Scientific Conference 1994

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Kenya Agricultural Research Insititute
This study tested three hypotheses related to lucerne production as follows: the first was that the current method of lime application at planting leads to low yields; the second was that lucerne growth at the Kitale site was limited by low quantities of nitrogen (N). phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) in the soils; and third one was that soils lo Kitale have sub-soils that are prone to fonning hard pans which limit lucerne growth. Inoculated lucerne seeds were drilled lo rows 30cm apart lo 4x4 m plots located at National Agricultural Research Centre Kitale The time and method of lime application experiments. with four treatments were assigned to the plots as follows No lime application, 5 ton of lime/ha/yr lo ~ split applications 2 ton/ha at planting time and corporation into the soil and 1.5 ton/ha after and 6 months of growth. For the NPK experiments. two levels of N (0 and 60 Kg N/ha/yr). PO and 40 kg P20,/ha/yr. K (0 and 100 kg K/ha/yr were applied to the plots at planting. The influence of breaking up the subsoils and amending the subsoil by adding cow dung manure (CDM), chopped maize stover (CMS) and saw dust to the subsoil were evaluated in 3x2m plots. Methods and time of application of lime had no significant influence on soil pH, nodule count and herbage yield. Application of NAP had no influence on lucerne yield. The mean herbage yield ranged between 5.8 to 7.3 ton/ha/yr Breaking up the soil alone did not influence lucerne yield. Breaking up the subsoil followed by addition of .CDM to the subsoil increased lucerne yield by 79% (from 8.56 to 15.36 ton/ha/yr) In contrast. breaking up the subsoil followed by addition of saw dust reduced lucerne growth by 32% (from 8.56 to 5.84) while addition of CMS had no influence on lucerne yield.