Makueni district profile: soil management and conservation, 1989-1998.
Gichuki, F. N
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The investments in soil conservation made by farmers in Makueni District, Kenya over the period 1950-1998, and the policy and institutional framework under which the investments were made are explored. An assessment of the scale and impact of these measures is presented. In general, very few signs of erosion were observed, so the area is considered to have low erosion status. Soil and water conservation measures include the use of crop residues in trash lines, contour ridging, grass strips, fanya juu terraces and cut-off drains. Crop residue management and tillage are the main practices used to facilitate in situ moisture conservation. Most farmers practise contour ridging. Physical soil conservation measures are used to complement cultural practices that conserve rainwater in situ by trapping and preventing further runoff. A key constraint to the expansion of soil and water conservation measures by households is the shortage of hired and family labour. Grazing land has received very little investment because there farmers perceive a low return. In Makueni District farmers have been able to make long-term investments in soil conservation partly because their land tenure was secure. Training and extension in soil and water conservation has been a major external input.