In the middle a tilted structural ridge with on the left a red soil with modest levels of organic matter (Ferric Luvisol) and on the right a brown soil very high in organic matter (Luvic Phaeozem)
Photo: R. Voortman


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Crop yield improvement is dearly needed in sub-Saharan Africa, but remarkably, African farmers do not adopt the available ‘Green Revolution’ fertiliser technologies. This has many reasons, a crucial one being soil properties.

The problems of poverty and malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are well-known. Over the last five decennia, per capita food production has even decreased. The SSA food system is further threatened by rapid population growth, wide-spread soil erosion and agricultural practices of ‘nutrient mining’, leading to increasingly impoverished soils. It is further reasonable to assume that area expansion will take place on increasingly marginal soils. The single quick-fix solution to all these problems and threats, so it would seem, is the application of ‘Green Revolution’ technologies that are based on improved crop varieties in combination with ample supplies of irrigation water, inorganic fertilisers and pesticides. Since the 1960’s, these have dramatically increased crop yields in South and East Asia.

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