Date of Graduation

Fall 2022


Master of Science in Agriculture


College of Agriculture

Committee Chair

Michael Burton


Land degradation and urbanization are among the top factors pushing the Kenyan Maasai community into an unstable future, with food insecurity and poverty amidst the most fragile components. Implementing conservation agricultural techniques into the Maasai nomadic lifestyle could potentially lead to a diversification of finances and food security. Intercropping is one technique of conservation agriculture that could provide the Maasai both. The main objective of this study is to evaluate the effects of creating an intercropped environment between rhizoma peanut and grain sorghum. A greenhouse study was conducted from late 2020 to 2021 in an effort to investigate the effects of the rhizoma peanut, a perennial living mulch, on the growth of grain sorghum, in three different soil types (soil loam (SL), clay (CY), and sand (SA)) and fertilization methods (fertilized pots without rhizoma peanut (FN), fertilized pots with rhizoma peanut (FP), and unfertilized pots with rhizoma peanut (UP)). Sorghum plant height, leaf collar number, and relative chlorophyll SPAD estimates were collected throughout the study. SL and FP units produced taller sorghum plants and the most leaf collars at 35 days after planting (DAP). This significance could mean that starter fertilizer at time of planting helped increase the growth rate of the seedlings. However, FN units produced higher SPAD estimates which could mean that the rhizoma peanut acts as more of a competitor for nitrogen (N) than the sorghum. Alternatively, a field study was conducted in 2021 to explore the effects of intercropping grain sorghum into an established plot of rhizoma peanut. Differing mowing methods (mowed, scalped, and unmowed) to simulate grazing of the rhizoma peanut and starter fertilization post- planting of the grain sorghum were applied as treatments. There was no significance difference between mowed and scalped treatments, which could imply that any level of rhizoma peanut mowing would benefit young grain sorghum seedlings. All fertilized mowed treatments produced taller sorghum seedlings which could be a result of decomposing rhizoma peanut clippings at time of planting. Future studies with a longer timeframe would be needed to evaluate the possible effects of this intercropped environment.


intercropping, rhizoma peanut, Ecoturf, grain sorghum, sustainable agriculture, Kenyan agriculture, cover cropping, perennial intercropped systems, perennial forage

Subject Categories

Agricultural Science | Agronomy and Crop Sciences


© Erika HM Cooperman

Open Access