Tillage and vegetative barrier effects on soil conservation and short-term economic benefits in the Central Kenya highlands
Guto, S. N.
de Ridder, N.
Giller, K. E.
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Integrating vegetative soil erosion barriers with minimum tillage practices can be an economically viable method in reducing soil loss in intensively managed sloping land in the East African Highlands. This study sought to compare minimum and regular tillage practices with and without vegetative barriers (leucaena and Napier) under local farming conditions in Kenya. Minimum tillage yields of soybean and maize were superior to conventional, except in instances of root competition within the Napier no-till trial. Minimum tillage trials without barriers experienced significant soil loss during periods of heavy rainfall and had the lowest marginal rate of returns. Napier barriers with conventional tillage conserved the most soil and represented an economically viable option; however, leucaena barrier use couple with conventional tillage was found to be a less risky practice with even greater economic returns. Longer term studies in multiple locations are necessary to determine impacts across a highly varied cohort of smallholder farmers in the African Highlands.