Landscape-based nutrient application in wheat and teff mixed farming systems of Ethiopia: farmer and extension agent demand driven approach

Desta, G and Legesse, G and Agegnehu, G and Tigabie, A and Nagaraji, S and Gashaw, T and Degefu, T and Ayalew, B and Addis, A and Getachew, T and Managido, D and Bazie, Z and Abathun, T and Abera, A and Dache, A and Adissie, S and Sebnie, W and Feyisa, T and Yakob, G and Amede, T and Rooyen, A V and Jat, M L and Harawa, R (2023) Landscape-based nutrient application in wheat and teff mixed farming systems of Ethiopia: farmer and extension agent demand driven approach. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems (TSI), 7. 01-19. ISSN 2571-581X

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Introduction: Adapting fertilizer use is crucial if smallholder agroecosystems are to attain the sustainable development goals of zero hunger and agroecosystem resilience. Poor soil health and nutrient variability characterize the smallholder farming systems. However, the current research at the field scale does not account for nutrient variability across landscape positions, posing significant challenges for targeted nutrient management interventions. The purpose of this research was to create a demand-driven and co-development approach for diagnosing farmer nutrient management practices and determining landscape-specific (hillslope, mid-slope, and foot slope) fertilizer applications for teff and wheat. Method: A landscape segmentation approach was aimed to address gaps in farm-scale nutrient management research as well as the limitations of blanket recommendations to meet local nutrient requirements. This approach incorporates the concept of interconnected socio-technical systems as well as the concepts and procedures of co-development. A smart mobile app was used by extension agents to generate crop-specific decision rules at the landscape scale and forward the specific fertilizer applications to target farmers through SMS messages or print formats. Results and discussion: The findings reveal that farmers apply more fertilizer to hillslopes and less to mid- and foot slopes. However, landscape-specific fertilizer application guided by crop-specific decision rules via mobile applications resulted in much higher yield improvements, 23% and 56% at foot slopes and 21% and 6.5% at mid slopes for wheat and teff, respectively. The optimized net benefit per hectare increase over the current extension recommendation was $176 and $333 at foot slopes and $159 and $64 at mid slopes for wheat and teff (average of $90 and $107 for wheat and teff), respectively. The results of the net benefit-to-cost ratio (BCR) demonstrated that applying landscape-targeted fertilizer resulted in an optimum return on investment ($10.0 net profit per $1.0 investment) while also enhancing nutrient use efficiency across the three landscape positions. Farmers are now cognizant of the need to reduce fertilizer rates on hillslopes while increasing them on parcels at mid- and foot-slope landscapes, which have higher responses and profits. As a result, applying digital advisory to optimize landscape-targeted fertilizer management gives agronomic, economic, and environmental benefits. The outcomes results of the innovation also contribute to overcoming site-specific yield gaps and low nutrient use efficiency, they have the potential to be scaled if complementing innovations and scaling factors are integrated.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Global Research Program - Resilient Farm and Food Systems
Research Program : East & Southern Africa
Uncontrolled Keywords: landscape segmentation, site-specific, optimized fertilizer use, agronomic gains, economic gains
Subjects: Others > Field Experiments
Others > Fertilizers
Others > Agricultural Economics
Depositing User: Mr Nagaraju T
Date Deposited: 01 Nov 2023 04:19
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 04:19
Official URL:
Projects: Excellence in Agronomy (EIA) CGIAR initiative led by IITA.
Funders: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Acknowledgement: We acknowledge the Ministry of Agriculture, the demand partner of the use case, particularly the district agriculture offices and extension agents in the districts of Basonawerana, Gozamin, West Belesa, Kewet, Lemo, Analemo, Doyogena, Bolososore, Sekoru, and Bora. Special thanks go to National Agriculture Research System (NARS) partners as well as the collaborating research centers, for their contributions to the validation and piloting activities. We appreciate the farmers who volunteer to work with us.
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