To enhance and synergize research
capacity for biotechnology
innovation and development,
regulation, and public understanding
on biotech-led agricultural
and health solutions in Kenya.
Although commercial fertilizers and farm manure are often used in smallholder farms, proper timing is most important with nitrogen fertilizer. In some locations, a large part of the nutrient may be lost if it is applied too long before the crop is planted, especially with nitrogen and phosphorus. Phosphorus application is also most efficient when made at or near planting time, especially with soils low in phosphorus. However, nutrients (especially nitrogen) that is not taken up by plants or retained in soil organic matter will “leak” from agricultural systems, contributing to environmental challenges such as greenhouse-gas emissions in the form of nitrous oxide (N2O) and watershed pollution in the form of high nitrate (NO3) concentrations in water.
Soil nitrate concentrations can increase significantly when applied and mineralized nitrogen levels exceed the plant’s nitrogen use. Nitrate in runoff from heavily fertilized agricultural land can reach rivers and streams, raising concerns about drinking-water quality and the eutrophication of water bodies. Smallholders need nutrient management skills to use nutrients wisely for optimum economic benefit, while minimizing impact on the environment. Management practices that reduce total nutrient inputs, increase the utilization of applied fertilizer by crops, and enhance nutrient stability in soil must be developed and adopted.