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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 2 (2012 Deadline)

Unlocking agricultural potential in drylands: enhancing efficient utilization of soil moisture for improved smallholder farm productivity in ASALs of Kenya

PI: Mary Baaru (Kenyatta University)
U.S. Partner: Ethan Allen (Pacific Resources for Education and Learning)
Project Dates: August 2013 to July 2016
2-335 Stakeholder Meeting
Team Members engage local stakeholders concerning current soil conditions. (Photo: Dr. Baaru)
The amount of land devoted to agricultural uses has been reduced as a result of rising population and associated growing demands for land resources. This has resulted in increased exploitation of drylands. In view of this situation, utilization of the resource base in drylands areas can no longer proceed on a "business as usual” basis. This PEER Science project aims to address issues of water scarcity, deforestation, insufficient extension services, and lack of appropriate cropping systems in Kenya. Beyond its research components, the project also includes capacity-building activities designed for farmers in drylands areas. Groups of farmers will be trained on how to implement soil and water conservation measures and will be given kits to assist them in putting these measures in place, first on the farms of group members and later on non-member farms.
Trained farmers will fill in the gap left by the shrinking extension service and ensure that information passed from farmer to farmer is reliable. The research to be carried out under the project will also provide in-depth understanding on moisture distribution and soil properties, as well as optimal cropping systems to utilize moisture for maximum land productivity. The project should result in improved landscapes on conserved farms, leading to reduced land and water degradation. Food security will be enhanced due to improved land productivity. Farmers will also be economically empowered and obtain improved living standards from increased sales of crops and livestock products.


Summary of Recent Activities
Within this period, the masters thesis was submitted for examination and Dr. Baaru's student will be defending the thesis in November.  During the same period, the crop was in the field for the 2015 long rains. Monitoring of trials, collecting
soil and crop , laboratory and data analysis, were the main activities during this period.

The team also did some specific field activities which included:
• Soil sampling for moisture analysis
• Bean harvesting
• Maize plant height recording
• Second soil sampling for moisture analysis
• Maize harvesting
• Soil sampling at maize harvesting time for nutrient (N, P, K) analysis
• Plant sample collection at harvesting for nutrient (N, P, K) analysis