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International Journal of Agricultural Research
Year: 2008  |  Volume: 3  |  Issue: 3  |  Page No.: 166 - 187

Manure and Soil Fertility Management in Sub-Humid and Semi-Arid Farming Systems of Sub-Saharan Africa: Experiences from Kenya

D.D. Onduru, P. Snijders, F.N. Muchena, B. Wouters, A. De Jager, L. Gachimbi and G.N. Gachini    

Abstract: A study was conducted in the sub-humid Kiambu and in the semi-arid Mbeere districts of Kenya to determine smallholder farmers` manure management practices and quantity and quality of on-farm available manure under different livestock management systems. Data collected from 60 smallholder farmers identified manure management practices to be variable and poor irrespective of management system. The quality of cattle manure in the open grazing systems of Mbeere was poorer (1.22% N; 0.09% P; 2.14% K) and of higher  variability than manures from zero-grazing systems of Kiambu (1.41% N; 0.53% P; 1.54% K) where animals are supplied with high quality feed supplements. We calculated the potential manure production to be 3.1 and 0.7 tonnes DM year<SUP>-1</SUP> farm<SUP>-1</SUP> for Kiambu and Mbeere, respectively. Faced with low manure availability, farmers adopted manure management strategies that included accumulation in livestock pens and or removal from livestock pens and storing over time before spatial and temporal application to selected crops and plots in a rotational pattern. In both study sites, the sole application of manure or inorganic fertilizers proved limited in providing a comprehensive solution to crop nutrient supply. Given this limitation and the differential farmer resource endowments in sub-humid and semi-arid study sites, appropriate strategies for improving manure storage, quantity and quality, efficient manure use and application methods and integrated soil fertility management need to be developed, separately for each livestock management system, to enhance crop nutrient supply.

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