The impact of soil management


Photo credit: CIAT

Seeing is believing: the impact of soil management


For over a decade, CIAT has tested agronomic and soil management practices in Western Kenya. From minimum tillage to integrated soil fertility management, two trials, established in 2003, are the most comprehensive picture of tropical soil health that we have in Kenya.

What these trials allow us to do is show-case changes in soil fertility and health – for example the impact of conservation measures like minimum tillage, manure application or green manure cover cropping – on soil fertility and crop yields, and what happens if these are absent.

They also enable us to show the impact of cropping systems and rotations, providing farmers with advice about which mix of organic and mineral fertilizers can restore productivity to degraded soils, for example. These are not quick-fixes: they take time to develop, hence the importance of these long-term trials.

Over the years, the trials have been visited by hundreds of farmers, regional stakeholders, and students studying agronomy and soil health practices. They also provide a platform for students to pursue their BSc, MSc or PhD studies, and to dig into some of the fascinating aspects of soil biology and biodiversity.

Read the full story: CIAT

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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