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Kenyan Soils Rejuvenated by Mucuna Bean’s Nitrogen Fixation

A unique bean variety is helping fertilize degraded soils due to its nitrogen-fixing traits. Mucuna beans are capable of fixing 150kgs of nitrogen for every hectare.

Kenyan soils are currently ranked amongst the worst due to exploitation and overuse of conventional fertilizers.

Soil Regeneration Through Abundant Organic Matter:

Mucuna not only fixes nitrogen but also contributes to the production of approximately 35 tonnes of organic matter per hectare. By incorporating mucuna as a cover crop or green manure and allowing its leaf material to decompose naturally in the fields, farmers are witnessing the rejuvenation of their soils. This practice enhances soil structure, moisture retention, and nutrient availability, resulting in improved crop growth and yield.

Maize Yields Soar with Mucuna Bean Intercropping

Organic farmers in the Njoro area of Nakuru have relied on the crop to fertilize their soils by intercropping it with staple crops like maize. Farmers in the area have reported a doubling of maize yields by just having mucuna bean in their farms even as their counterparts struggle with the application of conventional fertilizers.

Weed Suppression and Soil Erosion Prevention

The bean is also effective in smothering weeds, which are otherwise difficult to control.

“We learned about the use of the bean from our forefathers who never used any commercial fertilizers yet low yields and weeds were alien to them. To those who have crossed over to our side, the results have been instant and commendable,” said Kariuki Mworia one of the farmers who has never used conventional fertilizers since he started farming.

The ability of mucuna to increase yields compared to conventional fertilizer is evident in the health of maize crops among different farmers in Njoro. 

The bean has also been hailed for its ability to hold the soil together, therefore, preventing soil erosion has become the determinant of who gets higher yields in Njoro. “We are still apprehensive about trying the crop because we are not yet convinced and we hear it is poisonous to livestock,” said Mercy Waithera another farmer.

The downside of the bean however is that it is not ideal for human and animal consumption. However, breeding efforts are underway to try and further improve the digestibility of mucuna.

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