Micro-Dosing of Lime, Phosphorus and Nitrogen Fertilizers Effect on Maize Performance on an Acid Soil in Kenya
Opala, P. A.
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High cost of inorganic fertilizers and lime has precluded their use by smallholder farmers to remedy the problem of soil acidity and infertility in Kenya. To address the problem, we tested a precision technique referred to as micro-dosing, which involves application of small, affordable quantities of inorganic inputs on an acid soil in Busia County, Kenya. Experimental treatments were N-fertilizer (0 and 37.5 kg N ha-1), P-fertilizer (0 and 13 kg P ha-1) and lime (0, 0.77 and 1.55 tons lime ha-1). 37.5 kg N and 13 kg P ha-1 are 50% of the recommended fertilizer rates for maize production in Kenya while 0.77 and 1.55 tons lime ha-1 are 25 and 50% of the actual requirement. Soil chemical changes, maize grain yield and nutrient recovery were determined. Lime and P-fertilizer significantly affected only the top-soil pH, Ca, Mg and available P, while the effects of N-fertilizer were evident on both top- and sub-soil N likely due to its faster mobility than P and lime. Grain P-fertilizer recovery efficiencies were 14 and 16-27% due to 13 kg P and 13 kg P + 0.77-1.55 tons lime ha-1, respectively. N-fertilizer recovery efficiencies were 37 and 42-45% due to 37.5 kg N and 37.5 kg N + 0.77-1.55 tons lime ha-1, respectively. Fertilizers applied to supply 37.5 kg N, 13 kg P and 0.77-1.55 tons lime ha-1 increased grain yield above the control by 134, 39 and 12-22%, respectively, therefore micro-dosing of these inputs can increase maize production on Kenyan acid soils.