Determination of Appropriate Rate and Mode of Lime Application on Acid Soils of Western Kenya: Targeting Small Scale Farmers
Okalebo, J. R.
Serrem, C. K.
Mbakaya, D. S.
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Western Kenya is experiencing declining food production as a result of increased soil acidity. Ongoing research in the region has demonstrated the potential of using agricultural lime, inorganic fertilizers, and Minjingu rock phosphates to address soil acidity problem while at the same time promoting food production. Despite this, the use of lime is still low among smallholder farmers due to lack of awareness on its effectiveness, and the best mode of application. This study aimed at comparing the performance of maize under three possible methods of lime application (spot, band, and broadcast methods) and four different rates of application (0, 2, 4, and 6 t/ha). The study was conducted in two target districts, Ugenya and Kakamega North of Western Kenya. The on-farm experiment was laid out in a 3 × 4 factorial in a randomized complete block design (RCBD) with four replications. All treatments received a blanket application of phosphorus (as TSP) and nitrogen (as CAN) at the rate of 26 kg/ha P and 75 kg/ha N. There was a significant increase in grain yield with the application of lime in both districts. Use of any of the methods did not gave significant differences in yield within the district but there was a significant difference between the lime rates used. In overall yield, the broadcast method gave the best results in the two district; whereas the best rate was using the 6 t/ha, this is because of high lime to soil contact. Also it was found that application of 6 t/ha of lime by the spot method lead to a significant decrease in yield compared to the other method using the same rate. This is attributed to overliming effects such as scorching of seedlings, effects on soil structure, and also element toxicities and deficiencies. This was not observed in North Kakamega because of the differences in lime requirements of the two districts. The labor costs per hectare required for the application of lime differed with method, the broadcast method was costly because a farmer was required to incorporate lime in the entire plot, while for the other methods, only the applied areas, i.e., band rows and hills are tilled. Therefore, despite the fact that the broadcast method is expensive in terms of lime application, this method gave the best yield response.