Assessment of the impact of water erosion on productivity of maize in Kenya: an integrated modelling approach

TitleAssessment of the impact of water erosion on productivity of maize in Kenya: an integrated modelling approach
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsMantel, S, and van Engelen VWP
JournalLand Degradation and Development
Pagination577 - 592
Publication Languageeng
Keywordsland degradation, land evaluation, land quality indicator, simulation models
AbstractThe impact of degradation on functional properties of land and its productive capacity may vary between land units and soils. The present study explores the methodology for assessment of the impact of 20 years of simulated water erosion on production of maize in Kenya. It uses databases on soils, climate and crops and several models are combined to arrive at a productivity impact calculation. Outcome of the modelling exercise may serve as a basis for prioritizing land-use policies, conservation measures and research at a national level. The methodology comprises four steps: (1) creating basic evaluation units, by climatic zonation of soil and terrain units, (2) suitability assessment for low input and rainfed maize cultivation, (3) definition of a water erosion scenario, by translating computed water erosion risk into four classes of depth of topsoil lost over 20 years' time, (4) calculation of crop yield potentials for the current situation and with inclusion of the erosion scenario, accounting for lost nutrients through topsoil erosion and for altered soil physical conditions. The study shows that a major part of Kenya is too dry for growing maize. Potentially suitable areas for growing maize in Kenya generally have a high yield potential, but considerable yield gaps exist. Furthermore, these areas are highly vulnerable to water erosion. In the very steep patches of land in the central and central-western part of Kenya, water-limit yield decline projected over 20 years is over 50 per cent. Nutrient-limited yield potentials are even more affected by the loss of topsoil. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.