Integrated soil fertility management: Operational definition and consequences for implementation and dissemination

B. Vanlauwe, A. Bationo, J. Chianu, K.E. Giller, R. Merckx, U. Mokwunye, O. Ohiokpehai, P. Pypers, R. Tabo, K.D. Shepherd, E.M.A. Smaling, P.L. Woomer, N. Sanginga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

258 Citations (Scopus)


Traditional farming systems in Sub-Saharan Africa depend primarily on mining soil nutrients. The African green revolution aims to intensify agriculture through the dissemination of integrated soil fertility management (ISFM). This paper develops a robust and operational definition of ISFM based on detailed knowledge of African farming systems and their inherent variability and of the optimal use of nutrients. The authors define ISFM as a set of soil fertility management practices that necessarily include the use of fertilizer, organic inputs and improved germplasm, combined with the knowledge on how to adapt these practices to local conditions, aimed at maximizing agronomic use efficiency of the applied nutrients and improving crop productivity. All inputs need to be managed in accordance with sound agronomic principles. The integration of ISFM practices into farming systems is illustrated with the dual-purpose grain legume-maize rotations in the savannas and fertilizer micro-dosing in the Sahel. Finally, the dissemination of ISFM practices is discussed
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-24
JournalOutlook on Agriculture
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • smallholder farms
  • western kenya
  • exploring diversity
  • resource-allocation
  • nutrient flows
  • variability
  • tropics
  • maize

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