Experiences of soil fertility management through legume based farmer participatory experimentation in Malawi

Soil fertility, participatory research, green manure, best bet. Soil infertility is the most outstanding threat to agricultural productivity in Malawi. This is mainly due to low use of organic and inorganic materials to restore fertility. Consequently, famers and researchers are developing alternative interventions to manage soil productivity. The risk management project in Malawi is one such initiative that has recently joined in the search of soil fertility management technologies in Malawi. The overall objective of the project is to empower farmers to gain experience in experimenting and providing feedback of best bet legume technologies to rehabilitate degraded soils. This study was conducted in Chisepo in Central Malawi during the 2001/2002 and 2002/2003 seasons. Soils are mostly sandy and sand loamy soils. Annual rainfall is between 600-800mm. the study used the mother-baby trial approach in implementing the farmer and researcher managed trials. The legumes were grown on either sandy soils or sandy loam soils to compare soil rehabilitation benefits of the different technologies. Farmers were encouraged to incorporate the legume crop residues in order to maximize the residual nitrogen benefit to the cereal crop. Finally, feedback sessions were held with farmers to elicit farmer perceptions on the performance of the different legumes.
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Southern Africa
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