Enhancing Soil Water Content for Increased Food Production in Semi-Arid Areas of Kenya Results From an On-Farm Trial in Mwala District, Kenya

  •  Anne Karuma    
  •  Peter Mtakwa    
  •  Nyambilila Amuri    
  •  Charles Gachene    
  •  Patrick Gicheru    


Soil water conservation through tillage is one of the appropriate ways of addressing soil moisture deficit in rainfed agriculture. This study evaluated the effects of tillage practices on soil moisture conservation and crop yields in Mwala District, Eastern Kenya during the long rains (LR) and short rains (SR) of 2012/13. Six tillage systems: Disc plough (MB), Disc plough and harrowing (MBH), Ox-ploughing (OX), Subsoiling – ripping (SR), Hand hoe and Tied Ridges (HTR) and Hand hoe only (H) and, three cropping systems namely, sole maize, sole bean and maize - bean intercrop, were investigated in a split-plot design with four replicates. Data on soil water content was monitored at different weeks after planting and the crop yields at end of each growing season. A three-season average shows that soil water content and crop yields were higher in conventional tillage methods compared to the conservation tillage methods. Long term tillage experiments are thus required at different locations, under various environmental and soil conditions to validate the study findings.

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