PROTOCOLS FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF 4R LEARNING SITES IN GHANA
One of the major focus of the 4R Solution Project is to develop and disseminate nutrient management recommendations, based on principles of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship framework, to enable sustainable crop production within smallholder farming systems of northern Ghana. The 4R nutrient stewardship framework provides a basis for sustainable crop productivity intensification based on the principles the 4Rs namely; using the Right Source of nutrients, applied at the Right Rate, in the Right Place, and at the Right Time.
While increased fertilizer application has been identified as a key entry point for enhanced crop productivity in African smallholder farms such as those of northern Ghana, farmers frequently lack tools and guidelines that help them optimize benefits of increased fertilizer use. To address this, the 4R Solution Project seeks to provide a platform for the development and demonstration of locally adapted 4R practices that help smallholder farmers in select focal districts in northern Ghana to : (i) use the Right Source of nutrients for the various crops they grow; (ii) apply these nutrients at the right rate based on specific nutrient requirements for each crop; (iii) ensure that applied nutrients are supplied to the crop at the right place for enhanced uptake and minimal losses based on cropping systems requirements; and (iv) that nutrients are supplied at the right time in line with specific crop nutrient uptake demands.
A key component of the 4R platform will be the establishment of 4R learning sites. Established on centrally located farmer’s fields within each focal district, 4R learning sites will serve as learning centres that will continually evaluate and demonstrate to farmers best crop and fertilizer management practices based on principles of the 4Rs. Participatory evaluation of crop performance and 4R practices imposed in these 4R learning sites for the various key crops in the project area will allow for adaptation of 4R practices to suit specific local conditions, presenting an increased opportunity for enhanced adoption among farmers.
These protocols developed by implementing partner African Plant Nutrition Institute (APNI), provide a set of guidelines for the establishment and management of on-farm 4R learning sites for maize and groundnut which represent one of the most important cereal and legume crops in northern Ghana. Developed in consultation with researchers from the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), these protocols present standard methods that will guide key activities such as: site selection, site characterization, site preparation, planting and fertilizer application, crop management, and yield data collection in the 4R nutrient omission trials established.
You can read the full protocol here