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Lime, manure and Inorganic Fertilizer Effects on Soil Chemical Properties, Maize Yield and Profitability in Acidic Soils in Central Highlands of Kenya

, M. W. Mucheru-Muna, J. N. Mugwe, K. F. Ngetich, M. N. Kiboi, D. N. Mugendi

Abstract: In Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), acidic soil covers 29% of the total area. About 13% of the Kenyan total land area has acidic soils, widely distributed in croplands of the central and western Kenyan regions. The high soil acidity, coupled with soil nutrient depletion, negatively affects crop productivity in the region. We conducted an on-farm experiment to determine the effect of lime, manure, and phosphatic fertilizer application, either solely or combined, on soil chemical properties, maize yield, and profitability in acidic soils of Tharaka Nithi County, Kenya. The treatments were different rates of manure, lime, and P fertilizer. The experiment was designed as a randomized complete block design replicated ten times in farmer’s fields. Soil sampling was done at a depth of 0-20 cm prior to the start of the experiment, after crop harvest of SR2016 and LR2017 seasons. The samples were analyzed in the laboratory following standard methods. Results showed that lime significantly increased soil pH by 10.6% during the SR2016 and by 17.7% during the LR2017. Similarly, treatments with lime reduced exchangeable acidity and increased soil available P. Treatments with inorganic fertilizers had significantly higher maize grain yield in comparison with treatments with the sole application of lime, manure, and lime + manure. Lime + fertilizer + manure treatment gave the highest average maize grain yield (5.1 t ha−1), while control gave the lowest (1.5 t ha−1) during the LR2017 season. Economic returns were low due to the prevailing low rainfall experienced during the study period during the SR2016 season. Lime combined with inorganic fertilizer treatment recorded the highest returns (128.75 USD ha-1) followed by sole inorganic fertilizer (105.94 USD ha-1) during the LR2017 season. The study recommends a combination of both lime and inorganic fertilizer for enhanced maize production and profitability in Tharaka-Nithi County, Kenya.
Keywords: treatments / soil / manure / lime / fertilizer / inorganic / Tharaka Nithi County

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