Main Article Content
In order to reduce the dependence on chemical fertilizers, alternative methods should be developed which will provide nutrients to plants. The increased cost of inorganic fertilizers, including their inability to condition the soil and their polluting effect on the environment, has directed attention towards other sources of soil fertilization to enhance maize production. Hence, this study was carried out to determine the effect of Effective Micro-organisms (biofertilizer) comprising Pseudomonas spp, Saccharomyces spp, Bacillus subtilis and Lactobacillus spp. on the growth and yield components of Zea mays L. The trial plots measured 4 m×3 m and the experimental design was randomized complete block design (RCBD) with 4 treatments namely; Biogrovit (biofertilizer) alone; conventional fertilizer alone, Biogrovit plus conventional fertilizer combined and the control. It was replicated three times. Biogrovit was soil drenched in plants at an interval of 14 days in crops established at two sites in Kirinyaga and Machakos County. Significant differences were observed in the leaf area where application of the biofertilizer had the largest (995 cm2) while the least was under the control (529 cm2). The grain yield was notably influenced by application of treatments at both sites, where the highest was recorded under the biofertilizer in Kirinyaga (8.6 t/ha) and Machakos (7.77 t/ha) which was not significantly different from that of the conventional fertilizers in Kirinyaga and Machakos at 7.55 t/ha and 6.87 t/ha respectively. The control had the lowest grain yield in both sites. The 1000-grain mass, ear length, cob weight, number of cobs per plant and the number of kernels per cob directly influenced the actual grain yield as they were higher for both biofertilizer and chemical treatments. The application of Biofertilizer and conventional fertilizer combined at full rates were antagonistic as most of the parameters tested had lower counts than when independently applied. Therefore, the findings of this study suggest that biofertilizers enhance the growth of maize and as such its use should be encouraged because it is eco-friendly.