Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 81–88 | Cite as

Effect of integrated use of inorganic fertilizer and organic manures on bacterial wilt incidence (BWI) and tuber yield in potato production systems on hill slopes of central Kenya

  • Linus M. M. Muriithi 
  • Irungu J. W. 


Bacterial wilt (BW) caused byRalstonia solanacearum is one of the most damaging diseases of potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) in Kenya and worldwide. In Kenya, potato tuber yield losses due to BW infection are estimated at 50–100%. Low soil fertility is also one of the most important constraints limiting potato production in central Kenya highlands. Farmers tackle this problem through use of inorganic fertilisers and organic manures, both of which amend the soil environment to influence bacterial wilt development. Undecomposed organic manures can also introduce the pathogen into a clean field. Between short rains 1999 and 2000, 10 on-farm extension-researcher-farmer-designed and farmer-managed trials were done at Kianjuki catchment in Embu District. The objective was to use farmers’ participatory research approach and select the most suitable organic and inorganic fertiliser combination(s) with lowest BWI and acceptable usable tuber yields, and also to demonstrate use of some components of integrated disease management methods in reduction of disease incidence and spread. Seven treatments were proposed, presented to the farmers for discussion and the most relevant four were selected for evaluation.

A newly released potato variety ‘Asante’ was planted during the short rains 1999 and long rains 2000. BWI didn’t result in significant differences between treatments but the tuber yields were significantly different in short rains of 1999 and 2000. During short rains 2000, both BWI and tuber yields and unusable tubers differed significantly between treatments. The results confirmed that well-decomposed manures or manures from pathogen-free areas can be used in combination with inorganic fertilisers to improve soil fertility and potato tuber yields in smallholder farms without influencing BWI. Use of certified seed tubers in pathogen free field and following recommended field sanitation measures resulted in apparently bacterial wilt free crop. Considering the high cost of inorganic fertiliser and its negative effects on the environment, reduced usage at half the recommended rates combined with half rates of FYM is feasible option friendly to the farmer, soil and environment. The interviewed farmers also ranked the option as the most appropriate combination for soil fertility improvement for potato production in smallholder farms.


Bacterial wilt incidence ralstonia solanacearu inorganic fertilizers farmyard manures soil fertility potato and Kenya 


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Copyright information

© Institute of Moutain Hazards and Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Science Press 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linus M. M. Muriithi 
    • 1
  • Irungu J. W. 
    • 1
  1. 1.Kenya Agricultural Research InstituteEmbu

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