Journal of
Soil Science and Environmental Management

  • Abbreviation: J. Soil Sci. Environ. Manage.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2391
  • DOI: 10.5897/JSSEM
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 287

Full Length Research Paper

The effects of tillage systems on soil physical properties and water conservation in a sandy loam soil in Eastern Kenya

J. M. Miriti
  • J. M. Miriti
  • Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), ARC Muguga South Centre, P.O. 30148-00100 Nairobi, Kenya.
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G. Kironchi
  • G. Kironchi
  • Faculty of Agriculture, University of Nairobi, P.O. Box 30197-00100 Nairobi, Kenya.
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A. O. Esilaba
  • A. O. Esilaba
  • Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) Headquarters, P.O. Box 57811-00200 Nairobi, Kenya.
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C. K. K. Gachene
  • C. K. K. Gachene
  • Faculty of Agriculture, University of Nairobi, P.O. Box 30197-00100 Nairobi, Kenya
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L. K. Heng
  • L. K. Heng
  • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Soil and Water Management and Crop Nutrition Section, Wagrammer Strasse 5, P.O. Box 100, 1400 Vienna, Austria.
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D. M. Mwangi
  • D. M. Mwangi
  • Faculty of Agriculture, University of Nairobi, P.O. Box 30197-00100 Nairobi, Kenya.
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  •  Accepted: 21 October 2013
  •  Published: 29 November 2013

Abstract

Soil water conservation through tillage is widely accepted as one of the appropriate ways of addressing soil moisture constraints in rainfed agriculture. A field experiment was conducted for 6 seasons (2007 to 2009) to evaluate the effects of 3 tillage practices namely ox-plough (OP), subsoiling-ripping (SR) and tied-ridge (TR) on soil physical and hydro-physical properties of a sandy loam soil. Soil surface roughness, bulk density (BD), total porosity, crust strength, saturated hydraulic conductivity, steady infiltration rates and soil water storage were evaluated. Results showed that, mean inter-row BD (1.51 Mg m-3) and crust strength (3.05 MPa) with SR tillage were 7 and 15% greater (P ≤ 0.05) than with OP, respectively. Inter-row infiltration rates for OP (7.9 cm h-1) were more than two fold greater than for SR (3.6 cm h-1) and TR (3.3 cm h-1). Soil surface roughness with TR was significantly greater than with OP and SR tillage systems. Soil water storage for TR (222 mm) exceeded (P ≤ 0.05) that for OP and SR by 30 mm (16%) and 32 mm (17%), respectively. This study concluded that, ripping soil along planting line that are prone to surface crusting without disturbing the soil between crop rows was not effective as a conservation tillage method.

Key words: Tillage, soil physical properties, soil water conservation, sandy loam soil, infiltration rate.