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Quantifying Effects Of Selected Soil Fertility Management Techniques On Water Use Efficiency In The Central Highlands Of Kenya

Beryl Etemesi, Felix K. Ngetich, Milka N. Kiboi, Abdi Zeila, Noah Adamtey, Daniel N. Mugendi

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Declining rainfall distribution and variability lead to low soil moisture amounts and high evapotranspiration rates reducing water use efficiency that negatively affects crop productivity. Various soil fertility management techniques have been put in place to improve soil fertility status, but there is little attempt to asses their effects on water use efficiency and grain yields. The overall objective of the study was to quantify the effects of soil fertility management techniques on water use efficiency in the Central Highlands of Kenya. The experiment was laid out in a randomised complete block design with fourteen treatments replicated four times. Treatments were sole mineral fertilizer (Rf), crop residues + mineral fertilizer (RMf), crop residues + mineral fertilizer + animal manure (RMfM), crop residue + Tithonia diversifolia + animal manure (RTiM), crop residue + Tithonia diversifolia + rock phosphate (RTiP). Data on yield and water use efficiency was analysed using statistical analysis systems software version 9.2 at P=0.05. We observed significant (P<.0001) effect of the treatment on biomass water use efficiency during the short rains 2017, however, there was no significant effect of the treatments on grain water use efficiency because of the frequent dry spells that occurred during the study period. Soil fertility management techniques had a significant effect on grain yield at P<.0001 during the study period. Yields increased significantly (P<0001) under Rf, RMf, RMfM RTiM and RTiP by 90, 110, 120, and 176%, respectively. Water use efficiency also increased significantly under Rf, RMf, RMfM RTiM and RTiP by 200, 140, 180, 129, and 176%, respectively compared to the control. From the study, the combination of organic inputs and mineral fertilisers enhanced water use efficiency and yield hence provides a preferred practise for improved water use efficiency and yield increase.