This report details the methodology and background to a field experiment conducted in south central Uganda on soil fertlity. The study investigated the ratio of inorganic to organic fertilizer to optimize short-term crop response and long-term soil fertility improvements. Six plots on eight replicate farms were used in implementing six different fertilizer treatments for this experiment.
Context from the report: In south central Uganda, as in much of the developing world, smallholder farmers face severe natural resource constraints that threaten their ability to sustain either subsistence or commercial livelihoods. As population pressure reduces the amount of land available to fallow, continual mining of soil nutrients is resulting in steadily declining soil fertility. There is an urgent need for farmers to introduce more intensive techniques to replenish soil nutrients while reducing the land needed to produce the same crop yield. This issue is especially pertinent to commercializing farmers who aim to venture into high value crops, such as vegetables and specialty horticulture since these plants tend to feed heavily on soil nutrients. Despite these trends, smallholders find it difficult or undesirable to invest in additional fertilizers. This can be attributed to a number of reasons, such as the high price of both organic and inorganic fertilizers, poor understanding of the reasons and impact of fertilizing, lack of technical knowledge on correct application, and perceptions that certain types of fertilizers have undesirable effects on the soil (such as depleting the soil or carrying disease).