Nematode assemblages as a valuable bio-indicator tool for assessing agro-ecosystem soil health

Pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan L.) and maize (Zea mays L.) are important food crops in developing countries including Kenya due to their multiple benefits. Mr Samuel Maina, a PhD student in Ecology from the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Embu, under the supervision of Dr. Hannah Karuri and Dr. Julius Mugweru, used nematode based indices to assess the soil health status of maize-pigeon pea agro-ecosystems in eight regions in Mbeere South, Embu County, Kenya. Specifically, soil samples were collected from Gachuriri, Irabari, Kanduu, Kangeta, Kangungi, Kaninwathiga, Karimari and Mutugu regions. Based on the results, the soil food web in seven regions had better soil health conditions compared to Irabari region. In order to improve the soil health status in Irabari region, it will be essential to adopt practices such as application of manure which enhances the population of nematode functional groups that contribute to stability and resilience of an ecosystem.

This article is a summary of a published paper entitled “Nematode assemblages, food web indices and metabolic footprints in maize-pigeon pea agro-ecosystems” published in Heliyon and is available via the link

This study was funded by the CIRCLE research uptake fund.