Kenya Agriculture Research Institute Fertiliser Use Manual

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Kenya Agriculture Research Institute
Per capita food production in Kenya has continued to decline in spite of the successful introduction of new crop varieties and associated fertiliser and pesticide packages. Natural disasters, a high incidence of pests and diseases and degradation of the soil resource base have been cited as the main reasons for the decline. Degradation of the soil resource base is directly related to poor land management including land use without installation of appropriate erosion control measures and exportation of nutrients from the farm in plant and animal products without adequate replenishment of the plant nutrients removed. Being resource poor, most small holder farmers in Kenya like their counterparts in sub-Saharan Africa, typically apply negligible amounts of mineral fertilisers, about one-sixth of the world average. So traditionally, soil fertility has been maintained through shifting cultivation, application of organic animal manure and inclusion of grain legumes into cropping systems. However, with a rapidly increasing population, land pressure has increased tremendously in recent decades, and shifting cultivation has given way to continuous cultivation, increased rural to urban migration, subdivision of agricultural land and migration of rural populations from traditionally high potential agricultural areas, to marginal ones. Consequently, policy makers are continuously challenged to find innovative ways to make the country self sufficient in food production, to avert widespread food deficits. One way is to increase the usage of mineral and organic fertilisers for food crop production in small holder farming systems.