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Title: Indigenous knowledge and approaches of soil fertility management among small scale farmers in Semi-Arid areas of South Africa
Authors: Materechera, Simeon Albert
Crop Science Department, Faculty of Agriculture, Science & Technology, North-West University
Keywords: Indigenous Knowledge
Nutrient Management
Semi-Arid Areas
Small Scale Farmers
Soil Fertility
Soil Nutrients
Issue Date: 2008
Publisher: Adnan Menderes Üniversitesi Ziraat Fakültesi Dergisi
Citation: Materechera, A. S. (2008). Indigenous knowledge and approaches of soil fertility management among small scale farmers in Semi-Arid areas of South Africa. International Meeting on Soil Fertility Land Management and Agroclimatology, Special Issue, 627-646.
Abstract: As is the case with many other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, crop production among small scale farmers, especially those in semi-arid regions of South Africa, is hampered by predominance of extreme climate (low, irregular & erratic rainfall), low inherent soil fertility and low use of mineral fertilizers. However, the small scale farmers have developed a range of indigenous knowledge and practices which have played a pivotal role in the management of soil fertility for sustaining crop productivity. This study sought to establish and document these strategies in four farming districts located in semi-arid areas of the country. It was found that farmers use locally adaptable and cost effective strategies including animal manure, ash from veld fire, agroforestry, fallow, termitaria, and earthworm castings to manage soil fertility. Some of these strategies were applied in specific niche locations and soils, times and crops. Furthermore, the farmers have developed local knowledge and criteria of classifying manure quality based on characteristics such as colour, wetness, presence of moulds and sand content that are used to make soil fertility management decisions. Analyses of samples of some of the organic resources used for soil fertility management confirmed their superior plant nutrient contents. The study concluded that research endeavors should recognize and build upon this wealth of indigenous knowledge and practices of soil fertility management by small scale farmers in these marginal environments of the country.
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