Influence of Selected Ecological Farming Practices on Soil Moisture Retention and Yield of Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) and Cassava (Manihot esculanta Crantz) in Semi-Arid Yatta Sub-County, Kenya

  •  N. L. Namoi    
  •  R. N. Onwonga    
  •  G. N. Karuku    
  •  C. M. Onyango    
  •  V. M. Kathumo    


In this study, the influence of ecological farming practices on soil moisture and yield of cassava (Manihot esculanta Crantz) and sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) was investigated. The study was conducted in semi-arid Katangi and Ikombe divisions of Yatta sub-county between October 2010 and August 2012. A randomised complete block design with a split plot arrangement was used. Main plots were three cropping systems: (i) Intercropping; (Dolichos [Lablab purpureus]/Cassava, Dolichos/Sorghum, Pigeon pea [Cajanus cajan (L.) Millsp.]/Sorghum, Pigeon pea/Cassava); (ii) Rotation; Dolichos-Cassava, Dolichos-Sorghum, Pigeon pea-Cassava, Pigeon pea-Sorghum and (iii) Monocrop (pure cassava and sorghum). Split plots were organic inputs; farm yard manure (FYM), compost and absolute control. Sorghum/pigeon pea intercrop+FYM treatment had high moisture levels during short rain season (SRS) of 2010 at Katangi (5.21%), SRS of 2011 at Ikombe (5.19%) and long rain season (LRS) of 2011 at both sites (5.83%, 12.30%). Grain yields were highest under sorghum/dolichos intercrop+ FYM during LRS of 2011 at Katangi (1.36 t ha-1) and Ikombe (1.48 t ha-1), and SRS of 2010 at Katangi (1.39 t ha-1) only. Cassava/dolichos intercrop recorded high soil moisture levels in both sites under sorghum/dolichos intercrop during SRS of 2010 (6.48%, 8.35%), LRS of 2011 (7.63%, 8.77%) and LRS of 2012 (6.41%, 3.65%) for Katangi and Ikombe, respectively. Tuber yields were higher under cassava/pigeon intercrop in Katangi (18.63 t ha-1) and Ikombe (28.73 t ha-1) during SRS of 2010 and LRS of 2011, and SRS of 2011 and LRS of 2012 at Katangi (20.86 t ha-1). Intercropping sorghum with dolichos and cassava with pigeon pea + FYM would be a viable strategy to boost crop yields in smallholder farming systems of Yatta sub-county.

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