CAES: Enhancing students’ knowledge in land use and management through academic field trips

Academic field trips form an important component in the curriculum of Third Year students of Bachelor of Sciences in Agricultural Land Use and Management. The trips expose students to landscape management challenges and build their capacity in diagnosing field problems common among the farmers. The annual field trip mainly focuses on Land Use Planning, Land Use Impact Assessment and Soil Productivity Assessment. However, other related courses such as soil and water conservation, waste management, soil and water pollution, soil fertility, and pedology are described during the trip. The Master of Science in Soil Science students take lead in the collection of geo-referenced soil samples, soil survey, soil profile description and classification along different landscape positions. At the end, the MSc Soil Science group overlays geo-referenced soil information on to old soil maps, in their field reports.

With support from the University, the Department of Agricultural Production, School of Agricultural Sciences, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) conducts annual field trips for third year students of Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Land Use and Management and Bachelor of Science in Agriculture IV (Soil science option). The Department also conducts field trips for Master of Science in Soil Science and Master of Science in Integrated Watershed Management students. The trip contributes 40% of the total final exam assessment.

In the course of the trips, students are furnished with practical knowledge on: (i) the state of land use as well as soil and water quality on major croplands and catchments; (ii) the impact of land use and land use changes on natural resource quality and social-economic development; (iii) potential drivers of changes in the land use and water resource quality over years and the best management interventions for sustainable use; (iv) rangeland use and management-opportunities and challenges; (v) the processes involved in management of large-scale farms/projects; and (vi) the spatial physical planning approaches, the associated challenges and the possibility for re-planning and restoration of the degraded ecosystems.

The 2020/2021 Field Trip

The trip for the 2020/2021 Academic Year had been planned for Kumi, Soroti, Katakwi and Moroto districts but was re-planned to nearby places due to time constraints caused by the COVID19 lockdown restrictions and insecurity in Karamoja. The trip was conducted in Mpigi, Masaka and Sembabule districts between 8th-13th November with the overall aim of exposing students to the practical challenges and opportunities that exist in the use and management of soil, water and wetlands. This particular study involved characterizing and mapping of selected landscapes using a GPS; studying maps and ground truthing land use changes; making field observations and conducting interactive discussions with local guides and lecturers; soil and water sampling; solid waste sampling; and sediment sampling.

Sub-activities implemented at the different sites included;

Mpigi District

  1. Understanding the land use plan of the National Farmers’ Leadership Centre (NFLC) and how this has supported sustainable land use and integrated agro enterprises (Field crops, horticultural crops, livestock)
  2. Assessing the land uses and technologies at the centre and their impact on the livelihoods of surrounding communities
  • Understanding the entire process of sand mining at Lwera and assessing the impact of this land use activity on the environment
  1. Assessing the major challenges the sand mining company faces in adhering to standards set out of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
  2. Developing a sustainability plan
  3. Assessing the opportunities to the surrounding communities and the country at large

Masaka District

  1. Assessing causes and drivers of wetland degradation
  2. Land Use Planning: presentation of a proposed Land Use Plan for Ecotourism around L.V shores
  • A visit to L. Victoria shores and Lake Nabugabo incl. Ramsar Heritage Sites
  1. Land Use Impact Assessment

Sembabule District

  1. Banana-Coffee Farming Systems: Contrasting well managed and poorly managed
  2. A visit to a model farm: Crop-Livestock integration / Water-Energy-Food Nexus
  • Range lands and their management: Opportunities and Challenges

Key outputs/Key results:

  1. Students were able to develop land use maps of some catchments
  2. Students carried out soil suitability assessment across the visited districts
  • Land management options were proposed by staff and students
  1. The Students collected 50 soil samples and 20 water samples for their special projects
  2. The impact assessment of sand mining at Lwera on the environment was performed and sustainability plan was proposed
  3. Photos were capture and video clips were recorded to aid teaching

The trip was coordinated by Dr Emmanuel Opolot. It was attended by several members of staff from the Department of Agricultural Sciences namely: Assoc Prof Twaha Basamba Ateenyi, Dr Giregon Olupot, Dr Patrick Musinguzi, and Dr Isaac Newton Alou.

Photo credit: Mr. Kasujja

Site-visit-to-assess-soil-degradation-and-soil-sampling-at-one-of-the-murrum-mining-sites-along-Mpigi-Masaka

Group-photo-at-the-National-Farmers-Leadership-Centre-Mpigi
Students-and-staff-at-the-sand-mining-site-to-understand-the-entire-process-and-the-potential-impacts-of-sand-mining-on-the-environment.
A-stop-at-one-of-the-degraded-wetlands-in-Masaka-City
A-farmer-presenting-to-staff-and-students-how-he-uses-A-frame-to-delineate-points-for-construction-of-retention-ditches-and-contour-bunds-for-soil-and-water-conservation


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