A review of land use systems and cause effects relationships between soil properties, nutrient levels and crop yields for improved fertilizer use efficiency under irrigated systems with reference to Mbongoni Scheme, Kenya

Edward M. Muya, A. L. Chek, V. Wasike, V. Kirugia, L. Tanui, L. Wasilwa, H. Goro, Z. G. Mainuri


Most past studies have shown that the use of fertilizers can sustain agricultural production and environmental quality if it is based on the systematic analysis of the level of nutrients in the soil as affected by the soil properties. Soil properties and nutrient deficiency may occur in varying magnitudes under different clusters of soils. The cause-effects relationships between the soil properties such as pH, soil organic carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and bulk density and crop yields under different land use systems have been applied to determine their critical limits for the purpose of evaluating the soil nutrient deficits for various crops. The past research on land resource potentials has come up with the critical limits of these soil quality attributes for some crops as 5.0, 1.08%, 0.2%, 7.6 ppm, 0.83 m.e%, and 1.50 g/cc for soil pH, soil organic carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and bulk density respectively. Within these critical limits, the results from these past studies have been applied to determine the quantity of macro-nutrients required for optimal production of tomatoes, onions and maize, which are commonly grown in Mbongoni Scheme. The results of past studies indicated that the maximum tomato yield obtained, with nitrogen applied between 80 and 250 kg/ha, was 6 tons/ha, while onions and maize were in the range of 10 to 50 tons/ha. The levels of phosphorous required to attain these maxima was found to be 30, 100 and 170 kg/ha for tomatoes, onions and maize respectively, while potassium level required fell between 40 and 120 kg/ha. For these levels of production to be realized in Mbongoni Irrigation Scheme, the values of soil quality attributes and the nutrient levels must be raised slightly above the critical limits by not more than 10% since these limits also serve as the environmental thresholds.


Key words: soil properties, nutrients, thresholds and fertilizer use efficiency

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