Characterization Of Smallholder Farm Typologies In Maize-Based Cropping Systems Of Central Kenya: Use Of Local And Technical Soil Quality Indicators

In recent years, integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) paradigm has emerged as the best strategy for different resource-poor smallholders to mitigate problems of food insecurity and poverty. This makes characterisation and evaluation of ISFM technologies under different socio-economic and biophysical farmers’ circumstances imperative. The study examined how local and technical soil quality indicators (LSQI and TSQI) could be used to delineate farmers in maize-based cropping systems of central Kenya into different inter-farm recommendation domains. Depending on levels of organic and inorganic fertilizers, soil conservation structures and depth of tillage, 3 classes of farmer were identified, based on local soil quality indicators. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was employed to validate LSQI- and TSQI-based classification. Results depicted significant (P<0.05) differences in mean % Carbon, % Nitrogen and ppm Phosphorous within and between different classes. Carbon ranged from 1.4% in Kirinyaga to 2.1% in Maragwa, while Nitrogen ranged from 0.06-0.17% in two districts respectively. Kirinyaga had highest Phosphorous levels (649 ppm) while Maragwa had the lowest (45 ppm). This could help develop more targeted ISFM technologies to suit different recommendation domains, for more productivity in smallholder agro-ecosystems.