Field And Laboratory Research Manual For Integrated Soil Fertility Management In Kenya

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Nesbert Mangale
Anne Muriuki
Angela N. Kathuku-Gitonga
Catherine N. Kibunja
James K. Mutegi
Anthony O. Esilaba
Fredrick. O. Ayuke
Simon N. Nguluu
Esther W. Gikonyo
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In Kenya research efforts have generated numerous Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) technologies with potential for increasing food production and rural incomes (Jama et al., 2000; Lekasi et al,. 2001; TSBF, 2005; Salasya, 2005; Ojiem, 2006; AGRA, 2007; Misiko, 2007; Okalebo, et al., 2007; WAC, 2008; FAO, 2009; Rockstrom et al., 2009). However, these technologies have had limited impact on smallholder farmers’ fields. The gap between research and application of ISFM guidelines is wide and evidenced by the low uptake and utilization of recommended ISFM technologies by smallholder farmers. Reasons for this unfortunate scenario include incoherent and conflicting recommendations for ISFM technologies because generators of ISFM technologies and innovations hardly collaborate and/or share their research outputs with each other or with end users. This also results in many inappropriate technology recommendations that confuse target farmers and lower technology adoption. These are the major reasons why farmers have been unable to realize the full benefits of the potential productivity gains possible from growing improved crop varieties, although adoption of these varieties is now widespread in the country (Rukandema, 1984; Omiti et al., 1999). Although it is evident that appropriate use of ISFM can transform agriculture, the level of production with ISFM in Kenya has remained low. Part of the reason for low production ISFM can be traced to poor research. Successful ISFM research with a potential of increasing food production and incomes is best driven by appropriate field and laboratory research methods. In Kenya different laboratories use different methods to analyze for the same elements, often generating varying results for the same soil and plant samples. For example there are more than three methods for determination of soil and plant phosphorus levels used in different laboratories viz: Infra-red spectroscopy (IR), Bray II, Olsen, Mehlich I, II and III and the Truog methods. Recommendations based on the variable results from these methods are difficult to validate for reliability. Often this may lead to confusion and generation of wrong fertilizer recommendations leading to inappropriate use of farm inputs, soil acidification, low crop yields, low adoption, food insecurity and low household incomes. The Kenya Soil Health Consortium (KSHC) has developed this manual of field and laboratory methods through consultation with the major national, regional and international research and learning institutions to guide implementation of agricultural research in Kenya. This protocol highlights among others; the process of research formulation, process of project implementation, field research methodology and approaches, plants-soil sampling and analysis, soil chemical analysis methods, fertilizer recommendation and use efficiency, and data management. The protocol is intended to act as a reference material and as a guide for future agricultural research and development in Kenya. This protocol is of great benefit to a wide range of stakeholders involved in agricultural research, agricultural extension, capacity building, and agricultural policy development.
Mangale et. al, 2016. Field And Laboratory Research Manual for Integrated Soil Fertility Management in Kenya