Effect of Integrating Tied ridging, Fertilizers and Cropping Systems on Maize Performance’ in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands of Eastern Kenya
The main cause of food insecurity in the semi–arid parts of Eastern Kenya is decline in soil fertility, unsuitable cropping systems, low and unreliable rainfall. This has led to low food productivity. An experiment was carried out in semi-arid parts of Eastern Kenya during short rains 2014 and long rains 2015 to determine the effect of tied ridges, fertilizers and cropping systems on growth parameters, yields and yield components of maize. The experiment was a 2 x 4 x 2 factorial laid in a randomized complete block design. The results showed that, interaction between tied-ridges x fertilizers x cropping systems had a significant effect (P<0.05) on plant height, number of leaves/plant, leaf length, leaf width and leaf area. Treatment combinations with maize mono crop resulted to increased vegetative growth compared to treatment combinations of maize cow pea intercrop. During the short rains 2014, treatment combinations of flat bed planting, farm yard manure 5t/ha + 20kgN/ha in maize mono crop recorded the highest value for vegetative growth. However, during the long rains 2015, treatment combinations of tied-ridging with 20kgN/ha in maize mono crop had increased vegetative growth. The interaction between tied ridging x fertilizers x cropping system was significant (P < 0.05) on ears weight, biomass and grain yields. The highest value for grain yield was registered by tied ridging with farm yard manure 5t/ha in maize mono crop and tied ridging plus 20kgN/ha in maize mono crop (0.15t/ha); an increase of 650% above the control treatment. Variations in seasonal rainfall affects the effectiveness of soil and water management practices. From this study, farmers in semi-arid regions of Eastern Kenya could adopt farm yard manure 5t/ha or 20kgN/ha with maize mono crop under tied ridging in order to improve maize yields in seasons when the rain fall amount is below average.
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