Efficiency and interactive effects of Tillage Practices, Cropping Systems and Organic Inputs on Soil Moisture Retention in Semi-Arid Yatta Sub-County, Kenya
Ms Chepkemoi Janeth, Dr. Richard N. Onwonga, Dr. George N. Karuku, Dr. Vincent M. Kathumo

The study evaluated the efficiency and interactive of tillage practices, cropping systems and organic inputs (soil moisture conservation techniques) on soil moisture retention in semi-arid Yatta sub-county between October 2012 and February 2013 short rain season (SRS) and March to August 2013 long rain season (LRS). The experiment was laid out in Randomized Complete Block Design with a split-split plot arrangement. Main plots were; tillage practices (TP); Oxen plough (OP), tied ridges (TR) and furrows and ridges (FR). The Split-plots were; cropping systems (CS); mono cropping (MC), intercropping (IC) and crop rotation (CR) while the split-split plots were organic inputs; farmyard manure (FYM), Minjingu Rock Phosphate (MRP), combined MRP and FYM (MRP+FYM) and control. Sorghum and sweet potatoes were grown as intercrops or in rotation with Dolichos (Dolichos lablab) and chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.). Soil samples were taken at 0-30 cm depth at the start of the experiment and maturity of test crops for determination of soil moisture content (expressed as percentage) and efficiency of soil moisture conservation techniques. Significant (p=0.05) increased in soil moisture content was recorded, across deasons, in TR with IC of dolichos and application of FYM (7.53% and 7.88%) for sorghum and sweet potato plots respectively. For enhanced efficiency of soil moisture conservation in the semi-arid Yatta district, TR with an intercrop of dolichos and sorghum and/or dolichos and sweet potato with application of FYM +MRP would be the soil moisture conservation technique of choice.

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