Exploring potential of tillage methods on combating mid-season drought in soybean in West Kenya

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My name is John Okoth, a MSc student at Edgerton University-Kenya funded through a N2Africa scholarship. I have just completed my field research looking at potential of tillage methods on combating mid-season drought in soybean in West Kenya. In this part of the country, midseason drought is contributing to a greater reduction in yields of most crops. Cereals and grain legumes are most affected crops when drought sets in the middle of the season. Availability of irrigation water and irrigation technologies are limited and unaffordable to smallholder famers, hence the need to develop appropriate soil-water conservation technologies among which, is tillage methods.

For two seasons (long and short rains growing seasons of 2011), I conducted experiments to assess the potential of two tillage methods (conventional tillage and no till) on soil moisture availability, yield and yield components of three soybean varieties in three agro-ecological zones of West Kenya namely, the Lake Basin, Midlands and Upper Midland. Results indicate that in sandy soils no till leads to higher amounts of water in the soil during dry spells compared to till practice. This affect positively the soybean plants when drought occurs at vegetative growth stage of the crop result to increased biomass accumulation especially of the medium and short maturing soybean varieties. However, the general trend is that soybean grain yields is higher when planted on tilled compared with no till fields because tillage provide good soil tilth, that enhances good establishment of small seeded crops including soybean. I am continuing with data analysis and results will be reported in my thesis which is due in August, 2012.

John Okoth