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Soil fertility decline is common among smallholder dairy farmers in Kenya.
The decline has led to a decrease in crop yields including fodder and hence low performance of dairy cows.
The resource poor smallholder farmers, affected by the high prices and erratic availability of agricultural inputs are unable to afford the use of inorganic fertilizer to mitigate the soil fertility for better yields.
The use of slurry manure from the zero-grazing units by the farmers could be a viable option to improve pasture/ fodder yields and ultimately increase performance of dairy cows if skills for improved management are developed.
A field survey conducted in July 2005 by the author to explore the possibilities and benefits of implementing improved management methods of manure among the smallholder farmers in Bahati revealed that the potential of manure as a farm input depends on how well it is managed from the time it is deposited by the cow through to its application in the crop or pasture field.
William Ayako is a Research Scientist with Kenya Agricultural Research Institutes deployed at the National Animal Husbandry Research Station Naivasha.
He is the Head of Dairy Cattle Research Section under the Dairy Research Program.
He graduated with masters degree in Tropical Animal Production in 2005 from Larenstein University,the Netherlands
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