Raising the productivity of smallholder farms under semi-arid conditions by use of small doses of manure and nitrogen: a case of participatory research

Ncube, B and Dimes, J P and Twomlow, S J and Mupangwa, W and Giller, K E (2007) Raising the productivity of smallholder farms under semi-arid conditions by use of small doses of manure and nitrogen: a case of participatory research. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, 77 (1). pp. 53-67. ISSN 1385-1314

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Participatory on-farm trials were conducted for three seasons to assess the benefits of small rates of manure and nitrogen fertilizer on maize grain yield in semi-arid Tsholotsho, Zimbabwe. Two farmer resource groups conducted trials based on available amounts of manure, 3 t ha-1 (low resource group) and 6 t ha-1 (high resource group). Maize yields varied between 0.15 t ha-1 and 4.28 t ha-1 and both absolute yields and response to manure were strongly related to rainfall received across seasons (P<0.001). The first two seasons were dry while the third season received above average rainfall. Maize yields within the seasons were strongly related to N applied (R2=0.77 in season 1, and R2=0.88 and 0.83 in season 3) and other beneficial effects of manure, possibly availability of cations and P. In the 2001-2002 season (total rainfall 478 mm), application of 3 and 6 t ha-1 of manure in combination with N fertilizer increased grain yield by about 0.14 and 0.18 t ha-1, respectively. The trend was similar for the high resource group in 2002-2003 although the season was very dry (334 mm). In 2003-2004, with good rainfall (672 mm), grain yields were high even for the control plots (average 1.2 and 2.7 t ha-1). Maize yields due to manure applications at 3 and 6 t ha-1 were 1.96 and 3.44 t ha-1, respectively. Application of 8.5 kg N ha-1 increased yields to 2.5 t ha-1 with 3 t ha-1 of manure, and to 4.28 t ha-1 with 6 t ha-1 of manure. In this area farmers do not traditionally use either manure or fertilizer on their crops, but they actively participated in this research during three consecutive seasons and were positive about using the outcomes of the research in future. The results showed that there is potential to improve livelihoods of smallholder farmers through the use of small rates of manure and N under semi-arid conditions

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Cattle manure, Maize yields, Nitrogen fertilizer, On-farm research, Smallholder farming
Subjects: Others > Maize
Depositing User: Ms K Syamalamba
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2011 08:56
Last Modified: 02 Jan 2012 07:46
URI: http://oar.icrisat.org/id/eprint/3664
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10705-006-9045-7
Funders: International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, Netherlands Foundation for Science in the Tropics(WOTRO)
Acknowledgement: The authors are grateful to ICRISAT and the Netherlands Foundation for Science in the Tropics (WOTRO) for funding the research. Our appreciation also goes to Mr. E. Bepete the AREX officer for the area, Sevi Dube our field assistant and other ICRISAT staff who helped during pegging the plots and soil sampling. We also thank Dr. L. Hove for useful discussions. Finally we thank the farmers for providing their fields and time, and also for their intellectual contributions during experimentation.
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