Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 111, Issue 1, pp 21–32 | Cite as

Wheat nutrient response functions for the East Africa highlands

  • Athanase R. Cyamweshi
  • Leon N. Nabahungu
  • Catherine J. Senkoro
  • Catherine Kibunja
  • Athanase Mukuralinda
  • Kayuki C. Kaizzi
  • Simon M. Mvuyekure
  • John Kayumba
  • Keziah W. Ndungu-Magiroi
  • Mary N. Koech
  • Charles S. Wortmann
Original Article


Wheat (Triticum æstivum L.) is an important East Africa highland crop but yields are low. Information is scarce for optimization of fertilizer use. Research was conducted to determine yield response functions for N, P and K, and to diagnose Mg–S–Zn–B deficiencies. The average grain yield increase in Rwanda due to N application was 1.5 Mg ha−1 with a mean economically optimal rate (EOR) of 68 kg ha−1 N. In Kenya and Tanzania, yield was increased by 29% with EOR N for two SY but unaffected by N rate for four other SY which on average had 50% of the soil organic C (SOC) as the N-responsive SY. Yield was increased, on average, with application of P and K by 0.47 and 0.23 Mg ha−1, respectively, at EOR in Rwanda but effects were inconsistent for other SY where soil test K was higher than in Rwanda. Application of Mg–S–Zn–B resulted in 0.46 Mg ha−1 more yield in Rwanda but did not affect yield at other SY where the average soil test values for these nutrients was 35% higher than in Rwanda. If the financially constrained farmer opts to apply the affordable fertilizer to twice as much land at 50% EOR compared with 100% EOR, the mean yield increase is reduced by 27% but production and PCR are increased by 43 and 72%, respectively. Nutrient effects were relatively consistent and positive in Rwanda, but less and less inconsistent elsewhere with generally less SOC, more K–Mg–S–Zn–B availability, and often lower yields.


Asymptotic function Economic optimum rate Highland Net return to fertilizer use Trace elements 



kg of wheat required to equal the cost of 1 kg of nutrient applied


The economically optimal rate of nutrient application or the rate expected to maximize net return per hectare to nutrient application


Profit to cost ratio, or the net benefit divided by the added costs due to application of a nutrient (CIMMYT 1988)





OFRA is a partnership of 13 African countries, funded by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), managed by CAB International and implemented with technical and scientific advisory support from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to enable great farmer profitability from fertilizer use. We acknowledge the contributions of research support technicians and the farmers who cooperated in conducting field trials.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Athanase R. Cyamweshi
    • 1
  • Leon N. Nabahungu
    • 2
  • Catherine J. Senkoro
    • 3
  • Catherine Kibunja
    • 4
  • Athanase Mukuralinda
    • 5
  • Kayuki C. Kaizzi
    • 6
  • Simon M. Mvuyekure
    • 1
  • John Kayumba
    • 1
  • Keziah W. Ndungu-Magiroi
    • 7
  • Mary N. Koech
    • 7
  • Charles S. Wortmann
    • 8
  1. 1.Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB)KigaliRwanda
  2. 2.International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA)ButareDemocratic Republic of the Congo
  3. 3.Mlingano Agricultural Research CentreTangaTanzania
  4. 4.Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO)-KabeteNairobiKenya
  5. 5.World Agroforestry CentreHuyeRwanda
  6. 6.National Agricultural Research Laboratories (NARL),-KawandaKampalaUganda
  7. 7.KALRO- KitaleKitaleKenya
  8. 8.Department of Agronomy and HorticultureUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA

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