fermentation (one of the stages in
ruminant digestion) and is probably the principal factor for the decline in voluntary
intake of fodder.

In recent years, Elliot and Topps (1963) and Elliot (1967) in Rhodesia have shown
that herbage with only 3.4% CP (crude protein) and 0.5% DCP (digestible crude
protein) will meet the protein maintenance requirement of mature and semi-mature
animals and that herbage of this quality is probably also adequate in energy for
maintenance. These workers calculate that 1.3 g DCP kg metabolic weight is required.
However such herbage is too poor to allow production and is not satisfactory for
young stock without supplementation.

Workers in Africa have investigated the seasonal changes in the chemical composition
of herbage grasses and in areas where rainfall patterns are comparable, changes in
chemical composition are very similar. In Northern Nigeria (1 125 mm, 45 in rainfall)
new growth of the perennial grasses at the beginning of the rains has 8-9% CP, but
the amount of herbage on the ground is not great; two months later the CP content
of the undefoliated herbage has fallen to 5% and at the beginning of the dry season
the mass of tall straw-like material contains 1.5-2.5% CP.

An area subject to grazing maintains a higher percentage of CP but the amount of

herbage present is very much less.

Table 40 shows chemical analysis results of a variety of grasses, crop residues and
other material collected in The Gambia in November. The grass samples from the
upland sites have 2.0-3.6% CP, the hand-picked leaves of bamboo and Andropogon
gayanus contained 11% and 7.75% CP respectively, and it is these richer materials
which are so eagerly sought by stock at this time of the year. The floodplain grasses
showed very great variation in their protein content. Not all the floodplain grasses
are palatable, and herdsmen say that stock will not graze Vetivera nigritana until it is
burnt off and new shoots have appeared. (Eragrostis atrovirens is another common
grass of very low palatability growing in moist sites.)

TABLE 40 Chemical analysis of fodders and other materials

Percentage dry matter

Fodders' and sites
Crude Ether
protein extract

Upland sites 2

Diheteropogon hagerupii 3.44 0.05

Pennisetum hordeoides . 2.06 — —
Andropogon gayanus 3.62 0.06 -
Hyparrhenia sp. 3.13 0.04 —
Ra~tknr. loo,,o,-3
11.0 0.08 —
Hand-plucked green leaves (mainly A. gayanus) 7.75 0.14 —

Swamp and f loodplain

Sporobolus sp. (Katchong) 5.5 0.14 _

Sporobolus sp. (Salikane) 4.0 0.16
Panicum sp. and Anadelphia sp. (Basse) 2.69 0.08 —
Anadelphia afzeliana (Dai) 3.25 0.09 —
Anadelphia afzeliana (Salikani) 6.2 0.12 —
Vetiveria nigritana (Kristi Kunda) 3.44 0.09 —
Schizachyrium sp. (Dankunka) 4.94 0.07 —


Groundnut haulms 8.25

Groundnut leaf (Karantaba) 14.3 0.10 _
Findo (Digitaria exilis) straw 3.0 0.05 —
Findo stubble and annual grasses 3.44 0.05 —
Pterocarpus erinaceus leaves 19.00 0.24 —
Parkia biglobosa pods 8-10 - 4
Acacia albida pods 10 0.23 1.5
Acacia albida leaves 17 — —
Prosopis sp. pods 13 — —
Groundnut dust° 12-15 — —
Whole cotton seed 20-25 — 18

1 Collected in November 4-8 weeks after end of rains

2 Upland grasses at late flowering state
3 Oxytenanthera abyssinica (hand plucked)
4 Of limited palatability
5 A waste product from the groundnut mills includes fragments of nu ts, skins and fibre from inside of
shells; it has been found possible to compress this nmaterial into pell ets

The need to provide young stock, especially recently weaned calves, with supplemen-
tary food is not confined to the dry season. Lee et al. (1959) working in Northern
Nigeria found that a small ration (68-113 g/day, 0.15-0.25 lb/day) of groundnut cake
and bloodmeal given to weaned calves in the second half of the rains resulted in
useful gains in liveweight.

Rations have to be formulated according to the materials available and Clarke (1970)
has provided a guide to the formulation of rations in The Gambia and has indicated
the requirements of different classes of stock, including oxen being used for work.

Phosphorus and calcium are minerals required in greatest quantities; calcium is usually
adequate, but phosphorus deficiency is widespread. Inadequate phosphorus is most
serious for young stock and for lactating animals even though the yield of milk is
low; during periods of severe shortage, blood-phosphate levels are maintained by the
mobilisation of bone phosphate. Naik (1965) working in Tanzania has suggested that
a phosphorus level in herbage below 0.10% of the DM is likely to be inadequate and
that levels between 0.10 and 0.20% may constitute a deficiency depending on the
class of stock. A phosphorus level of 0.18% is considered satisfactory for beef cattle

in U.S.A., and in Australia phosphate levels of 0.21-0.27% are generally recommended.
In Table 40, of the samples analysed for this element, only the leaves of Pterocarpus
erinaceus (keno) and the pods of Acacia albida (baransango) have a phosphate content
better than 0.16%.

Inadequate phosphorus adversely affects the rate of growth to maturity. A trial on

feeding a phosphate supplement (dicalcium phosphate) to pre- and post-parturition
cows, and subsequently to their heifer calves, showed its maximal benefit in the
combined weights of mothers and calves from the third month to weaning at between
7 and 8 months; the calves which continued to receive the supplement had an average
weight 18 kg (40 lb) heavier than the control group and held this advantage through-
out their second year.

Cereal grains are a rich source of phosphorus but their use for animal feeding can
rarely be justified. Proprietary mineral supplements are both expensive and usually
a poor source of phosphate.

The rising population and increased development in The Gambia is obviously resulting
in substantial change to the habitat of wildlife. It is therefore necessary to consider the
effect this is having on the ecological balance and then review what action may need
to be taken. The LRD project included a consultancy on this subject the results of
which were submitted to the Government of The Gambia in 1973 (Parker, 1973). The
recommendations of the consultant were founded on the following principles:

1. The Gambia has subscribed to the New African Conservation Convention

of 1968, which is designed to protect wildlife and related ecosystems; any
plans for conservation, though, must be in the interests of the people and
should not involve any measure which would hinder efforts t o raise the
standards of living in the rural areas; preferably such plans should generate
revenue e.g. through tourism

2. Conservation policies should be flexible to allow for changing circumstances;

they should be based on fact and an appreciation of local sentiments and
aspirations. Their implementation should involve as little space as possible

3. Any conservation plans for The Gambia should be coordinated with those
other countries in the same zoogeographical region, namely Senegal,
Mauretania and Mali

4. As human land use expands, wildlife will become increasingly limited to

animals which are either commensal with or parasitic on man

The following major points relating to the current situation were noted:

1. There is no up-to-date checklist of plants or animals but 67 species of

mammal are either known or could be expected to have been represented in
The Gambia during this century. Of these, ten are extinct: bubal hartebeest,
buffalo, Buffon's kob, chimpanzee, elephant, giant eland, giraffe, hunting
dog and tiang. A further four are probably also extinct: pied colobus, roan
antelope, waterbuck and yellow-backed duiker

2. Of the major vegetative types in the country, only the mangrove swamps and
the barren flats are likely to remain substantially unaltered for a generation
or more to come

3. There is an ordinance for the preservation of wild animals (CAP 194 of
1966) which makes provision for Government control of the killing of wild
animals, the issue of licences for hunting etc., the protection of specific
animals and the control of imports and exports of game animals and trophies

4. Although there is no conservation authority nor national management plan

there is a nature reserve at Abuko, near Banjul. It has been suggested that
this might become an urban park, a proposal at variance with its present
purposes; the objectives of the park therefore require confirmation

5. No information is available on the damage to crops by wildlife but major

mammalian pests are the warthog, baboon, vervet, patas monkeys and
hippopotamus. Major avian pests include various Ploceine species and these
may be increasing in numbers

6. Although firearms are commonly owned, their main use is for pest control in
crops. Game meat appears to form only a small part of the diet in rural areas.
Using Gamble's (1965) figures for Keneba, Parker estimates it to form 18.4%
of all meat consumed excluding small animals; using examples from elsewhere
he argues that although this appears to be very little, it may have sociological
importance beyond its nutrient contribution

7. A proposal has been made to create the district of Kiang West into a national
park(Venuti, 1973). This is an area of 697 km2 (269 mi2) with a population
(1973) of 10 074;the population density of 14/km2 (36 mi2) is the lowest in
the country. It was for this reason, and the related one that more wild animals
were believed to be present, that the area was suggested. Parker questioned the
thesis that it would be possible in practice to regulate the activities of an
inevitably increasing number of farmers in their relation to wildlife

8. Parker lists the names of 305 non-passerine species of birds and 138 endemic
passerine species which should occur in The Gambia. To these could be
added numbers of passerine palearctic migrants which would bring the
number of species that might be sighted in the country to about 550. This
richness and diversity could be a considerable specialised tourist attraction

9. Two large mammalian species which are believed to be threatened with

extinction have their habitat in areas which are unlikely to be subject to
human occupance (rivers, islets, creeks and mangrove swamps). The Gambia
might therefore accept responsibility for their conservation. The two species
are the aquatic antelope, or sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekei) and the African
manatee (Trichechus senegalensis). If this were to be done it would first be
necessary to undertake basic research as very little is known about either

Dasmann (1973) has noted that the Gambian population of sitatunga is isolated and
therefore probably genetically different from other populations; a special effort to
protect it would therefore be justified. To do this it will be necessary to carry out an
initial survey to provide facts on the distribution of the species, the sex ratio and age
structure of the population, its breeding habits, natural predators and level of hunting,
its habitat and food species. From this an estimate of the status of the species can be
made and an assessment of its likelihood of survival and thus the possibility of its

Manatee are apparently widespread but not abundant from the coast to perhaps
Kuntaur. Previously, large herds may have occurred but today they seem to be found
in groups of six or less. They may be taken unintentionally in fishermen's nets and a
few itinerant specialists hunt them deliberately. This is done by placing a bait of grass
on the river bank and harpooning the animal when it rises to take it. The harpoon has
a detachable head to which a float is attached, thus enabling the wounded animals to
be followed and killed. The manatee is listed in the Red Data Book of the International
Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) as a vulnerable

species, seriously depleted throughout most of its range and in need of protective
management. In pursuance of this, it has been proposed that an International Manatee
Research Centre should be established in Guyana (Spurgeon, 1974), with responsibility
for the study of all three species, the Caribbean, Amazonian and African manatees.
Some work on the African manatee has been started in Nigeria but it has been pointed
out that this will be exceedingly difficult because of the aquatic habit of the creature
and the unpleasantness of its natural habitat; furthermore the creature itself is
physically unattractive (Sikes, 1974). Sikes has however recommended that a com-
prehensive survey of the African manatee should be undertaken. She has also suggested
that ranching the manatee in natural or artificial lakes for meat production and as a
tourist attraction might be feasible. Much more needs to be known about the animal
before any conservation plans can be prepared.

Current and potential land use

An analysis of current land use was undertaken by random-point sampling of photo-
mosaics. By marking the boundaries of soil associations on the mosaics prior to the
sampling it was possible to estimate the area of each soil association and the current
land use on them for each of seven geographical regions. As explained in Part I of this
report, these regions comprise the five administrative divisions with the two eastern
divisions (MacCarthy Island and Upper River) further subdivided into north and
south banks.


An earlier exercise, using 1968 photography, had used a stereoscopic examination of

paired photographs to estimate the area of seven physiographic and 17 land use units
for each district of the country, including Dappos but excluding Banjul (Blair Rains,
in Biggs et al., 1971). It was considered to be unnecessary to repeat this work using
later photography. Information was however needed on the area of each soils
association which had been identified by the LRD project and on the current land use
on them. This was therefore undertaken for the entire country excluding the capital
Banjul and the contiguous urbanised district of Kombo St Mary. Aerial photography at
a scale of 1:25 000 had been specially flown for the LRD project in January 1972.
From these, 20 photomosaics were prepared at a scale of 1:50 000 on which the
boundaries of the soil associations were marked. The analysis was carried out by
random-point sampling of these mosaics*.

'The number of points to be examined on each of the photographs of which the mosaic was composed was
estimated using the formula based on the Student's f test which was devised by Alford era/. (1974). This is:

( 1 0 0 - p ) 38 400
Number of points =
p X e* X n

where p - the extent of the smallest category as a percentage

e = the percentage error within which the results can be expected to fall in 95% of cases
n = the number of photographs of which the mosaics were composed
38 400 = a constant based on Student's f taken at 95% level of probability

The random selection of the points to be examined was obtained with the use of a transparent random dot
sampling overlay derived from an area measurement overlay. Each side of the square overlay was 142 mm (5.6 in)
and was divided into 10 sections; each of the square sections thus formed carried a uniform layout of 5 x 5 dots.
From these one or two dots were selected at random so that within each column, vertical or horizontal, there was
a total of 14 dots within the 10 squares. The analysis was then undertaken systematically over each mosaic.
Randomisation of the dot overlay was achieved for any given placement by random selection of its orientation.
That is, the base line could be any of its four sides. The results of the interpretation were punched directly on
cards and these were subsequently processed by a MVSL survey analysis programme on a CDC 6500 computer.

For each point sampled, the soil association, the land use and the geographical region
were recorded.

Soil Associations 1—24

The 24 soil associations and their constituent soil series are described in detail in
Part 10 of this Study. The environmental characteristics of each are summarised in
Table 41.

TABLE 41 Environmental characteristics and major constituent series of the soil associations

Sou KAitexr n A n , t ! t i i a n t 1
Environmental characteristics
association series

1 Crests and mid to upper slopes of interf luves mainly in Western 401*.403*
and North Bank Divisions, intensively cultivated, scattered medium 410
to tall trees, some forest parks and plantations in Western Division
and Kiang West (Lower River Division)

2 Crests and mid to upper slopes of some interfluves, and sometimes 403*, 405*, 407*
forming distinctive north-south orientated slightly elevated ridges, 410
in North Bank Division; intensively cultivated, scattered medium
to tall trees

3 Eroded interfluves commonly promontories projecting into the 203*,207*

floodplain of the River Gambia; disturbed woodland, shrub under- 401,403,405
storey, varies from woody fallow to open woodland

4 Lower slopes of interfluves in Western and North Bank Divisions; 414,415

woodland, including narrow areas of riparian woodland 418,420,425

5 Broad, gently sloping depressions in Western and North Bank 205, 424*
Divisions; woodland, including narrow areas of riparian woodland 427

6 Colluvial slopes; intensively cultivated, scattered medium to tall 4 0 1 * . 403*

trees 414,416

7 Colluvial slopes; intensively cultivated, scattered medium to tall 403*, 405

trees 407

8 Edge of plateau, scarp slope and plateau outliers; disturbed 2 0 1 * , 202*

woodland, shrub understorey, varies from woody fallow to 203, 204, 207
open woodland

9 Strongly dissected valleys; disturbed woodland, shrub under- 201,203,207

storey, varies from woody fallow to open woodland

10 Outer zones of plateau; disturbed woodland, shrub under- 202*, 203*. 205*
storey, varies from woody fallow to open woodland 409,419,423

11 Inner zones of plateau; disturbed woodland, shrub understorey, 203,204,205,417*.

varies from woody fallows to open woodland 419*, 423*. 426*

12 Lower plateau or plateau dipslope, and valley heads; disturbed 203,402*, 403,413
woodland, shrub understorey, varies from woody fallow to 417*, 419*
open woodland

13 Tributary valleys and edge of Gambia River floodplain; Mixed hydromorphic

vegetation varies including (a) riparian thicket, soils
(b) swamp woodland and (c) Mitragyna and/or Acacia
scattered tree savanna; cultivation in some districts

14 Low-lying river floodplain subject to inundation through tidal 300*, 301

fluctuations in water level; vegetation is mangrove but includes
barren areas associated with this

Major constituent
Soil Environmental characteristics

15 Low-lying river floodplain subject to wet-season inundation; 301 \ 302

herbaceous floodplain of variable cover, woody species
sometimes present

16 Low-lying river floodplain subject to wet-season inundation; 301,302'

medium tall grassland

17 Mostly low-lying river floodplain in MacCarthy Island Division; 307 # ,310

medium height grassland, Mitragyna sometimes present

18 Low-lying river floodplain in MacCarthy Island Division; medium- 306,307,308,310

height grassland, Mitragyna sometimes present

19 Slightly elevated terraces or levees of the prior floodplain in 308», 311

MacCarthy Island Division; woodland

20 Elevated terraces or levees of the prior floodplain in MacCarthy 308, 311

Island Division; woodland

21 Back swamps or sloughs in Upper River Division; medium-height 306,307,312,313


22 Slightly elevated terraces of the prior floodplain in Upper River 308,309,313

Division; medium-height grassland

23 Elevated levees of the prior floodplain in Upper River Division Freely drained by
very varied levee

24 Coastal strip 101,102

*Most dominarit series


Land Use Categories 1—4

The four land use categories used are shown below:

1. Cultivated land including plantations, tree lines and oil palms

2. Fallows

3. Uncultivated land; areas showing no evidence of field boundaries or

disturbance to vegetation

4. Non-agricultural use e.g. roads, settlements, streams (excluding the

Gambia river)


Soil associations by geographical region

Table 42 records the area of each soil association within the seven geographical regions.
In estimating the number of points to be sampled it was decided that an accurate
assessment was desired for all units occupying 5% or more of the total area. It is there-
fore necessary to be circumspect in using figures for soil associations occupying less
than this percentage. Further, no allowance has been made for the shape and distribu-
tion of the association although these factors probably affect the accuracy of the
estimate obtained (Alfordef a/., 1974).


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