Rice farmers in Dadome, near Adidome, have embraced a new fertiliser application technology which is helping them to save cost while enhancing yield.
The Urea Deep Placement (UDP) technology of fertiliser application involves the placement of super granule fertilisers known as briquettes near the root zone, in between four plants, that allows the fertiliser to deliver more nutrients to the plant throughout the growth cycle.
The farmers in Dadome, who have formed an association, Mawuko Farmers Association, as nucleus farmers to feed the Prairie Volta Ltd, a rice production company, benefited from a demonstration project under the West Africa Fertiliser Programme (WAFP), which is being financed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by International Fertiliser Development Centre (IFDC) in partnership with Africa Fertiliser and Agribusiness Partnerships (AFAP).
During a UDP Technology Demonstration Field Day at Dadome in the North Tongu District of the Volta Region, the rice farmers, who are members of the association, explained that on demonstration beds where the UDP fertiliser technology was applied, the rice sprouted, fruited and blossomed better.
The Chief of Party of the WAFP, Dr Kofi Debrah, said that farmers in the country and most parts of sub-Sahara Africa used only a single fertiliser recommendation irrespective of their soil fertility and agro-ecology.
“These blanket fertiliser recommendations concentrate on the macronutrients – nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium and usually do not include the secondary nutrients – sulphur, magnesium and calcium, nor micronutrients, zinc, copper, manganese, iron, boron and molybdenum,” Dr Debrah explained.
Soil fertility in Ghana and most parts of Africa has reduced, leading to poor yield. The situation is worsened by the broadcasting application method of fertiliser, which yields only about a third of its intended results.
The UDP technology has, therefore, been found to be most appropriate for providing the needed nutrients to the food crops, with only 10 per cent waste.
The waste associated with the urea broadcast application leads to high cost of the input which contributes to robbing farmers of the benefits of their hard efforts. Another challenge is lack of access to the right type of fertiliser.
“Among the causes of low fertiliser use by farmers are the high costs of fertiliser, compared to prices farmers obtain when they sell their produce and in several instances, farmers have to travel long distances to buy fertiliser,” Dr Debrah observed.
He explained that the WAFP was, among other things, promoting the integrated soil fertility management of which UDP technology was part.
The UDP technology was first introduced in Ghana in 2012 in the Northern Region. Mawuko farmers are the first beneficiaries in the Volta Region.
The President of the association, Mr Ferguson Afelete, said: “what we have realised is that applying the Urea Super Granules leads to higher yields of between 18 per cent to 50 per cent; also the cost of fertiliser is reduced between 20 per cent to 30 per cent. This means that the farmers’ productivity is better.”
It, therefore, guaranteed more income for the farmers to meet input costs and enhance their livelihoods, he added.
In addition, the environment is protected as the fertiliser broadcasting under the ordinary application, leached into streams and rivers, rendering it unfriendly to the environment. The UDP, on the other hand, placed near the root zone of the plant, remained in the soil and gradually released nutrients directly to the plant throughout its growth cycle.
Source: Graphic Online