Enhancement of food productivity using leguminous shrubs in the Eastern highlands of Kenya
Mugwe, J. N.
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Declining soil productivity is a major challenge facing smallholder farmers in eastern highlands of Kenya. This decline is caused by continuous cultivation of soils without adequate addition of external inputs in form of manures and fertilizers. A study was initiated in 1992 to evaluate the feasibility of using two leguminous shrubs Calliandria (Calliandra calothyrsus ) and Leucaenia ( Leucaena leucocephala ) for improving soil productivity. The shrubs were evaluated in alley cropping and biomass transfer systems. Over the 11 years of study, calliandra and leucaena biomass transfer with half recommended rate of inorganic fertiliser treatments gave the best average maize yields of 3.2 t ha -1 . On the other hand calliandra alley cropped with prunings removed treatment recorded the lowest maize yield of 1.2 t ha -1 . Though treatments with calliandra biomass transfer had similar yields compared to those of leucaena biomass transfer, all the treatments that were leucaena alley cropped did better than calliandra alley cropped treatments both with prunings incorporated and prunings removed. These long-term results indicate that biomass transfer system of these leguminous shrubs is a more feasible option as opposed to alley cropping in the region.