IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Feeding, crop residue and manure management for integrated soil fertility management – A case study from Kenya


  • Castellanos-Navarrete, A.
  • Tittonell, P.
  • Rufino, M.C.
  • Giller, K.E.


Western Kenya is one of Africa’s most densely populated rural areas, characterised by intensive smallholder crop–livestock systems on degraded lands managed with small inputs of mineral fertiliser and animal manure. Competing uses for crop residues and other organic resources often results in poor nutrient cycling efficiencies at farm scale. Modifying livestock feeding, retaining more crop residues in the field, and improving manure management can help conserving considerable amount of nutrients on-farm. To examine to what extent such strategies would be feasible, we analysed whole-farm nutrient cycling efficiencies (NCE) of a range of farms differing in resource-endowment and production orientation, identifying the most efficient farmer strategies considering labour and financial constraints. Nutrient concentration in excreted cattle manure was relatively small (i.e., N<1.7%; P<0.6%). Current manure management practices led to low NCE’s (average 27%) due to nutrient losses from excretion through storage and application. Farmers have few incentives to improve manure management given the small amounts of excreta and nutrients to be recycled. Yet, manure, both composted and fresh, represented the greatest N (16kgha−1 season−1) and C returns to the soil (312kg C ha−1 season−1). Retention of crop residues was the cheapest source of nutrient inputs for the next crop, especially when compared with manure, but farmers prioritised its use for cattle feeding. Our findings highlight the critical lack of nutrients and organic residues on smallholder farms in the densely-populated highlands of East Africa, as well as low NCE when it comes to manure. In these conditions, efficient nutrient cycling for manure and improved cattle feeding are essential to increase use efficiencies of any possible external nutrient added in these farms.

Suggested Citation

  • Castellanos-Navarrete, A. & Tittonell, P. & Rufino, M.C. & Giller, K.E., 2015. "Feeding, crop residue and manure management for integrated soil fertility management – A case study from Kenya," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 24-35.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:134:y:2015:i:c:p:24-35
    DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2014.03.001

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Soule, M. J. & Shepherd, K. D., 2000. "An ecological and economic analysis of phosphorus replenishment for Vihiga Division, western Kenya," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 83-98, May.
    2. Kiptot, Evelyne & Hebinck, Paul & Franzel, Steven & Richards, Paul, 2007. "Adopters, testers or pseudo-adopters? Dynamics of the use of improved tree fallows by farmers in western Kenya," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 94(2), pages 509-519, May.
    3. Powell, J. M. & Fernandez-Rivera, S. & Hiernaux, P. & Turner, M. D., 1996. "Nutrient cycling in integrated rangeland/cropland systems of the Sahel," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 52(2-3), pages 143-170.
    4. Bationo, Andre & Kihara, Job & Vanlauwe, Bernard & Waswa, Boaz & Kimetu, Joseph, 2007. "Soil organic carbon dynamics, functions and management in West African agro-ecosystems," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 13-25, April.
    5. Abegaz, Assefa & van Keulen, Herman & Oosting, Simon J., 2007. "Feed resources, livestock production and soil carbon dynamics in Teghane, Northern Highlands of Ethiopia," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 94(2), pages 391-404, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Ylva Nyberg & Caroline Musee & Emmanuel Wachiye & Mattias Jonsson & Johanna Wetterlind & Ingrid Öborn, 2020. "Effects of Agroforestry and Other Sustainable Practices in the Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project (KACP)," Land, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(10), pages 1-22, October.
    2. Rodriguez, D & de Voil, P & Rufino, MC & Odendo, M & van Wijk, MT, 2017. "To mulch or to munch? Big modelling of big data," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 153(C), pages 32-42.
    3. Adam M. Komarek & Siwa Msangi, 2019. "Effect of changes in population density and crop productivity on farm households in Malawi," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 50(5), pages 615-628, September.
    4. Tittonell, Pablo, 2020. "Assessing resilience and adaptability in agroecological transitions," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 184(C).
    5. Tittonell, Pablo & Gérard, Bruno & Erenstein, Olaf, 2015. "Tradeoffs around crop residue biomass in smallholder crop-livestock systems – What’s next?," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 119-128.
    6. Nyberg, Ylva & Wetterlind, Johanna & Jonsson, Mattias & Öborn, Ingrid, 2020. "The role of trees and livestock in ecosystem service provision and farm priorities on smallholder farms in the Rift Valley, Kenya," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 181(C).
    7. Kurgat, Barnabas K. & Stöber, Silke & Mwonga, Samuel & Lotze-Campen, Hermann & Rosenstock, Todd S., 2018. "Livelihood and climate trade-offs in Kenyan peri-urban vegetable production," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 160(C), pages 79-86.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Andrieu, N. & Vayssières, J. & Corbeels, M. & Blanchard, M. & Vall, E. & Tittonell, P., 2015. "From farm scale synergies to village scale trade-offs: Cereal crop residues use in an agro-pastoral system of the Sudanian zone of Burkina Faso," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 84-96.
    2. Rimhanen, Karoliina & Kahiluoto, Helena, 2014. "Management of harvested C in smallholder mixed farming in Ethiopia," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 13-22.
    3. Bishu, Kinfe & O'Reilly, Seamus & Lahiff, Edward & Steiner, Bodo, 2016. "Cattle farmers’ perceptions of risk and risk management strategies," MPRA Paper 74954, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Alice Pell, 1999. "Integrated Crop–livestock Management Systems in Sub-saharan Africa," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 337-348, September.
    5. La Rovere, R. & Hiernaux, P. & Van Keulen, H. & Schiere, J. B. & Szonyi, J. A., 2005. "Co-evolutionary scenarios of intensification and privatization of resource use in rural communities of south-western Niger," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 83(3), pages 251-276, March.
    6. Turner, Matthew D. & Williams, Timothy O., 2002. "Livestock Market Dynamics and Local Vulnerabilities in the Sahel," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 683-705, April.
    7. María Isabel Palacios-Rangel & Juan Manuel Vargas-Canales & Jorge Aguilar-Ávila & Joaquín Huitzilihuitl Camacho-Vera & Jorge Gustavo Ocampo-Ledesma & Sergio Ernesto Medina-Cuellar, 2018. "Efficiency of small enterprises of protected agriculture in the adoption of innovations in Mexico," Estudios Gerenciales, Universidad Icesi, vol. 34(146), pages 52-62, February.
    8. Joanne Millar & John Connell, 2010. "Strategies for scaling out impacts from agricultural systems change: the case of forages and livestock production in Laos," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 27(2), pages 213-225, June.
    9. Michael Jacobson & Cori Ham, 2020. "The (un)broken promise of agroforestry: a case study of improved fallows in Zambia," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 22(8), pages 8247-8260, December.
    10. B. Sonneveld & M. Keyzer & P. Adegbola & S. Pande, 2012. "The Impact of Climate Change on Crop Production in West Africa: An Assessment for the Oueme River Basin in Benin," Water Resources Management: An International Journal, Published for the European Water Resources Association (EWRA), Springer;European Water Resources Association (EWRA), vol. 26(2), pages 553-579, January.
    11. Andrieu, Nadine & Descheemaeker, Katrien & Sanou, Thierry & Chia, Eduardo, 2015. "Effects of technical interventions on flexibility of farming systems in Burkina Faso: Lessons for the design of innovations in West Africa," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 125-137.
    12. de Ridder, Nico & Breman, Henk & van Keulen, Herman & Stomph, Tjeerd Jan, 2004. "Revisiting a `cure against land hunger': soil fertility management and farming systems dynamics in the West African Sahel," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 109-131, May.
    13. Hammond, James & van Wijk, Mark T. & Smajgl, Alex & Ward, John & Pagella, Tim & Xu, Jianchu & Su, Yufang & Yi, Zhuangfang & Harrison, Rhett D., 2017. "Farm types and farmer motivations to adapt: Implications for design of sustainable agricultural interventions in the rubber plantations of South West China," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 154(C), pages 1-12.
    14. Brown, Brendan & Paudel, Gokul P. & Krupnik, Timothy J., 2021. "Visualising adoption processes through a stepwise framework: A case study of mechanisation on the Nepal Terai," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 192(C).
    15. Marenya, Paswel & Nkonya, Ephraim & Xiong, Wei & Deustua, Jose & Kato, Edward, 2012. "Which policy would work better for improved soil fertility management in sub-Saharan Africa, fertilizer subsidies or carbon credits?," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 162-172.
    16. Ivan S. Adolwa & Stefan Schwarze & Imogen Bellwood-Howard & Nikolaus Schareika & Andreas Buerkert, 2017. "A comparative analysis of agricultural knowledge and innovation systems in Kenya and Ghana: sustainable agricultural intensification in the rural–urban interface," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 34(2), pages 453-472, June.
    17. Aguilar-Gallegos, Norman & Muñoz-Rodríguez, Manrrubio & Santoyo-Cortés, Horacio & Aguilar-Ávila, Jorge & Klerkx, Laurens, 2015. "Information networks that generate economic value: A study on clusters of adopters of new or improved technologies and practices among oil palm growers in Mexico," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 135(C), pages 122-132.
    18. Rufino, M.C. & Dury, J. & Tittonell, P. & van Wijk, M.T. & Herrero, M. & Zingore, S. & Mapfumo, P. & Giller, K.E., 2011. "Competing use of organic resources, village-level interactions between farm types and climate variability in a communal area of NE Zimbabwe," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 104(2), pages 175-190, February.
    19. Rasmussen, Laura Vang & Rasmussen, Kjeld & Reenberg, Anette & Proud, Simon, 2012. "A system dynamics approach to land use changes in agro-pastoral systems on the desert margins of Sahel," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 56-64.
    20. Ndlovu, Nicholas. P. & Borrass, Lars, 2021. "Promises and potentials do not grow trees and crops. A review of institutional and policy research in agroforestry for the Southern African region," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 103(C).


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:134:y:2015:i:c:p:24-35. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Catherine Liu (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.