KARI-ETC-LEI INSMAP REPORT NO.KE 17 SEPT 2005- Evaluation of Organic, Inorganic Fertilizers and Tithonia on Maize Performance in Nitisols of Central Kenya: A farmer Field School Approach

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Kenya Agricultural Research Institute
Ngaita area of Kiambu District in Kenya has not been spared by the declining per capita food production common in sub-Saharan Africa. The main reason for this decline is soil fertility. Decline in soil fertility is as a result of complex interaction between biophysical and social economic factors governing the fanner. Farmers in this area are therefore faced with a dilemma of feeding an ever-increasing population while the land resources are declining and food production therefore inadequate. This challenge calls for a conserted effort from aU stakeholders to tackle the soil fertility decline problem. Improving soil fertility has been identified as an essential micro-level strategy for increasing and sustaining food production in small-holder cropping systems (Sanchez et al; 1997). Further intensification and diversification of land use with high value crops is also advocated. The traditional approaches to soil fertility management range from recurring and occasional use of sub-optimal mineral fertilizer rates to applications of low external input agriculture based on organic sources of nutrients. The appropriateness and efficiency of these monolithic methods is a subject of an on-going debate. Many reports are now increasingly showing that a combined and judicious use of organic and inorganic sources of nutrients holds the key to further soil fertility interventions for increased farm productivity (Nandwa and Bekunda, 1998).