Preliminary Report on Biophysical Characterisation of DMF and AOP Project Sites Report NO.67

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Ogara Z.
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Ministry of Agriculture
The fieldwork started from 2615105 to 22/6/05 for the DMP and AOP project areas in Matsabit district. The participants were: E. M. Muya, J. K. Lelon, K. Gitau and Z. Ogara. The objective of the study was to collect baseline data on biophysical characteristics for efficient use and management of scarce water and nutrient resources of DMP and AOP project areas. This was achieved by systematic soil and topographical surveys; identification and description of representative soil profiles; field measurements of soil physical properties and sampling of soil and water for laboratory analysis. Based on field measurements and observations, it was found that most of the research areas have compact soils, high surface sealing and restricted infiltration. In addition, these areas have low, unreliable and unpredictable single rainfall regime, hence poor plant performance. Although low rainfall amounts and poor distribution cause poor plant performance, low water uptake and retention capacity of most soils as well as inappropriate management practices also playa signiflCallt role. In Kalacha irrigation scheme, there has been a continuous decline in crop yield to an extent that most farmers have abandoned their field and reverted to alternative activities. In Logologo, high evaporation rate and limited water storage within the root zones cause severe desiccation, hence poor plant performance in microcatchments. Although reasonably g plant performance has been observed in Laisamis, non-uniformity of the performance in the same field is the major concern. This is opposed to Sereolipi, where the main problem is poor plant performance and severe physical degradation, affecting almost half of block 2 and 3.