A MULTIVARIATE ANALYSIS ON THE RESPONSE OF CROPS TO FERTILIZER AND SOIL TYPES. (A CASE STUDY OF THE FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURE UMUDIKE, ABIA STATE)
Crop production is an integral part of agriculture, the other half is animal production or husbandry. Crop production can either be on a subsistence or commercial level. It is subsistence when the farmer produces for himself and family with a little for sale but it can be commercial when the farmer produces in a large scale for market consumption. Whichever type of production a farmer wants to embark upon, the knowledge of fertilizer and the nature of the soil is of utmost importance as this would go a long way in determining the farmers output. Since the 90’s agriculture in Nigeria that use to be at the front burner as the nation’s chief income earner as suddenly taken a back stage as a result of over dependency on crude. Agriculture overtime as been a major sustainer of Nigeria’s economy before the discovery of crude oil otherwise known as black gold (okoro 2005). Since its relegation to the background in Nigeria, it has been practiced at an alarming peasant level with most of the active stakeholder been largely subsistence agriculturists. Soil and fertilizer type are very significant factors in crop production. It is highly heterogeneous and this is the cause of differential rates of growth and yield on a parcel of land planted to the same crop at the same time and with the same management package (Olalokun, 1998). This is a source of frustration to crop farming as farmers cannot think of a particular management package suitable for their farmlands. Intensive cultivation and fertilizer application have become the cardinal aspect of soil management especially in the West African sub region. The Response to fertilizer application in some cases is nothing to write home about; hence many farmers have been forced to abandon their farmlands.
Types of fertilizers
Fertilizers can broadly be grouped into two parts namely:
- Organic fertilizers
As the name implies, these are fertilizers derived from human excreta, animal and plant matter such as compost and manure. Organic fertilizers generally have lower nutrient concentration than inorganic fertilizers.
Advantages of organic fertilizers
The following are the advantages of organic fertilizers
- They do not harm or burn plants when excessively applied on crops.
- They do not damage ground water.
- When applied on farmlands, they have long term positive effects on farmlands.
- Organic fertilizers are renewable, biodegradable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly.
- Although rather expensive in packages, you can make your own organic fertilizer by composting or find inexpensive sources—such as local dairy farms—that may sell composted manure.
Disadvantages of organic fertilizers
- Organic fertilizers break down according to nature’s rules, so they may not release nutrients as soon as you need them. You have to be patient – you won’t see improvement overnight. In fact, you may actually see a deficiency in your plants during the first couple of months until the first application breaks down. Hang in there! You’ll most definitely be rewarded.
- Nutrient ratios are often unknown, and the overall percentage is lower than chemical fertilizers. However, some organic products are actually higher in certain nutrients.
- Inorganic fertilizer
Inorganic fertilizers are synthetic fertilizers that are produced from chemical or synthetic materials with defined proportion of desired chemicals that are beneficial to crops.
Advantages of inorganic fertilizers
- Since nutrients are available to the plants immediately, improvement occurs in days.
- They are highly analyzed to produce the exact ratio of nutrients desired.
- Standardized labeling makes ratios and chemical sources easy to understand.
- They’re inexpensive.
Disadvantages of inorganic fertilizers
- If excessively applied, they can burn or harm plants.
- When applied, it can cause water or air pollution.
- Chemical fertilizers tend to leach, or filter away from the plants, requiring additional applications.
- Long-term use of chemical fertilizer can change the soil pH, upset beneficial microbial ecosystems, increase pests, and even contribute to the release of greenhouse gases.