Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 78, Issue 2, pp 139-150

First online:

Influence of improved fallow systems and phosphorus application on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi symbiosis in maize grown in western Kenya

  • Mary Nyawira MuchaneAffiliated withBotany Department, National Museums of Kenya Email author 
  • , Bashir JamaAffiliated withWorld Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)
  • , Caleb OthienoAffiliated withDepartment of Soil Science, Moi University
  • , Robert OkaleboAffiliated withDepartment of Soil Science, Moi University
  • , David OdeeAffiliated withKenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI)
  • , Joseph MachuaAffiliated withKenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI)
  • , Jan JansaAffiliated withSwiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


A field study was carried out on a six-year-old on-farm field trial during long-rains season (April–August) 2003 to investigate the effect of improved fallow systems and phosphorus application on arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi (AMF) symbiosis in maize. The trial comprised of maize rotated with a fast growing leguminous Crotalaria grahamiana fallow and a non-leguminous Tithonia diversifolia fallow for 3 years followed by continuous maize. The experiment was randomized complete block design with three cropping (continuous maize, Crotalaria fallow and Tithonia fallow) systems and two phosphorus levels (0 and 50 kg P/ha). AMF colonization in maize roots, maize yield and macro-nutrients uptake were recorded. Phosphorus applications improved (P < 0.05) early (<8 weeks old maize) AMF colonization, nutrient uptake and maize yield in improved fallow systems. Greater differences due to phosphorus application were noted in maize in Tithonia fallow than in Crotalaria fallow. Following phosphorus application, a positive relationship existed between early AMF colonization and maize yield (r = 0.38), and phosphorus and nitrogen uptake (r = 0.40 and r = 0.43, respectively), demonstrating the importance of phosphorus fertilization in enhancing low-input technologies (improved fallows systems) in phosphorus deficient and acidic soils of western Kenya.


Arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi Crotalaria fallow Continuous maize Phosphorus Tithonia fallow