Assessment of Trends in Land Cover and Crop Type Change Over Two Decades in Yatta Sub County, Kenya
Assessment of the distribution and dynamics of vegetation is becoming increasingly important in predicting the effects of climate change especially in the ASALs. It is therefore important to determine the effects of climate change on the crop type and land cover of the semi-arid regions hence the current study was carried out to assess the changes in crop type and land cover between 1986 – 2000 and 2000 – 2012 in Yatta District, Kenya. The LANDSAT TM, ETM and ETM+ satellite images of the years 1986, 2000 and 2012 in Yatta Sub-county were classified using ENVI 4.7 under supervised classification into different crop types and land cover. False colour composite using different reflective indexes (Bands 4, 3, 2) were used for the visual examination and interpretation of the images and maximum likelihood method of classification used. The percentage changes of crop types between 1986 – 2000 and 2000 – 2012 were determined using ENVI EX by comparing two images of different times. Questionnaires were administered to establish change detection from traditional (crops grown in the past but have been abandoned and underutilized) to introduced (crops grown as a result of technological advancement and economical advantage) crops in specific locations within the respondents farms. In 2012, maize and beans covered 72% while traditional crops (Sorghum, finger millet, cassava, dolichos, sweet potatoes, green grams, cowpeas, pigeon pea, and pumpkins), shrub land, bare land and riverine forest covered 14, 6, 3 and 5% of the study area, respectively. There was a significant (P=0.000) decline in the area under traditional crops (10.44 and 11.93 %), and a significant (P=0.000) increase in maize (4.70 and 22.73%), beans (23.83 and 2.6%) and bare land (3.42 and 1.03%) between the years 1986 – 2000 and 2000 – 2012 respectively. However, there was a significant (P=0.006) decrease in riverine vegetation (2.7 and 3.13 %) as well significant (P=0.000) decrease in shrub land (18.81 and 11.3 %) between the years 1986 – 2000 and 2000 – 2012 respectively. The observed trends will be important in guiding capacity builders on the crop type and land cover changes in the region who will in turn sensitize the community on the importance of traditional crops in view of the increasing climate variability and help in development of strategies for reintroduction of traditional crops in view of climate change and dwindling land resources as well as inform policies that will promote their reintroduction to achieve food security.
Crop Type Change, Climate Change, Introduced Crops, Landsat Images, Traditional Crops
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