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Wageningen Universiteit (2006)

Exploring socio-ecological niches for legumes in western Kenya smallholder farming systems

Ojiem, J.O.

Titre : Exploring socio-ecological niches for legumes in western Kenya smallholder farming systems

Auteur : Ojiem, J.O.

Université de soutenance : Wageningen Universiteit

Grade : PhD thesis 2006

Résumé partiel
This thesis explores the potential of using herbaceous and grain legume species to improve soil fertility and farm productivity in the heterogeneous smallholder farming systems of westernKenya. Poor soil fertility is responsible for the limited productivity of the westernKenyasmallholder farming systems. Although legumes have the potential for improving productivity, their sustainable use is impeded by the high degree of biophysical and socio-economic heterogeneity that characterizes the farming systems. The socio-ecological niche concept was proposed as a framework for facilitating the identification and integrated assessment of biophysical and socio-economic factors with potential influence on the choice of sustainable legume technologies for smallholder farmers. The utility of the socio-ecological niche concept was tested through on-farm experiments and socio-economic surveys in westernKenya. The on-farm experiments were conducted across three major agro-ecological zones (AEZ), and under different soil fertility conditions, to assess legume emergence, survival, nodulation, diseases tolerance, grain yield, biomass production, atmospheric N 2 -fixation and net N contribution to soil N fertility. In addition, the economic benefits of growing grain and green manure legumes in rotation with maize were assessed to determine how they are influenced by agro-ecological conditions and within farm soil fertility heterogeneity. Socio-economic surveys characterized farmer legume production objectives, as well as socio-cultural, economic and institutional factors with potential impact on the use of legume technologies by westernKenyasmallholder farmers. The biophysical and socio-economic factors were integrated and analysed to identify legume species for different farmer resource endowment groups, agro-ecological conditions and field typologies. Analysis of the alternative legume production scenario was undertaken, to test the utility of the socio-ecological niche concept.

Mots clés : legumes / adaptability / biophysics / socioeconomics / kenya / heterogeneity / economic analysis / nitrogen fixation / productivity / agroecosystems

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