November 28, 2018
Agricultural Intensification in Semi-Arid Kenya: Tradeoffs with Livelihoods and Ecosystem Services
Research Professor Cheryl Palm, Professor Rafael Muñoz-Carpena, and Professor Greg Kiker
This summer, University of Florida faculty and students were invited to collaborate on agriculture projects in the semi-arid lands of Naibor in Laikipia, Kenya, taking advantage of UF’s notability with extension and Mpala’s research facilities, which traditionally have been geared towards conservation and wildlife research. ABE faculty involved in this project include Research Professor Cheryl Palm, Professor Rafael Muñoz-Carpena, and Professor Greg Kiker.
The data collected is a baseline for future projects in this collaboration between UF and Mpala. Furthermore, data on soil and water quality, along with interpretations, were shared with the participating farmers who appreciated obtaining information about their fields and recommendations to improve crop productivity and increase financial results from nutrient applications. This initial research characterized the conditions of the farms and surrounding environments (natural capital: climate, soils, vegetation, water) through records, field, and lab measurements, and described agricultural practices (crops, tillage practices, irrigation, nutrient, and pesticide application rates and types through farm surveys and observations.
The team will use this information to develop more detailed research projects that will address improved agricultural practices for a sustainable environment and better the livelihoods of people in Naibor that can be extended to similar semi-arid Sub-Saharan ecosystems.
For more information, read our full blog post at https://abe.ufl.edu/blog/kenya/.
Water Quality of Tributaries in Kenya
Land and Water Resource Engineering B.S. Alumna Victoria Steinnecker
ABE alumna Victoria Steinnecker also travelled to Laikipia, Kenya to assist in the research for Agricultural Intensification in Semi-Arid Kenya. Victoria measured the water quality of tributaries to the Ewaso Ng’iro River.
“One of my greatest experiences at the University of Florida took place this past summer, when I had the opportunity to research the water quality of a major Kenyan river as it was being affected by small-scale agriculture and other human use. Days were long, starting out early in the field and returning late to go to the lab and process samples, but being woken up by exotic birds, watching the wildlife at the watering hole on the way to and from the field, explaining to schoolchildren in uniform what I was doing to and with their river water, and learning how a different culture thinks and operates from the mouths of Kenyan farmers made each long day well worth the work. Of course, this experience has made me highly marketable to employers, but the lifelong friendships and memories are what made it truly invaluable.”
Bryn Llewelyn, founder of the farmer's cooperative Agventure Ltd., discusses the challenges and opportunities in non-irrigated agriculture, traffic control and crop diversification at the skirts of Mt. Kenya.
Graduate student Enrique Orozco setting up the macropore flow study in the Riparian buffer of farm in the Nayuki River, Kenya.