Ghana Journal of Agricultural Science

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Evaluation of soil properties of the Sudan Savannah ecological zone of Ghana for crop production

D. S. MacCarthy, W. A Agyare, P. L. G. Vlek


Low soil fertility and limited ability of farmers to purchase fertilizers in the Sudan savannah zone of Ghana has resulted in the decline in the yield of cereals over the years. There is, therefore, the need to identify soil parameters that are critical to crop production, to manage them effectively and improve fertilizer use efficiency to increase crop yield. To achieve this, an area of about 1.5 km2 was divided into grid cells (100m2) and characterised for their soil properties (organic carbon, pH, and soil texture). Data collected was used in a pedo-transfer function to estimate additional soil parameters that were not measured (i.e. wilting point, field capacity, available water and saturation). These were used as input to the crop simulation model (APSIM- Agriculture Productions Systems sIMulator) to simulate sorghum grain yield for each grid cell. Linear regression and factor analysis were also employed in explaining the data. Grain yield ranged from 402 to 1092 kg ha-1 with a mean of 673 kg ha-1 using 2005 weather data and 228 to 907 kg ha-1 with a mean of 427 kg ha-1 using 2000 weather data without fertilizer application. The model was sensitive to all input parameters. Soil texture and organic carbon were identified to have significant effect on crop yield. Soil organic carbon is, therefore, to be managed for the development of a good tilth and hence sustainable yields of sorghum at the study site.

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