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Smallholder farmers to practice soil fertility for improved yield

Smallholder farmers have been advised to practice Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) to maximise productivity and profit in their farming activities.

The ISFM options introduced were organic manure (poultry litter), a combination of poultry litter and inorganic fertilizer, and recommended inorganic fertilizer (NPK).

These were introduced at a field day at Yeliyiri in the Wa West District of the Upper West Region, organised by the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-SARI), under the Modernising Agriculture in Ghana (MAG) project.

Dr George Mahama, a Senior Research Scientist at CSIR- SARI, Wa Station, said the study was to introduce farmers to the various ISFM options for maximising the agronomic use efficiency of the applied nutrients and improved yield, even under adverse rainfall patterns.

The first principle of the integrated soil fertility management focused on the agronomy of crops and inorganic fertilizers, which targeted the formulation, placement, rate, and timing of inorganic nutrient inputs.

The second principle targets interventions on organic resource management, including the return of crop residues, manure, compost, and other types of organic wastes, next to rotation or intercropping with legumes and use of plant growth promoting micro-organisms.

Other amendments that may be needed to lift limitations to productivity such as soil acidity, micronutrient deficiency, erosion, soil compaction, or pests and diseases, form the third principle.

Dr Mahama, also an Agronomist, observed that despite the significant benefits of the ISFM for ensuring food security, improving household income, and environmental protection, its adoption and practices by farmers was low and incomplete, especially among smallholder farmers.

The scarcity of organic residues, farmers’ competition for organic (plant) residues with livestock, and lack of information about soil fertility and rainfall forecasts were some of the challenges hindering the adoption of ISFM in the region, he said.

The farmers and agricultural extension agents who participated in the field day observed that the combination of the organic and inorganic fertilizer offered higher crop yields.

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