The Influence of Intensive Agriculture on Soil Properties and Nutrient Availability in Kauwi and Zombe Wards of Kitui County, Kenya

  • Everlyne Katilo Kitavi South Eastern Kenya University
  • Charles Kimani Ndung’u South Eastern Kenya University
  • Moses Mwangi South Eastern Kenya University
Keywords: Intensive Agriculture, Locational Variation, Cropping Systems, Soil Quality
Share Article:


Soils perform various functions for the purpose of supporting agroecosystems. Numerous agroecosystem support functions rely on the properties of soils. Inappropriate agricultural techniques and land usage have led to a global 12.5% drop in soil health during the previous few decades. Inappropriate cultivation, nutrient mining, and overuse of inorganic chemical treatments are some of the activities that may have degraded soil quality. A study on the influence of intensive agriculture on soil properties and nutrient availability under different cropping systems and locations was done in the years 2018 and 2019 in Kauwi and Zombe Wards of Kitui County, Kenya. Four commonly occurring cropping systems, namely, vegetable, cereal, fruit, and agroforestry, were selected in the two locations. Uncultivated land in the area was considered as control. In total, there were five treatments, which were replicated five times in each of the locations. During the typical long (March, April, May) and short (October, November, December) rainfall seasons, composite soil samples were randomly taken from the cropping systems. Analysis of the results revealed that the influence of cropping systems on locational variation of soil quality parameters varied significantly (p<0.05). Further, the interaction between cropping strategies and locations significantly influenced soil pH and soil organic carbon. In Zombe, the vegetable cropping system registered the lowest soil pH and electrical conductivity values. Similarly, Soil Organic Carbon, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium mean values under the vegetable farming system were higher in Zombe compared to Kauwi ward, probably due to the heavy application of fertilisers. Based on the results from the study, farmers in the area should be sensitised to embrace sustainable agricultural practices that promote moderate application of fertilisers to maintain healthy soils


Download data is not yet available.


Alexander, M. (1965). Nitrification. Soil nitrogen, 10, 307-343.

Arshad, M. A., & Martin, S. (2002). Identifying critical limits for soil quality indicators in agro-ecosystems. Agriculture, ecosystems & environment, 88(2), 153-160.

Bal, K., & Toky, O. P. (1993). Significance of nitrogen-fixing woody legume trees in forestry. Indian Forester, 119(2), 126-134.

Bhavya, V. P., Anil Kumar, S., & Shiva Kumar, K. M. (2017). Land use systems to improve carbon sequestration in soils for mitigation of climate change. Int J Chem Stud, 5(4), 2019-2021.

Bresler, E., McNeal, B. L., & Carter, D. L. (2012). Saline and sodic soils: principles-dynamics-modeling (Vol. 10). Springer Science & Business Media.

Chen, L., Qi, X., Zhang, X., Li, Q., & Zhang, Y. (2011). Effect of agricultural land use changes on soil nutrient use efficiency in an agricultural area, Beijing, China. Chinese Geographical Science, 21, 392-402.

National Research Council. (1993). Soil and water quality: An agenda for agriculture. National Academies Press.

Gu, D., Andreev, K., & Dupre, M. E. (2021). Major trends in population growth around the world. China CDC Weekly, 3(28), 604.

Hossain, M., & Hoque, A. F. (2008). Litter production and decomposition in mangroves: a review. Indian Journal of Forestry, 31(2), 227-238.

Koreeny, M. (2023). Assessment of rainwater harvesting technologies for improved food security in Kauwi sub-location, Kitui County (Doctoral dissertation).

Lee, R. (2011). The outlook for population growth. Science, 333(6042), 569-573.

Matson, P. A., Parton, W. J., Power, A. G., & Swift, M. J. (1997). Agricultural intensification and ecosystem properties. Science, 277(5325), 504-509.

Merwin, H. D., & Peech, M. (1951). The exchangeability of soil potassium in the sand, silt, and clay fractions is influenced by the nature of the complementary exchangeable cation. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 15(C), 125-128.

Mfilinge, P. L., Meziane, T., Bachok, Z., & Tsuchiya, M. (2005). Litter dynamics and particulate organic matter outwelling from a subtropical mangrove in Okinawa Island, South Japan. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 63(1-2), 301-313.

Oldeman, L. R. (1992). Global extent of soil degradation. In Bi-annual report 1991-1992/ISRIC (pp. 19-36). ISRIC.

Olsen, S. R. (1954). Estimation of available phosphorus in soils by extraction with sodium bicarbonate (No. 939). US Department of Agriculture.

Ozlu, E., & Kumar, S. (2018). Response of soil organic carbon, pH, electrical conductivity, and water stable aggregates to long‐term annual manure and inorganic fertiliser. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 82(5), 1243-1251.

Pierzynski, G. M., Vance, G. F., & Sims, J. T. (2005). Soils and environmental quality. CRC press.

Ram, B., Singh, A. P., Singh, V. K., Shivran, M., & Serawat, A. Effect of different Land-uses Systems on Soil pH, Electrical Conductivity and Micronutrients in Mollisols of Uttarakhand.

Rawat, R. S. (2005). Studies on the interrelationship of woody vegetation density and soil characteristics along an altitudinal gradient in a montane forest of Garhwal Himalayas. Indian Forester, 131(8), 990.

Shukla, S. K., Singh, P. N., Chauhan, R. S., & Solomon, S. (2015). Soil physical, chemical and biological changes and long-term sustainability in subtropical India through the integration of organic and inorganic nutrient sources in sugarcane. Sugar Tech, 17, 138-149.

Sims, J. R., & Jackson, G. D. (1971). Rapid analysis of soil nitrate with chromotropic acid. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 35(4), 603-606.

Singh, B. R. (1980). Distribution of Total and Extractable S and Adsorbed 35SO2-4 in Some Acid Forest Soil Profiles of Southern Norway. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, 30(4), 357-363.

Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. (2019). The 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census: Population by County and Sub-County. Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

Subbaiah, A. Y., & Asija, G. K. (1949). Available nitrogen: alkaline permanganate method. Curr. Sci, 25, 254-260.

Tillman, P. G., Smith, H. A., & Holland, J. M. (2012). Cover crops and related methods for enhancing agricultural biodiversity and conservation biocontrol: Successful case studies. Biodiversity and insect pests: key issues for sustainable management, 309-327.

Walkley, A., & Black, I. A. (1934). An examination of the Degtjareff method for determining soil organic matter and a proposed modification of the chromic acid titration method. Soil science, 37(1), 29-38.

Wolf, B., & Snyder, G. (2003). Sustainable soils: the place of organic matter in sustaining soils and their productivity. CRC Press.

Xiubin, H., Fenli, Z., Chenge, Z., & Keli, T. (2002, May). Structural indicator response of soil quality to forestry cultivation on the loess plateau of China. In 12th ISCO Conference (Vol. 2631).

7 January, 2024
How to Cite
Kitavi, E., Ndung’u, C., & Mwangi, M. (2024). The Influence of Intensive Agriculture on Soil Properties and Nutrient Availability in Kauwi and Zombe Wards of Kitui County, Kenya. East African Journal of Agriculture and Biotechnology, 7(1), 1-12.