Tillage and Cropping Effects on Soil Water Dynamics and Crop Yields in Mwala District, Kenya
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Soil water conservation through tillage is one of the appropriate ways of reducing soil moisture deficit in rain-fed agriculture. This study evaluated the effects of tillage practices, cropping systems on soil moisture conservation and crop yields in Machakos County in Eastern Kenya during the long rains and short rains of 2012 and 2013. Six tillage practices disc plough (DP) disc plough and harrowing (DPH), 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 moisture content and crop growth parameters were monitored at different weeks after planting. Crop yields at end of each growing season were also measured. A three-season average showed that soil moisture content and crop yields were higher in conventional tillage practices compared to the conservation tillage practices. 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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