Legume Research Network Project (LRNP) Soil Fertility Management Handbook

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Ministry Of Agriculture
An important aspect of smallholder agriculture in Kenya is soil fertility management. Without proper soil fertility management it is velY unlikely for farmers to realise improved crop and livestock performance from their farms . Most rural appraisal exercises conducted to assess constraints to smallholder agriculture in Kenya have identified soil feltility decline as one of ten most important constraints. The rapid increase in human population that Kenya has had in the recent past has led to subdivision of land into tiny units especially in the high potential areas. These small landholdings are continuously cultivated to produce food , energy and income for the household. Inorganic fertilizers are used hy few farmers because of shortage of cash. All these have resulted in severe soil degradation and environmental destruction especially in rural areas \vith low rainfall. Misuse of inorganic fertilizers is another problem that has also contributed to soil degradation. In most cases, farmers use any fertilizers availahle in the market regardless of their suitability for crops being grown or even the existing soil types. Most farmers lack information on appropriate fertilizers for their soils and the crops they grow. They are generally ignorant of prohlems that can arise from misuse of fertilizers. Adoption of appropriate soil management practices can be greatly enhanced if farmers understand and ;Ippreciate what soil is, how it is formed, how it acquires inherent fertility and the processes that cause it to loose fertility.