KARI-NARL-KSS NO.103 2003 Agronomic Evaluation of Nutrient Status for Favourable Growth of Commercial Aloes around Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Maundi District

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Kenya Agricultural Research Institute
The participatory forest management project (PFM) area is characterized by variable soil types described as coastal uplands soils. This area comprise soils developed on unconsolidated sandy deposits and soils developed on shale rock. Soils developed on unconsolidated sandy deposits range from the common reddish yellow soils which are sandy to loamy and are very deep ferralic arenosols and orthic ferralsols to the common red soils which are loamy to clayey and very deep orthic and rhodic ferralsols. These soils occur to the North of Dida and much of Arabuko-Sokoke forest can be said to stretch over these soils. The red soils are nevertheless of relatively low potential for subsistence farming. Soils developed on shale rock are heavy textured and constitute relatively high potential areas within the PFM project site. These are the common clay or 'black cotton' soils (Vertisols and verto Luvisols and Cambisols with partly lithic phase). The Vertisols, Verto Luvisols and Cambisols are found mainly in Dida around Kahingoni and Kafitsoni in some sections of Sosobora location particularly in Girimacha area. SoilpH around the Arabuko-sokoke forest showed that the soils are strongly acidic. Since most successful Aloe cultivation require a pH range of 5 - 7, some liming might be necessary for farms with pH values lower than this range. Most farms had low soil organic matter and farmers are advised to abandon slash and burn cultivation and stop burning of all forms of organic matter (litter fall, crop residue or grasses) and incorporate these organic residues into the soil to restore soil organic matter pools. For high yield of commercial Aloes farmers are advised to meet all adequate and favourable conditions required in soil fertility restoration. This can be achieved through compensating the deficient nutrients using organic manure inputs and inorganic fertilizers especially potassium which was found to be relatively low as compared to natural Aloe habitats. Contrary to common belief that Aloes grow in poor soils, literature show that Aloes require moderately fertile but fast draining soils. Thus nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium levels should therefore be maintained at ranges of (0.1-2 %), (4-7ppm) and (>200ppm) respectively. If these nutrient management regimes are met with low or no shading and appropriate moisture (at least 2 litres of water per plant per month), most farms adjacent to Arabuko-Sokoke forest can support commercial Aloe cultivation. Although the well-matched farms are to be found in Dida location (Kahingoni, Dida and Kafitsoni villages), with recommendation given in this report other farms would as well support commercial Aloe cultivation.