Tillage system and integrated soil fertility inputs improve smallholder farmers’ soil fertility and maize productivity in the Central Highlands of Kenya

Erick Oduor Otieno, Felix Kipchirchir Ngetich, Milka N. Kiboi, Anne Muriuki, Noah Njiru Adamtey


We designed and implemented an on-farm trial in Meru South and Gatanga sub-counties to understand the effects of integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) technologies on soil nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), and maize productivity. The technologies included combinations of mineral fertiliser and maize stover (CrMf); crop residue, Tithonia diversifolia and rock phosphate (CrTiP); crop residue, Tithonia diversifolia and goat manure (CrTiMan); crop residue, inorganic fertiliser and goat manure (CrMfMan); crop residue, goat manure and Dolichos lablab (CrManLeg), and sole inorganic fertiliser (Mf) executed under conventional (ConC) and minimum (MinTill) tillage methods. We interviewed the farmers who participated in implementing the trials at the end of the study to understand the likelihood to uptake the technologies. We observed that the technologies increased soil N, P, K, and maize productivity compared to ConC (the control). There was a high likelihood of uptake of high-performing ISFM technologies. We recommend CrTiP for the two sub-counties for the short-term. However, a long-term experiment is needed to evaluate performances of CrTiMan, CrTiP, CrMfMan, and CrManLeg under the two tillage methods for site-specific recommendations taking into consideration rainfall variations.


Crop productivity, Maize yield, Nitisols, Tithonia diversifolia

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17170/kobra-202107134319

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