Soil fertility management practices by smallholder farmers in Vhembe District, Limpopo Province

  • JJ Odhiambo
  • LE Nemadodzi
Keywords: Soil fertility, food production, management practices, smallholder farmers


Inadequate soil fertility is one of the most important constraints limiting food production in Vhembe district, Limpopo province. A survey of 85 randomly sampled farmers was conducted using a standard questionnaire to identify (i) the practices that smallholder farmers use to maintain or improve soil fertility and (ii) the constraints associated with soil fertility management practices used by the farmers. An interview schedule was the main tool of data collection while descriptive statistics were the main analytical technique. Findings indicated that 46% of the farmers allowed for fallow periods, with the majority (97%) allowing for fallow period between 3 months to one year. Up to 79% of the farmers\' practised crop rotation and those who don\'t practise rotation gave reasons which included inadequate knowledge regarding the practice and shortage of land. Only 28% of the farmers practised intercropping, indicating inadequate knowledge about the practice. 76% of the farmers incorporated crop residues back into the soil. Erosion was identified by 57% of the farmers as a problem. Among the measures used to control soil erosion are ploughing along contours (43%), maintaining vegetative cover on soil surface (19%), using stone bunds (19%), planting trees in eroded areas (9.5%) and using cover crops (9.5%).

Keywords: Soil fertility, food production, management practices, smallholder farmers.

South African Journal of Agricultural Extension Vol. 36 (1) 2007: pp. 53-61

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2413-3221
print ISSN: 0301-603X