Quantifying Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Carbon Stocks in Maize-Soybean Cropping Systems in Siaya County, Kenya



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Kenyatta University


As climate change continues to threaten ecosystems’ functions, agriculture remains one of the major source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are responsible for global warming. The major GHG in agriculture are; carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4). Unfortunately, agriculture is also one of the most affected sectors by climate change. There is therefore need to reduce emissions by adopting agricultural practices with mitigation potential. This is by enhancing soil carbon sequestration to offset emissions, or reducing emissions while safeguarding crop yields. However, little is still known about GHG quantities and intensities that major cropping systems in Kenya emmit. Site specific studies on GHG emissions to establish interventions for mitigation of climate change and enhanced crop production is therefore of essence. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of reduced tillage, crop residue retention and use of controlled release urea (CRU) in maize-soybean cropping systems on GHG emissions, soil N mineralization, organic carbon stocks and yields. Field measurements were carried out in a 13 year old researcher-managed trial in Siaya county, Kenya between March 2016 and January 2017. Four treatment combinations: ZT M-S NU (reduced tilage+maize soybean rotation+normal urea), ZT M-S CRU (reduced tillage+maize soybean rotation+controlled release urea), ZT M/S (reduced tillage+maize soybean intercrop without urea), CT M-S NU (Conventional tillage+maize soybean rotation+normal urea) were tested. The treatments were laid out in a randomized complete block design. DAYCENT model was used to simulate soil carbon, N2O emissions and maize yields. Results showed that daily fluxes of N2O ranged between -0.5-26 g ha-1 d-1 and -2-10 g ha-1 d-1 in the long and short rainy seasons respectively. Cumulatively, N2O emissions were between 0.2 - 0.7 kg ha-1 and 0.2 - 0.4 kg ha-1 in the long and short rainy seasons respectively. In the long rainy season, ZT M-S CRU had significantly higher N2O fluxes than the other treatments (P=0.05). In the short rainy season there were no significant effects of treatment on N2O emissions. In the long rainy season, CO2 daily fluxes were between 9 to 42 kg ha-1 while the cumulative emissions ranged between 2.5 to 2.8 t ha -1. In the short rainy season daily CO2 fluxes ranged between 6 to 30 kg ha-1 while cumulative emissions were 1.8- 2.5 t ha -1. There was no significant effect of treatment on CO2 emissions. Methane emissions were largely negative, and did not differ significantly among treatments. Yield was significantly low for ZT M/S but N2O emission intensities were not significantly different among treatments. DAYCENT simulated soil carbon and maize yield within the same ranges observed by measurement. N2O emissions by DAYCENT were higher during the peak of the seasons, but were comparable with observed measurements later in the seasons. Even though the long rainy season had higher N2O and CO2 emissions, the difference was not significant. These results indicate that emissions in the study area were low.These results further indicate that the current soil management practices in Siaya County influence GHG emissions, and the higher emissions observed with ZT M-S CRU in the long rainy season calls for further investigations of the effect of CRU on N2O emissions. The lower emission intensity shown by ZT M/S despite having lower yield points to the need of evaluating cropping systems for climate change mitigation and adaptation. These results indicated that DAYCENT model can be used to simulate soil carbon and yield but not N2O emissions in the study area.


A Thesis Submitted in Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Award of the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Integrated Soil Fertility Management) in the School of Agriculture and Enterprise Development, Kenyatta University. November, 2020