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Yield advantage of maize and artemisia intercrops in a sub-humid ecozone of Western Kenya

Chumba RKB, Owuor B, Mwai GN, Odhiambo GD, Netondo GW

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J. Bio. Env. Sci.2(12), 41-55, December 2012

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Abstract

A study of intercropping systems in the upper midland agroecological zone (AEZ) of western Kenya sought to evaluate yield patterns of different maize+artemisia spacing regimes as potential practices for enhancing biodiversity, through identification of the most beneficial system component. The experiment was carried out between 2009 and 2010 in two consecutive seasons. 8 treatments were laid out in a Randomized Complete Block Design (RCBD) design with 3 replications. The productivity of these systems was evaluated using Replacement Value of Intercropping (RVI), Cost-Benefit analysis (CBA) and Dominance Analysis (DA). The treatments had a significant effect on RVI (P<0.05). Spacing had a significant effect on artemisinin yield (P<0.05) in the short rains (SR), and exhibited a high mean of 0.8% in the long rains (LR). The treatments had no significant effect on chlorophyll content of both maize and artemisia (P>0.05), but there was a positive correlation between artemisinin and the chlorophyll content of artemisia (r2=0.7) in SR. CBA showed artemisia monocrops to be economically more advantageous than other treatments. Maize+artemisia intercrops exhibited a 60% to 70% more biological and economical yield advantage than maize monocrops under the same management system, using RVI. The identified biological yield advantages did not however translate into substantial economic efficiency and a combined CBA and DA proved only the maize sole crops to be uneconomical, whereby overall system productivity favoured T6 maize+artemisia intercrops (Ksh 76,900ha-1 or USD 905 ha-1) at current exchange rates. It is concluded that farmers will have a high yield advantage when they intercrop maize with artemisia to yield optimally on artemisinin and ensure food security, using a spacing of T6 artemisia 0.9m X 0.9m and Maize 0.9m X 0.75m in sub-humid areas of western Kenya or regions with similar AEZ.

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Yield advantage of maize and artemisia intercrops in a sub-humid ecozone of Western Kenya

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