Adoption potential of selected organic resources for improving soil fertility in the central highlands of Kenya
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Soil fertility decline is the major cause of declining crop yields in the central highlands of Kenya and elsewhere within the African continent. This paper reports a study conducted to assess adoption potential of two leguminous trees, two herbaceous legumes, cattle manure, and Tithonia diversifolia either solely applied or combined with inorganic fertilizer, for replenishing soil fertility in the central highlands of Kenya. The study examined biophysical performance, profitability, feasibility and acceptability, and farmers experiences in managing and testing the inputs. The study was based on a series of studies incorporating both sociological and experimental approaches for two and a half years.Results of on farm trials showed that manure ? fertilizer and tithonia ? fertilizer treatments increased yields by more than 100% above the control. These treatments were the most profitable having highest net benefits and benefit cost ratios. They were also the most commonly preferred by farmers who used them on larger plots compared to the other inputs. In conclusion, cattle manure and tithonia were found to be the organic materials with the highest adoption potential for soil fertility improvement in this area. Calliandra calothyrsus and Leucaena trichandra, on the other hand, have potential for use as animal fodder. The herbaceous legumes had the least adoption potential due to poor performance recorded onthe farms that possibly led to low preference by the farmers. However, issues of sustainable seed production could have played a role. This study recommends some policy issues for enhancing adoption and research issues focusing on exploring strategies for increasing biomass production and use efficiency on farms.