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Keywords:

  • Herbaceous legumes;
  • Calliandra calothyrsus;
  • cattle manure;
  • Leucaena trichandra;
  • Tithonia diversifolia

Abstract

The effect on soil fertility of applying particular organic resources to a humic Nitisol in the central highlands of Kenya was studied. The organic resources (Calliandra calothyrsus, Leucaena trichandra, Tithonia diversifolia, Mucuna pruriens, Crotalaria ochroleuca and cattle manure) were either applied solely or along with inorganic fertilizer in a cropping trial using maize as the experimental crop. After 4 years of continuous cultivation and manuring, soil fertility effects varied among treatments. Cattle manure proved to be the most effective and improved soil fertility by increasing pH, cations (Ca, K and Mg), and C. Calliandra, Leucaena, Tithonia and herbaceous legumes generally reduced soil pH, C and N but increased Ca, K and Mg. Cattle manure is therefore an important resource for maintaining soil organic matter (SOM) in the area and in other similar areas with arable-livestock systems. Reduction of soil C and N by the high quality organic materials suggests that their role in maintaining SOM in the long-term is limited in this area. A sound nutrient management system should strive to make a balance between maximizing crop production and sustaining soil quality.