Item Details

Title: Soil fertility Status, Management, and research in East Africa

Date Published: 2002
Author/s: M.A. Bekunda, E. Nkonya, D.Mugendi & J.J. Msaky
Data publication:
Funding Agency :
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Journal Publisher:
Affiliation: 1Department of Soil Science Makerere University, P.O. Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda
International Food Policy Research Institute, P.O. Box 28565, Kampala, Uganda
Faculty of Environmental Studies, Kenyatta University, P.O. Box 43844, Nairobi, Kenya
Sokoine University of Agriculture, P.O. Box 3008, Morogoro, Tanzania
Keywords: Soil fertility, fertilizer recommendations, fertilizer trials, nutrient mining,
fertilizer use, and East Africa


This study reviews and synthesizes the soil fertility status, management among smallholder
farmers and research in the three countries of east Africa, namely Kenya, Tanzania and
Uganda. We observe that many studies note the declining soil fertility, mainly due to soil
fertility mining, putting crop production in an unsustainable path. Studies have shown that
the current soil fertility management practices of recycling crop residue; biomass transfer;
short fallow and other organic practices appear to be inadequate to replenish the nutrient
outflow. Consequently, a number of case studies have shown crop yield decline in the
Soil fertility research in east Africa has concentrated on producing recommendation for
monocrop systems while most smallholder farmers plant crops in complex intercropping
and mixed cropping systems. Additionally even though agricultural prices and soil
characteristics are dynamic, recommendations are always based on static input-output price
ratio and soil conditions. This research approach and assumptions render many
recommendations irrelevant to smallholder farmers. Consequently, adoption of soil fertility
technologies in the region is low, even though many farmers appreciate the benefits of
these technologies. The need to revise the current soil fertility recommendation such that
they take into account the dynamic nature of soils and agricultural prices is apparent.