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Diagnosis of crop secondary and micro-nutrient deficiencies in sub-Saharan Africa

Abstract

Crop production in sub-Saharan Africa has numerous biotic and abiotic constraints, including nutrient deficiencies. Information on crop response to macronutrients is relatively abundant compared with secondary and micronutrients (SMN). Data from 1339 trial replicates of 280 field trials conducted from 2013 to 2016 in 11 countries were analyzed for the diagnosis of SMN deficiencies. The diagnostic data included relative yield response (RYR) and soil and foliar test results. The RYR to application of a combination of Mg, S, Zn, and B (Mg–S–Zn–B) relative to a comparable N–P–K treatment was a > 5% increase for 35% of the legume blocks and 60% of the non-legume blocks. The frequencies of soil test Zn, Cu, and B being below their critical level were 28, 2 and 10% for eastern and southern Africa, respectively, and 55, 58 and 89% for western Africa, while low levels for other SMN were less frequent. The frequency of foliar results indicating low availability were 58% for Zn, 16% for S and less for other SMN. The r2 values for relationships between soil test, foliar test and RYR results were < 0.035 with little complementarity except for soil test Zn and B with cassava (Manihot esculenta L. Crantz) RYR in Ghana, and foliar Zn with cereal RYR in Uganda. Positive RYR is powerful diagnostic information and indicative of good profit potential for well-targeted and well-specified SMN application. Geo-referenced RYR, soil analysis and foliar analysis results for diagnosis of SMN deficiencies in 11 countries of sub-Saharan Africa were generally not complementary.

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Abbreviations

ESA:

Eastern and southern Africa

Mg–S–Zn–B:

Application of a combination of Mg, S, Zn, and B at 10, 15, 2.5, and 0.5 kg ha−1, respectively

RYR:

The yield response due to Mg–S–Zn–B application relative to a treatment with comparable rates of N, P, and K applied

SMN:

Secondary and micro-nutrients

WA:

West Africa

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Acknowledgements

This research was conducted under the Optimizing Fertilizer Recommendations in Africa project (OFRA). OFRA was a 13-country research and extension network managed by CAB International and implemented with technical and scientific advisory support from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to improve farmer profitability from fertilizer use for food crop production. We acknowledge the contributions of the approximately 40 research teams that participated, their institutions, and the many farmers who cooperated in conducting this research. This research was funded by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Grant Number AGRA-SHP 2013-3 for project “Developing and fine-tuning fertilizer recommendations within an integrated soil fertility management framework”), complemented by financial, personnel and other in-kind contributions from the national agricultural research organizations.

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Correspondence to Charles S. Wortmann.

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Wortmann, C.S., Kaizzi, K.C., Maman, N. et al. Diagnosis of crop secondary and micro-nutrient deficiencies in sub-Saharan Africa. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 113, 127–140 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10705-018-09968-7

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Keywords

  • Relative yield response
  • Secondary and micronutrient
  • Foliar and soil test
  • Tropical crop
  • Tropical soils