Main Article Content
A 70-day laboratory incubation study was conducted to unravel the mechanism(s) underlying synergistic interactions between organic and inorganic nutrient inputs to the soil. Soil from a maize farmer's field at Kpongu in the Upper West Region of Ghana was amended with a factorial combination of 0, 50% and 100% levels of the recommended rates (RR) of inorganic fertilizer and cattle manure and incubated at room temperature in plastic cups. Deionized water was added to maintain soil moisture at 70% field capacity throughout the incubation period. Cups were covered with gas-permeable parafilm. Soil sampling was done at 7, 28, 42, 56 and 70 days after incubation. The soil was analyzed for available phosphorus, organic carbon, microbial biomass carbon, nitrates, ammonium, soil urease activity, iron, and copper at each sampling. The addition of 100% RR NPK + 50% RR manure often results in higher amounts of the measured parameters,synergistic interactions and supply of nutrients to the soil, with longer residual effects. While all the under-studied mechanisms (improved nutrient synchrony, priming effects, general fertility improvement fertility) contribute to synergistic interactions, the improved nutrient synchrony mechanism is the most prominent. Farmers can therefore manage the timing of the nutrient inputs well to capitalize on this mechanism for improved soil fertility.