Potato Farming

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1.1 Background Information
Production of potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) takes a very important place in world agriculture, with a production potential of about 327 million Mg harvested from 18.6 million hectares (Alaa et al., 2012) and a major non-grain food commodity (FAOSTAT, 2008). Potato is the world’s major tuber crop and the third most important food crop after rice and wheat (CIP, 2008).
There has been an increase in total area under potato production in Kenya, making it the second most major food and cash crop for most of small-scale farmers residing in the highlands (Guyton et al., 1994). It plays a major role in food security in Kenya and contributes to poverty alleviation through income generation and employment creation as farmers
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Potato farming on such slopes is made possible by ridging the crop to encourage tuber development as rain water tends to collect in the furrows then percolates into the soils thereby becoming available to the adjacent potato crop.
Farmers are focusing on various farming practices like hilling up of potatoes immediately after sowing with subsequent hand weeding so as to conserve soil and water (Ngigi et al., 2006). More so, others intercrop it with other cover crops as a way of ensuring optimum water use efficiency (Youssef et al., 2007). The term water use efficiency according to Loomis (1983), is defined as the ratio of dry matter produced (Y) per unit of water transpired by a crop (T), expressed as kg/mm or kg/ha/mm.
The proposed research will assess effect of selected potato-legume cropping systems on soil moisture conservation and its effect on nutrient uptake and use efficiency. Investigation on the effect of intercropping potatoes with legumes on water and nutrient use efficiency will be compared with sole potato cropped fields on terraced plots hence diversifying the potato based cropping
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Hence, to increase crop yields and reduce crop production risks associated with erratic rainfall and potato diseases, a focus on soil water conservation is imperative. This will maximize rainfall infiltration into the soil and its retention in the root zone leading to efficiency in nutrient use in soils. Raising productivity, through a more effective use of natural resources like rainfall and externally added inputs like fertilizers is possible through

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