Fertilizer research and responsible implementation
Agriculture is the major livelihood and income earner for smallholder farmers. However, low crop yields and low nutrient-use efficiency amongst smallholder farmers threaten the sustainable production of food crops.
The adoption and application of fertilizers alone may not drive the needed
productivity in farming systems in the Savannah agroecological zones of
northern Ghana. More room exists for closing the ecological yield gap through
the adoption of on-farm agronomic practices which have the potential to improve
soil nutrient uptake and efficient utilization by crops. Agronomic practices
such as the use of improved varieties, effective control of weeds and pests,
minimum tillage, optimum sowing time, recommended crop spacing, organic
fertilization and mulching present opportunities for improving soil physical
and chemical properties while providing a conducive environment for the
enhanced uptake of nutrients.
In this study, a series of on-farm, farmer managed experiments coupled with surveys will be conducted to understand farmers’ perception of soil fertility and farmers’ decisions on implementation of agronomic practices and their effect on crop yield and soil fertility. This study integrates the above-mentioned agronomic effects with social effects such as labour allocation, skill and knowledge requirements, costs, and benefits, to understand farmers decisions on soil fertility management. Farmers implementing mulching and organic manure fertilization will be given mineral fertilizer packages and improved varieties to find out how they decide what crops to cultivate, how they interpret and apply knowledge about fertilizers, how they perceive the effects of fertilizers and how their perceptions and practices relate to expert knowledge.