Soil acidity management by farmers in the Kenya Highlands

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Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania.


Declining soil fertility attributed to soil acidity is a major soil productivity problem in sub-Saharan Africa. A study was carried out in nine counties across the Kenya highlands, namely Meru, Embu, Kerugoya, Nyeri, Kiambu, Kinangop, Siaya, Busia and Eldoret, where the problems associated with soil acidity are prominent. The study aimed at assessing farmers' awareness of soil acidity, and establishment of common acidity management practices following administration of structured questionnaires. From the information gathered through personal interviews via questionnaires, <37% of the farmers were attached to a farmers training group in all study sites; among them, <4% were aware of soil acidity problems and <8% had carried out chemical analysis of their soils. The farmers who had applied lime at least once on their farms were <3% in all sites. Most farmers (>80%) used both inorganic fertilizers and manure on their farms, with the majority using DAP, CAN and farmyard manure. On cultural soil fertility management, choice of subsequent crop was dictated by sustainability rather than cropping system like rotation. There was a significant (P<0.05) negative relationship between livestock keeping and soil fertility management, with <30% of the farmers returning crop residues back to the farm. Most of them fed crop residues to their livestock. Only 8% of the farmers incorporated crop residues into the soil. There was a significant (Ps 0.05) positive correlation between education level and inorganic fertilizer use in crop production. Farmer's age and maize yields correlated negatively with each other. Additionally, farmers' training programmes and frequencies positively influenced choice of inorganic fertilizers and levels of application. Training is therefore one of the most significant issues affecting soil fertility management in the Kenya highlands. To further enhance the understanding of soil acidity and fertility management in Kenya highlands, farmers training should be prioritized.


Journal of Agriculture and Ecology Research International 5(3): 1-11, 2016; Article no.JAERI.22519


Inorganic fertilizers, Soil fertility, Soil fertility management, Farmers training, Soil acidity, Kenya Highlands