Kelvin Mukhebi Wafula, Nancy Karanja, George N. Karuku, Anthony O. Esilaba


Background: Crop production in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) is constrained by erratic rainfall and poor soil fertility. Therefore, climate smart agriculture mechanisms such as in-situ rainwater harvesting technologies and recommended fertilizer rates would be vital for ensuring food security. Objective: To evaluate selected in-situ water harvesting technologies and fertilizer rates on soil water content and yield of maize and beans at KALRO Katumani Research Center in Machakos County, Kenya during the 2019 and 2020 short and long rain seasons, respectively. Methodology: The experiment was established in a randomized complete block design with a split-split plot arrangement, replicated three times, with in-situ water harvesting technologies comprising of zai pits, ngolo pits, contour furrows and conventional tillage, as the main plots, whereas the split plots were varying rates of fertilizer inputs: Di-ammonium phosphate (DAP), goat manure and control. The split-split plots comprised of maize and beans cropping systems. Soil moisture content was assessed at 4, 8, 12 and 16 weeks after emergence, whilst nutrient uptake, use efficiency and crop yields at physiological maturity. Data was subjected to analysis of variance. Results: Soil moisture, maize and beans yields, nutrient uptake and use efficiency were significantly (p ≤ 0.05) increased by in-situ water harvesting technologies and fertilizer inputs. Highest soil moisture content was recorded under zai and ngolo pits and lowest in conventional tillage treatments. Ngolo pits recorded higher maize and beans grain yield. Application of DAP fertilizer increased maize and beans grain yield compared to control. Intercropping maize and beans increased grain yield significantly (p ≤ 0.05) compared to sole maize and sole beans. Implications. There is need for promoting a combination of in-situ rainwater harvesting technologies especially ngolo and zai pits with application of DAP+ manure in semi-arid areas where water is scarce coupled with poor soil fertility. Conclusion: Ngolo and zai pits increased soil water retention capacity while application of DAP fertilizer led to increased crop yield and the study therefore recommends their adoption within the study area and extrapolation to areas of similar conditions. 


in-situ water harvesting; ngolo pits; zai pits; nutrients uptake; use efficiency

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