1.1 Background of the Study
Agriculture remains an important sector of the Nigerian economy because of its relevance to national development especially in the area of food sufficiency, generation of foreign exchange earnings and its ever increasing role in providing employment opportunities for the unemployed persons in the country. It was in the realization of this that the Nigerian government through its National Policy on Education (NPE) have encouraged the teaching and learning of agriculture (agricultural education) at various school levels; primary, secondary and tertiary institutions (FGN, 2013). Agricultural education is an occupational education design to develop a particular knowledge and skills associated with various farming designs (Akpomedaye, 2011). In the submission of Ukonze and Olaitan (2010), agricultural education is described as a programme for preparing or equipping learners with knowledge, skills and attitude in teaching the technical areas of agriculture to enable them impart same to students. The content of agricultural education covers not areas such crop and animal production but areas such as machinery operations, processing and marketing of agricultural products, natural resource management as well as soil conservation among others (Agbulu and Wever, 2011).
Soil is the upper layer of the earth on which plants and animals grow and develop. Emone (2003) viewed soil as an outer weathered layer of earth’s crust which has the potential to support plant and animal life. With reference to this study, soil is the loosed, weathered - unconsolidated material which contains organic matter capable of supporting plant growth and yield. Olaitan and Omomia (2009) explained that soil is a medium for plant growth and serves several functions such as nutrient source, anchorage to plants and a medium for biological activity. The authors further stated that out of the 16 nutrient elements needed by most plants; they obtain 13 from the soil. The submissions of the authors cited above suggests that soil is of great importance to farmers as it supports growth of the crops and yield and hence is the most important of all factors to be considered before embarking on crop production .
A farmer in the opinion of Olaitan, Ifeanyieze and Eze (2012), is a person who grows plants or rears animals for the benefit of mankind. It is an individual who owns or manages a crop or an animal farm. In this study, a crop farmer is an individual who owns or grows food crops Such as vegetables, cereals, roots and tubers, spices among others for the sustenance of their livelihood and for economic benefits to man. These farmers make use of different approaches towards enhancing soil fertility to increase crop yield sufficiently for sustainable crop production in the area.
Soil fertility, in the submission of Havlin, Beaton, Tisdale and Nelson (2005), is the richness of a soil with reference to nutrient contents for the support, growth and yield of crops. It refers to the extent to which a soil contains and supplies nutrients needed to sustain the growth, development and yield of healthy plants. The fertility of a soil is usually measured by observing the growth, yield and health of crops growing on it. When the fertility of the soil is discovered to be low, farmers utilize organic manure to enrich and rehabilitate the soil to ensure sufficient food supply for sustainable crop production.
Organic manure according to Lazarus and Koehler (2002), are decayed plants and animal products which have been carefully prepared to supply nutrients to plants. Bear in Wakili (2015), views organic manure as materials of plants, animals or human origin which can decompose to add nutrients to the soil. Dilip (2012) explains that organic manure have the following characteristics: organic manures supply primary, secondary and micro-nutrients to plants which are liberated in an available form during the process of mineralization carried out by different micro-organisms, organic manures also supply organic matter to the soil and hence improve the physical condition of the soil like soil structure, aeration and water holding capacity; organic manures stimulates the activities of different soil micro-organisms through the supply of energy; organic manures improve the buffering and exchange capacities of soil and also improves the solubility of soil minerals as well a mineral nutrients in the soil; organic manures .forms chelates which also helps in the nutrition of plants, it also regulates the thermal regimes of soil among others. The author listed the examples of organic manure to include farmyard manure (FYM), green yard manure and compost manure.
The main constraints to fertilizer use can be grouped into those related to external factors and those related to household conditions and circumstances—internal factors (MSU 1998). External factors include those related to rainfall (e.g., greater than 700 mm per year); access to irrigation that would allow crop production; infrastructure that minimizes transfer costs; credit, because the costs associated with purchase, storage and transportation of (bulky) fertilizer are high; and a critical mass of commercial farming in the area, which increases economies of scale in the fertilizer trade. Internal factors include availability of cash and access to credit, access to input and output markets and to complementary inputs which have ‘‘thin’’ markets (such as manure), and the appropriate knowledge base. Pockets of high fertilizer use have been reported in areas with good market access such as Mutoko, Zimbabwe and central Kenya; moderate use in western Kenya and Shurugwi, Zimbabwe; and very low use in central and western Uganda.
Growth, yield, and quality of a plant species differ with soil types, soil nutrient status, and fertilizer management; and a plant species requires suitable soil for higher yield and better quality (Akamine et al., 2007; Chowdhury et al., 2008; Hossain & Ishimine, 2005; Hossain et al., 2011; Islam et al., 2011; Oya, 1972; Oya et al., 1977). Soil fertility and crop productivity differ significantly with the amount and combination of Na, K, Ca, Mg, S. P, Fe, Al, pH, and N in soil (Broadley et al., 2012a, 2012b; Hawkesford et al., 2012; Oya, 1972). Study on growth characteristics of a plant species in local soils is important to develop management practices for higher yield with good quality (Hossain & Ishimine, 2005).
Different plant species respond differently to fertilizer rates and combination and a plant species requires balanced fertilizers to maximize growth, yield, and quality (Akamine et al., 2007; Chowdhury et al., 2008; Hafsi et al., 2011; Hossain et al., 2004). The major nutrients (N, P, K) individually or in combination maintain growth, yield, and quality of plants (Hafsi et al., 2011; Ivonyi et al., 1997; Mazid, 1993; Nakano & Morita, 2009). Nitrogen influences chlorophyll formation, stomatal conductance, and photosynthetic efficiency, which is responsible for 26–41% of crop yield (Ivonyi et al., 1997; Maier et al., 1994). Potassium plays catalytic roles and regulates functions of various minerals in plants, and promotes N uptake efficiency of plants. Insufficient K causes shoot yellowing, poor growth, and low resistance to cold and drought of plant (Oya, 1972). Phosphorus promotes absorption of other nutrients and plant growth (Akamine et al., 2007).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
In Nigeria, it was observed that most crop farmers apply mainly inorganic fertilizer in the farm for improving soil fertility. Studies have shown that inorganic fertilizers, at short run, increases yield but at long run, have many adverse effects on agriculture and the ecosystem. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP, 2008) reported that organic farming could be more conducive for sustainable food crop production in Africa than most inorganic farming which uses synthetic chemicals in production. The report expressed that even though inorganic farming seems to be more time and energy saving, yield and income generating; it has heavy adverse effects on human beings, natural environment and the ecosystem. It is not self-sustaining because most of inorganic materials are imported into developing countries like Nigeria. The report also indicated that organic farming is sustainable and environmental friendly. Mowo, Janssen, Laura, Mrema, and Shemdoe, (2010) stated that currently, inorganic fertilizer prices doubled their levels in 2006, and Africa account for less than 1% of global fertilizer consumption. Lal (2009) emphasized that the use of inorganic fertilizers by smallholders to replenish their soils is often not economically feasible, due to high prices and the risk of drought stress. This suggests that the utilization of inorganic fertilizer in Nigeria does not ensure sustainable crop production.
In a study conducted by the researchers with at least 50 crop farmers in some different state in Nigeria it was found out that most of the farmers have very little knowledge and skills in formulating organic manure; some of them have doubts on the efficacy of organic manure in enhancing soil fertility and do not cultivate plants whose parts can be used in formulating organic manure with the intention of using any of them to enhance fertility of the soil. Besides, there is dearth of literature indicating the skills in organic manure formulation for increasing soil fertility for sustainable crop production in Nigeria. Therefore, the findings of the pilot study and the gap in literature vindicated the need for this study which the major purpose was to determine skills improvement needs of crop farmers in formulating organic manure for enhancing soil fertility for sustainable crop production in Nigeria.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The study sought to know the multivariate analysis on the response of crops to fertilizer and soil types. Specifically, the study sought to;
i. determine the relationship between response of crops to fertilizer and soil types.
ii. examine the impact of fertilizer to crops and soil types.
iii. determine the challenges faced by farmers in application and utilization of fertilizers.
1.4 Research Questions
i. What is the relationship between response of crops to fertilizer and soil types?
ii. What is the impact of fertilizer to crops and soil types?
iii. What are the challenges faced by farmers in application and utilization of fertilizers?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
Ho1: There is no relationship between response of crops to fertilizer and soil types.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study will be of immense benefit to other researchers who intend to know more on this study and can also be used by non-researchers to build more on their research work. This study contributes to knowledge and could serve as a guide for other study.
1.7 Scope/Limitations of the Study
This study is on multivariate analysis on the response of crops to fertilizer and soil types.
Limitations of Study
Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 Definition of Terms
Multivariate analysis: Multivariate analysis is based on the statistical principle of multivariate statistics, which involves observation and analysis of more than one statistical outcome variable at a time.
Response: a reaction to something.
Crop: A crop is a plant or animal product that can be grown and harvested extensively for profit or subsistence.
Fertilizer: A fertilizer is any material of natural or synthetic origin that is applied to soils or to plant tissues to supply one or more plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants.
Soil Types: A soil type is a taxonomic unit in soil science. All soils that share a certain set of well-defined properties form a distinctive soil type.
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