World Soil Survey Archive and Catalogue

Welcome to WOSSAC

WOSSAC Material held in the Archive for Swaziland

SwazilandThe WOSSAC catalogue lists almost 160 entries for Swaziland. The collection is especially strong with regard to soil mapping and the systematic land inventories of the territory, which were underway between 1955 and the late 1980s.

The early large systematic surveys were done by George Murdoch and his colleagues in the Department (later Ministry) of Agriculture in the Usutu Basin, 1958 – 1968 (ID 386, ID 387, ID 25721 and ID 22). Murdoch carried out many other surveys in the rest of the country and integrated them into the 1968 publication, The Soils and Land Capability of Swaziland, compiled and published by the Swaziland Ministry of Agriculture, (ID 1907). This benchmark document is a masterful summary of soils and land capability with many tables and accompanying maps. The WOSSAC collection also holds digitised copies of the maps from this survey (ID 37417 and ID 18). This national evaluation was followed in 1972 by the publication of a, Land System Atlas of Swaziland, as part of a commitment by UK Directorate of Military Survey to test the then emerging remote sensing techniques in the evaluation of land.

Since then soil and land resource mapping in Swaziland has benefitted from a number of large systematic and high quality surveys by consultancy companies working on internationally funded development projects. A major part of the WOSSAC collection is taken up with the report on work carried out within irrigation schemes in the Komati Basin, in the 1990s. The reports Review and Feasibility of the Komati River Basin Development, by engineering contactors Alexander Gibb and the natural resource consultants, Hunting Technical Services, is recorded in many monthly reports held within WOSSAC, together with documents on the economics, agriculture, irrigation and land resources. There are also reports for areas in other parts of the Lowveld by Huntings (ID 35035, ID 4430, and 4430), Booker Tate and EPDC.

CDC was heavily involved in forestry and agricultural developments in Swaziland and had its own in-house soil survey, evaluation and management teams. The earliest documents from them that we hold held is a Soil Survey of the Swaziland Irrigation Scheme dating from 1961.

There have been a number of important documents on the assessment of land for other sugar estates, such as Tambankulu and Big Bend, and culminating in a 2006 report (ID 19837) entitled, the Soils of the Swaziland Sugar Industry. This report has been digitised.

During 1965 a number of crop or land use specific documents were published by the Swaziland Department of Agriculture including evaluations for cotton (ID 2629), pineapples (ID 2631), and plantation forestry (ID 2636). A decade later the publication entitled, A Field Guide to the Soils of Swaziland, (ID 298) provides an accessible field description of the main soil types.

Many of the land evaluations completed were undertaken river basin development projects as the mapping units and the collection contains much material on the Usutu basin from the 1960s, the Umbeluzi in the 1970’s and more recently the Komati and Ngavuma Basins from the 1990s.

Loose maps

The collection also holds a few loose topographic maps (scale 1:50,000) of Swaziland: none are of direct pedological interest.


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