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Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) in Sub-Saharan Africa

Bernard Vanlauwe International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Nairobi, Kenya b.vanlauwe@cgiar.org

Old and degraded soils

Poor infrastructure expensive inputs!

Poor infrastructure expensive inputs!

Small farms poor people!

Variability in soil fertility

Same farm Same variety Same inputs Same management
Good soil Poor soil

Many factors affect crop yield

No fertilizer, no intensification

IFA, 2001

Crops do respond to fertilizer in Africa!

Millet in Niger

Maize in Kenya

Universal principles of nutrient management

ha] [kg(kg/ha) yield maize yield grain Maize

Management intensity (planting date, crop density, time of P application); Tinfouga, Mali


control (no fertilizer applied) fertilizer applied




0 low medium manage me nt high

Bationo et al., 1997

But fertilizer is very often not enough

Manure +N

N+P Fertilizer

Variability in response to fertilizer

Non-responsive soils

We have tools for organic input production...

Legume green manures

Grain legumes

Legume forages

Legume tree fallows

Integrated Soil Fertility Management

N-deficient maize (farmer practice)

inoculated with Legumefix

control (non-inoculated)

Integrated Soil Fertility Management

The application of soil fertility management practices, and the knowledge to adapt these to local conditions, which maximize fertilizer and organic resource use efficiency and crop productivity. These practices necessarily include appropriate fertilizer and organic input management in combination with the utilization of improved germplasm

Integrated Soil Fertility Management

Agro-ecological intensification


Diagnosis of constraints
Laboratory Cost! Time! Test kits Accuracy? Cost? Local indicators Sensitivity? Extrapolation?

Infrared spectroscopy Quick! Cheap!

Optimal use dry of matter crop yield residues Total millet as affected by long-term
application of crop residues and fertilizer, Sadore, Niger
Control Fertilizer Crop residues + fertilizer

Total millet dry matter (kg ha )


8000 7000 6000 5000 4000 3000 2000 1000 0


Crop residues

Dry matter / N applied (kg kg )

120 100 80 60 40 20 0 without crop residues with crop residues

1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996



Site-specific formulation
3.5 3.0
SED (control)

Maize grain yield

2.5 2.0 1.5 1.0 0.5 0.0 Close Mid-distance Remote

Shinyalu, Western Kenya

Site-specific formulation
3.5 3.0
SED (control) SED (with PPK)

control with NPK

Maize grain yield

2.5 2.0 1.5 1.0 0.5 0.0 Close Mid-distance Remote

Shinyalu, Western Kenya


Site-specific formulation
Response ratio (Yield/YieldNPK)
Responsive soils that respond to 1. NPK and 2. application of lime, Mavuno, and FYM 1.2 1.0 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 0.0

Yield NPK




-K +Lime +Mav +FYM

Crop-specific formulation

Crop Maize Cassava Yam Plantain Soybean

N : P : K ratio 100 : 21 : 29 100 : 17 : 174 100 : 12 : 107 100 : 9 : 224 100 : 8 : 27


Farmer-specific formulation

Maximum agronomic yield

Grain yield (kg/ha)

Response 1 Response 2

Maximum economic yield

Max agronomic efficiency

Fertilizer N (kg N/ha)

Innovative distribution channels

Small packs

ICT applications

Empowering agro-dealers

Knowledge tansfer


Creating an enabling environment

Fertilizer Industry
Formulation Efficiency Policy Subsidy


Extension services

Research Community

Adaptive research

Development Community

The African Green Revolution is achievable!


Thank you! Merci beaucoup! Asante sana!