See more from this Session: General Global Agronomy: III
Wednesday, October 19, 2011: 2:20 PM
Henry Gonzalez Convention Center, Room 210A, Concourse Level
Soil fertility degradation and limited access to fertilizer are key constraints to smallholder agriculture, especially in Africa where fertilizer use rates are the lowest in the world and access to high-quality food is least secure. Most agricultural soils in Ethiopia are deficient in N, and Ethiopia is among those African countries with the highest rates (≥ 40 kg N/ha/yr) of nutrient depletion. The goal of this project is to develop a system that smallholder farmers can use to make their own N fertilizer, thus providing access to a key agricultural input without dependence on expensive fertilizer imports or costly transportation over poor roads. To achieve this goal, we are evaluating the potential for cultivation of N-fixing cyanobacteria in shallow ponds for application to crops as a N fertilizer. Evaluation of locally appropriate and affordable means to build and aerate ponds and supply nutrients is a critical step towards feasibility of such a system. In addition, optimizing cyanobacterial growth and N fixation is essential to assure affordability of this system by smallholder farmers. This presentation will describe prototype development for on-farm cyanobacterial N fertilizer production. Increasing fertilizer use has the potential to increase yields and protein contents and ultimately to enhance incomes, dietary quality, and food security.