HARMONIZED FERTILIZER RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PULSES IN SMALLHOLDER FARMING SYSTEMS OF KENYA

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Date
2017-12
Authors
Mangale, N.
Kathuku-Gitonga, A.N.
Esilaba, A.O.
Nyongesa, D.
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KALRO
Abstract
Production of pulses in East Africa dates back many years. The pulses (grain legumes) are beans, cowpeas, pigeon peas, green grams, dolichos lablab, chickpeas and lentils. These crops are grown in the Eastern Africa region in varying hectareage, depending on preferences and adaptation to agro-ecological zones. Cowpeas, chick peas, pigeon peas and green grams are grown in lower, drier and warmer areas. Beans and dolichos are grown in the medium rainfall areas of the region while lentils are grown in the cooler regions (Karanja, 2016). Pulses are grown in both mono-cropping and intercropping systems in Kenya. Most common crop combinations in intercropping systems include: maize-beans, maize cowpea, maize-pigeon pea, maize-Soya bean, maize-dolichoslablab, sorghum cowpea, millet-pulses, sugar cane-pulses and rice-pulses (Chui and Nadar 1984; Nadar 1984; Mangale 1989; Matusso et al., 2012; Karanja, 2016). This cropping practice aims to match efficiently crop demands to the available growth resources and labour. The efficient use of available growth resources in a given piece of land and eventually maximizing productivity is the primary advantage of intercropping crops of different height, canopy structure, rooting ability, and nutrient requirements (Matusso et al., 2012). Many studies on intercropping have shown that legumes-cereal intercropping is an important productive and sustainable system due to its resource facilitation and significantly enhancing crop productivity as compared to that of monoculture crops (Matusso et al., 2014). In an effort to improve food security, intercropping cereals with legumes plays an important role by providing a farmer with both carbohydrates and proteins for their dietary needs. Apart from nutritional composition of component crops in an intercropping, it has been also reported that intercropping improves soil fertility through biological nitrogen fixation, increases soil conservation through greater ground cover than sole cropping (Ofori and Stern, 1987; Matussoet al., 2014; Hailu Gebru, 2015; Nyoki and Ndakidemi 2016), and provides better protection against crop pests and diseases than when grown in monoculture (Ofori and Stern, 1987; Matusso et al., 2014; Hailu Gebru, 2015).
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