Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fertilizers Help Zimbabwean Farmers To Increase Crop Yields

Date:
April 14, 2007
Source:
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research
Summary:
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.

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.

Crop rotation

Crop rotation is another option that could provide a lot of benefit according to Ncube. This is the cultivation of different crops alternately in successive years. Leguminous crops, for example, fix nitrogen. This nitrogen remains in the soil and is taken up during the next season by sorghum, a type of grain that grows well in dry areas. Ncube proved that grain legumes can be grown successfully under the semi-arid conditions in Zimbabwe. These legumes were able to leave enough nitrogen in the ground, which doubled yields of sorghum the following season compared to sorghum-sorghum rotations. With a simulation model Ncube was once again able to show that nitrogen availability was more important in the rotation. These types of treatments often have a negative impact on water availability, yet here nitrogen was shown to be more important.

Bongani Ncube’s research was funded by NWO.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. "Fertilizers Help Zimbabwean Farmers To Increase Crop Yields." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 April 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070413111648.htm>.
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. (2007, April 14). Fertilizers Help Zimbabwean Farmers To Increase Crop Yields. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070413111648.htm
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. "Fertilizers Help Zimbabwean Farmers To Increase Crop Yields." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070413111648.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Working Mother DIY: Pumpkin Pom-Pom

Working Mother DIY: Pumpkin Pom-Pom

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) How to make a pumpkin pom-pom. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) The pair of rare white northern rhinos bring hope for their species as only six remain in the world. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Bear Cub Strolls Through Oregon Drug Store

Raw: Bear Cub Strolls Through Oregon Drug Store

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) Shoppers at an Oregon drug store were surprised by a bear cub scurrying down the aisles this past weekend. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Family Pleads for Pet Pig to Stay at Home

Family Pleads for Pet Pig to Stay at Home

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) The Johnson family lost their battle with the Chesterfield County, Virginia Planning Commission to allow Tucker, their pet pig, to stay in their home, but refuse to let the board keep Tucker away. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins