Assessing the impact of farming systems and land use change on dryland plant biodiversity: a case study of Mwala and Yatta sub counties in Machakos county, Kenya

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International Journal of Environment, Agriculture and Biotechnology
The study focused on assessing the impact of farming systems and land use change on dryland biodiversityand documented the views, knowledge and practice of the farmers on the role of biodiversity in the semi-arid midlandsof Eastern Kenya. A descriptive survey design was employed to collect data on famers’ views, knowledge andpractices from 120 respondents from four locations in Mwala and Yatta Sub Counties in Machakos County. NestedQuadrat method was employed to determine levels of loss of plant live forms in the cultivated and uncultivated areasin the four locations. The collected data was then analyzed using simple descriptive statistical such as percentages,frequency and means. Other methods used in the analysis included Logistic regression, Pearson Chi-square andt-tests. The study established that Households in the study areas understand the benefits of non-crop tree species(100%) and therefore grow the tree species (72%) and also conserve the indigenous species (88%). Results frommultivariate logistic regression analysis further showed that the age and level of education of the respondents werethe strongest statistically significant factors affecting the farmers’ knowledge on above ground biodiversity and itsrelevance to crop production (p < 0.005). It was also established that mixed farming system was the main farmingsystem practiced by 98% of the households in Mwala and Yatta sub counties, with crops and livestock on the samefarm. It was established that average population of plant live forms (grass, shrubs and trees) in the study sites wasfound to be significantly different between cultivated and uncultivated zones in the four locations (p <0.005). It isconcluded that human activities such as farming increases loss of plant live forms and interferes with above groundbiodiversity and reduces the effectiveness of crop-livestock integration in the production systems due to reducedgrazing areas.
International Journal of Environment, Agriculture and Biotechnology (IJEAB), Vol-4, Issue-5