By Kenan Miruka
Gucha District agriculture officer Mulei Mutiso attributed the disease that is discolouring leaves to excessive nutrient deficiency occasioned by poor soil fertility management practices.
“We have received reports from farmers complaining that their crops have turned yellow and pink. This yellowing is caused by deficiency of minerals like nitrogen and phosphorus in the soil due to improper application of fertiliser,” said Mutiso.
Tests conducted by Kenya Agricultural Research Institute in the area in 2009 indicated soils have high acidity, which impair crop production.
The report based on random tests on 30 farms revealed that soil PH levels ranged between three and four, which is below the optimum PH level of six for production of maize and pulses. “Di-ammonium Phosphate fertiliser, commonly used in the area contains ammonia, which breaks down to form nitric acid that lowers soil PH. The problem is compounded by massive erosion that removes humus and natural soil buffer exposing subsoil that is naturally acidic. The high acidity in the soil causes nutrient deficiency and fixation,” said the report.
The ministry recommended soil development through use of agricultural lime, farmyard manure, crop rotation as well as regular soil testing to identify appropriate interventions.
“We are training farmers on good agricultural practices. Farmers are advised to use certified and recommended quantities of inputs during planting and apply top-dressing fertiliser,” said Mutiso.