Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 86, Issue 3, pp 317–329 | Cite as

Effect of organic and inorganic phosphorus sources on maize yields in an acid soil in western Kenya

  • P. A. Opala
  • J. R. Okalebo
  • C. O. Othieno
  • P. Kisinyo
Research Article


Maize production in western Kenya is commonly limited by P deficiencies and aluminum phytotoxicity. Due to high costs of imported fertilizers and lime, focus is now shifting to solutions that utilize local resources. We tested the effect of three inorganic P sources i.e., triple superphosphate (TSP), Minjingu phosphate rock (MPR) and Busumbu phosphate rock (BPR), each applied in combination with two organic materials (OMs) i.e., farmyard manure (FYM) and Tithonia diversifolia green manure (tithonia), or with urea on soil chemical properties related to soil acidity, P availability and maize yields for three consecutive seasons in western Kenya. The OMs and inorganic P sources were applied to provide 20 and 40 kg P ha−1 respectively in their combination. Where urea was used, the inorganic P sources were applied at 60 kg P ha−1. Maize did not respond to application of TSP, MPR or BPR with urea in the first two seasons. However, after three seasons, maize significantly responded to application of MPR with urea. FYM was more effective than tithonia in increasing the labile inorganic P pools but it gave lower maize yields than tithonia which was more effective in reducing the exchangeable Al. It appears that the ability of an OM to lower the exchangeable Al is more important in increasing maize yields than its ability to increase P availability. The effectiveness of the inorganic P sources in increasing maize yields followed the order of their effectiveness in increasing available P, i.e., TSP > MPR > BPR, once Al phytotoxicity was reduced by application of tithonia but the difference between TSP and MPR was not significant. The extra maize yield obtained by the additional 40 kg P ha−1 from the inorganic P sources was, however, in most cases not substantial enough to justify their use. Economic considerations may therefore favour the use of tithonia or FYM when applied alone at 20 kg P ha−1 than when combined with any of the inorganic P sources used in this study at a total P rate of 60 kg ha−1.


Aluminum phytotoxicity Inorganic phosphorus sources Maize yields Organic materials Phosphorus availability 



We thank Bukura Agricultural College for providing land for the field experiment. We are grateful to Laban Mulunda of Bukura Agricultural College for management of the field experiment. We would also like to acknowledge Mary Emong’ole of Moi University for conducting laboratory analyses and M. Mudeheri (KARI, Kakamega) for assistance with statistical analyses.


  1. Anderson JM, Ingram JSI (1993) Tropical soil biology and fertility: a handbook of methods. CAB International, WallingfordGoogle Scholar
  2. Beck MA, Sanchez PA (1994) Soil phosphorus fraction dynamics during 18 years of cultivation on a typic Paleudult. Soil Sci 34:1424–1431Google Scholar
  3. Birch HF, Hood CC (1960). Phosphorus transformations in decomposing plant residues. EAAFRO Record of Research Annual Report, KARI, Muguga, Kenya, pp 22–24Google Scholar
  4. Chien SH, Clayton WR, McClellan GM (1980) Kinetic dissolution of phosphate rocks in soils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 44:260–264Google Scholar
  5. Cong PT, Merckx R (2005) Improving phosphorus availability in two upland soils of Vietnam using Tithonia diversifolia H. Plant Soil 269:11–23. doi: 10.1007/s11104-004-1791-1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. FAO (2004) Use of phosphate rocks for sustainable agriculture. Fertilizer and Plant Nutrition Bulletin no. 13. Rome, ItalyGoogle Scholar
  7. Fox RL, Kamprath EJ (1970) Phosphate sorption isotherms for evaluating the requirements of soil. Soil Sci Soc Am Proc 34:902–907CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. FURP (1987) Fertilizer use recommendation project. Compilation of results from former fertilizer trials in Kenya. Ministry of Agriculture, NairobiGoogle Scholar
  9. GENSTAT (1993) Gensat 5 release 3.2 reference manual. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  10. Haynes RJ, Mokolobate MS (2001) Amelioration of aluminum toxicity and phosphorus deficiency in acid soils by additions of organic residues: a critical review of the phenomenon and mechanisms involved. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 59:47–63. doi: 10.1023/A:1009823600950 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hedley MJ, Steward JWB, Chauhan BS (1982) Changes in inorganic soil phosphorus fractions induced by cultivation practices and laboratory incubation. Soil Sci Soc Am J 46:970–976Google Scholar
  12. Hue NV, Craddock GR, Adams F (1986) Effect of organic acids on aluminum, toxicity in subsoils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 25:3291–3303Google Scholar
  13. Ikerra ST, Semu E, Mrema JP (2006) Combining Tithonia diversifolia and minjingu phosphate rock for improvement of P availability and maize grain yields on a chromic acrisol in Morogoro, Tanzania. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 76:249–260. doi: 10.1007/s10705-006-9007-0 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Indiati R (2000) Addition of phosphorus to soils with low to medium phosphorus retention capacities, I. Effect on soil phosphorus sorption properties. Commun Soil Sci Plant Anal 26:1863–1872. doi: 10.1080/00103629509369413 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Iyamuremye F, Dick RP, Baham J (1996) Organic amendments and phosphorus dynamics: II. Distribution of soil phosphorus fractions. Soil Sci 161:436–443. doi: 10.1097/00010694-199607000-00003 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Jama B, Palm CA, Buresh RJ, Niang AI, Gachengo C, Nziguheba G, Amadalo B (2000) Tithonia diversifolia as a green manure for soil fertility improvement in Western Kenya. A review. Agrofor Syst 49:201–221. doi: 10.1023/A:1006339025728 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Khasawneh FE, Doll EC (1978) The use of phosphate rock for direct application to soils. Adv Agron 30:159–206. doi: 10.1016/S0065-2113(08)60706-3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kifuko MN, Othieno CO, Okalebo JR, Kimenye LN, Ndungu KW, Kipkoech AK (2007) Effect of combining organic residues with Minjingu phosphate rock on sorption and availabilty of phosphorus and maize production in acid soils of western Kenya. Exp Agric 43:51–66. doi: 10.1017/S0014479706004121 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kpomblekou K, Tabatabai MA (1994) Effect of organic acids on release of phosphorus from phosphate rocks. Soil Sci 158:442–453. doi: 10.1097/00010694-199415860-00006 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. McClellan GH (1991) Use of east and southeast African indigenous agrominerals for fertilizer production. Fert Res 30:125–126. doi: 10.1007/BF01048644 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. McLean EO (1965) Soil pH and lime requirement. In: Black CA (ed) Methods of soil analysis, part 2. ASA, Madison, pp 199–223Google Scholar
  22. Narambuye FX, Haynes RJ (2006a) Effect of organic amendments on soil pH and Al solubility and use of laboratory indices to predict their liming effect. Soil Sci 17110:754–763. doi: 10.1097/ CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Narambuye FX, Haynes RJ (2006b) Short-term effects of three animal manures on soil pH and aluminum solubility. Aust J Soil Res 44:515–521. doi: 10.1071/SR05062 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Nekesa AO (2007). Effect of Minjingu phosphate rock and Agricultural lime in relation to maize, groundnut and soybean yields on acid soils of western Kenya. MPhil. Thesis, Moi University, Eldoret, KenyaGoogle Scholar
  25. Nziguheba G (2007) Overcoming phosphorus deficiency in soils of Eastern Africa: recent advances and challenges. In: Bationo A, Waswa B, Kihara J, Kimetu J (eds) Advances in integrated soil fertility management in sub-Saharan Africa: challenges and opportunities. Springer, New York, pp 49–160Google Scholar
  26. Nziguheba G, Palm CA, Buresh RJ, Smithson PC (1998) Soil P fractions and adsorption as affected by organic and inorganic sources. Plant Soil 198:159–168. doi: 10.1023/A:1004389704235 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Okalebo JR, Gathua KW, Woomer PL (2002) Laboratory methods of soil and plant analysis. A working manual, vol 2. TSBF-CIAT and SACRED Africa, NairobiGoogle Scholar
  28. Palm CA, Myers RJK, Nandwa S (1997). Combined use of organic and inorganic nutrient sources for soil fertility replenishment. In: Buresh RJ, Sanchez PA, Calhoun F (eds) Replenishing soil fertility in Africa. SSSA special publication no. 51. Madison, Wisconsin, pp 193–217Google Scholar
  29. Palm CA, Gachengo CN, Delve CN, Cadisch G, Giller KE (2001) Organic inputs for soil fertility management in tropical agroecosystems: application of an organic resource database. Agric Ecosyst Environ 83:27–42. doi: 10.1016/S0167-8809(00)00267-X CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Paniagua A, Mazzarino MJ, Kass D, Szott L, Farnadez C (1995) Soil phosphorus fractions under five tropical agroecosystems on a volcanic soil. Aust J Soil Res 33:311–320. doi: 10.1071/SR9950311 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Probert M, Okalebo JR, Simpson RK (1995) The use of manure on smallholder farms in semi-arid Eastern Kenya. Exp Agric 31:371–381. doi: 10.1017/S0014479700025540 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ritchie GSP (1994) Role of dissolution and precipitation of minerals in controlling soluble aluminum in acid soils. Adv Agron 53:47–83. doi: 10.1016/S0065-2113(08)60612-4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Savini I, Smithson PC, Karanja NK, Yamasaki H (2006) Influence of Tithonia diversifolia and triple superphosphate on dissolution and effectiveness of phosphate rock in acidic soil. J Plant Nutr Soil Sci 169:593–604. doi: 10.1002/jpln.200521931 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sharply AN, Tiessen H, Cole CV (1987) Soil phosphorus forms extracted by soil tests as a function of pedogenesis. Soil Sci Soc Am J 51:362–365Google Scholar
  35. Sinclair AG, Johnstone PD, Smith LC, O’Connor MB, Nguyen L (1993) Agronomy modeling and economics of reactive phosphate rocks as slow-release phosphate fertilizers for grasslands. Fert Res 36:229–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Smith JP, Lehr JR (1966) An X-Ray investigation of carbonate apatites. J Agric Food Chem 14:342–349. doi: 10.1021/jf60146a004 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Smithson P (1999) Interactions of organic materials with phosphate rocks and triple superphosphate. In: Buresh R, Sinclair FL (eds) Special issue on phosphorus availability, uptake and cycling in tropical agroforestry. Agroforestry Forum, vol 9, no. 4, pp 37–40Google Scholar
  38. Subehia SK, Minhas RS (1993) Phosphorus availability from Udair rock phosphate as influenced by different organic amendments. J Indian Soc Soil Sci 41:96–99Google Scholar
  39. Tang C, Sparling GP, McLay CDA, Raphael C (1999) Effect of short-term residue decomposition on soil acidity. Aust J Soil Res 37:561–573. doi: 10.1071/S98104 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Tang Y, Zhang H, Schroder JL, Payton ME, Zhou D (2007) Animal manure reduces aluminum toxicity in acid soils. Sci Soc Am J 71:1699–1707. doi: 10.2136/sssaj2007.0008 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Tiessen H, Stewart JWB, Cole CV (1984) Pathways of phosphorus transformations in soils of differing pedogenesis. Soil Sci Soc Am J 48:853–858Google Scholar
  42. van Kauwenbergh SJ (1991) Overview of phosphate deposits in Eastern and Southern Africa. Fert Res 30:127–150. doi: 10.1007/BF01048645 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. van Straaten P (2002) Rocks for crops: agrominerals of sub-Saharan Africa. ICRAF, Nairobi, p 338Google Scholar
  44. Waigwa MW, Othieno CO, Okalebo JR (2003) Phosphorus availability as affected by application of phosphate rock combined with organic materials to acid soils in western Kenya. Exp Agric 39:395–407. doi: 10.1017/S0014479703001248 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Whalen JK, Chang C (2002) Phosphorus sorption capacities of calcareous soils receiving cattle manure applications for 25 years. Commun Soil Sci Plant Anal 33:1011–1026. doi: 10.1081/CSS-120003870 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Whalen JK, Chang C, Clayton GW, Carefoot JP (2000) Cattle manure can increase the soil pH of acid soils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 64:962–966Google Scholar
  47. Williams JDH, Mayer T, Nriagu JO (1980) Extractability of phosphorus from phosphorus minerals common in soils and sediments. Soil Sci Soc Am J 44:462–465Google Scholar
  48. Wong MTF, Nortcliff S, Swift RS (1998) Method for determining the acid ameliorating capacity of plant residue compost, urban waste compost, farmyard manure and peat applied to tropical soils. Commun Soil Sci Plant Anal 29:2927–2937. doi: 10.1080/00103629809370166 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Woomer P, Okalebo JR, Sanchez PA (1997) Phosphorus replenishment in western Kenya: from field experimentation to operational strategy. Afr Crop Sci J 3:559–570Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. A. Opala
    • 1
  • J. R. Okalebo
    • 1
  • C. O. Othieno
    • 1
  • P. Kisinyo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Soil ScienceMoi UniversityEldoretKenya

Personalised recommendations