Use of composts to improve soil properties and crop productivity under low input agricultural system in West Africa

E. Ouédraogo, A. Mando, N.P. Zombré

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Abstract

Lack of adequate nutrient supply and poor soil structure are the principal constraints to crop production under low input agriculture systems of West Africa. Experiments at two sites (Mediga and Yimtenga) were conducted in Burkina Faso to assess the impact of compost on improving crop production and soil properties. In the first experiment, compost was applied at the rate of 0 and 10 Mg ha-1 in Mediga on a Ferric Lixisol, and 5 and 0 Mg ha-1 on a Ferric-gleyic Lixisol in Yimtenga. A second experiment was conducted in Yimtenga to assess the role of compost in mitigating the effect of delay in sowing on crop performance. 0 and 5 Mg ha-1 compost plots were sown within the normal period for sowing sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L. Moench) and with a delay of 1 month. A randomised block design was used with four replications for the two experiments. Semi-structured interviews were used to study socio-economic issues of compost technology. No significant difference in soil organic matter content was found between treatments receiving compost and no-compost. However, compost application increased soil cation exchange capacity (CEC) from 4 to 6 cmol kg-1. Soil pH was also increased by the compost application. Sorghum yield tripled on the 10 Mg ha-1 compost plots and increased by 45 n the 5 Mg ha-1 compost plots, compared to no-compost plots. Compost application mitigated the negative effects of a delay in sowing. The study showed that farmers were aware of the role of compost in sustaining yield and improving soil quality. However, lack of equipment and adequate organic material for making compost, land tenure and the intensive labour required for making compost are major constraints for the adoption of compost technology. It was concluded that compost application could contribute to increase food availability in the Sahel and therefore, efforts should be made to alleviate the socio-economic constraints to the adoption of compost technology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-266
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Volume84
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2000

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