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Fertilizers help Zimbabwean farmers to increase crop yields

EurekAlert (13-Apr-2007)

Fertilizers help Zimbabwean farmers to increase crop yields

EurekAlert (13-Apr-2007)

A little bit of manure and fertilizer can considerably improve the perspectives of Zimbabwean smallholder farmers in semi-arid regions. Nitrogen availability was found to be the factor that most limited farmers’ efforts to increase cereal yields. Dutch-sponsored researcher Bongani Ncube demonstrated this after four years of research on smallholder farms of her home country.

Ncube studied smallholder farms in the southwest of Zimbabwe. She mapped resource flows and carried out field experiments. The Zimbabwean semi-arid regions are dry and farmers face food shortages every season. Yet not water management but the supply of fertilizer, especially nitrogen, was found to be the most important factor in increasing cereal yields. Zimbabwean farmers in the semi-arid regions hardly use fertilizer and manure at present. Chemical fertilizer is expensive and manure is not readily available. Moreover, little is known about the correct use of these nutrient sources in dry climates.

Nitrogen The main issue when cultivating soil is the nitrogen balance. Continually cultivating the same crop disrupts this balance. With field experiments, Ncube demonstrated that a little bit of basal manure, and nitrogen fertilizer added as top dressing improved the maize yield by about one-hundred percent in a good rainy season and by up to fifty percent in drier seasons.

Story Source  : Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research

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