Combined Use of Organic and Inorganic Nutrient Sources Improved Maize Productivity and Soil Fertility in Southwestern Ethiopia

Abstract

Declining soil quality is among the factors leading to low crop yields in Sub-Saharan Africa. In this study, a 2 year on farm field experiment was carried out in Ethiopia to test whether integration of organic and inorganic fertilizer inputs increases soil quality, the nutrient balance and maize yields. Treatment combinations included 2 and 4 t ha−1 of compost (Com) and farm yard manure (FYM), and 50 and 100% of the recommended inorganic fertilizer (RIF). The treatments were laid out on 11 farmer fields where each farm served as a replicate. About 40% yield increase was recorded due to the combined use of 4 t ha−1 of Com along with 50% RIF compared to the 100% RIF. Soil quality was significantly improved in the top 20 cm of the soil due to application of FYM or Com combined with 50% RIF. Carbon and Nitrogen stocks were respectively 86 and 175% higher in the 4 t Com + 50% RIF compared to the control with no significant variation between farms. Further, the N and P partial balances were between 12.2 and 41.6 kg ha−1 year−1 and 10.2 and 17.4 kg ha−1 year−1 for N and P, respectively implying that the sites showed N and P-accumulations over the study period. Results suggest that nutrient depletion can be mitigated in smallholder systems through the use of locally available organic inputs, hence longer-term productivity of smallholders can be sustained.

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Acknowledgements

The research was financed by Capacity building for scaling up of evidence-based best practices in agricultural production in Ethiopia (CASCAPE) project, a Joint Ethio-Netherlands project for increasing agricultural productivity in Ethiopia. The support of the project team in overall activity of the research is highly acknowledged. Development agents and agricultural experts at district and sub-district levels are sincerely acknowledged for managing experimental plots. Prof Eric Smalling, Wagenngen University & Research, is duly acknowledged for his valid comments, expert contributions and reviewing the draft manuscript.

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All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection and analysis were performed by MM, AN, GB and EE. The first draft of the manuscript was written by MM and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Amsalu Nebiyu.

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Mamuye, M., Nebiyu, A., Elias, E. et al. Combined Use of Organic and Inorganic Nutrient Sources Improved Maize Productivity and Soil Fertility in Southwestern Ethiopia. Int. J. Plant Prod. (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42106-021-00144-6

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Keywords

  • Compost
  • Farmyard Manure (FYM)
  • Mineral fertilizer
  • Nutrient balances