Intensification of dryland farming in Mali through mechanisation of sowing, fertiliser application and weeding.
This study focuses on the role of mechanised sowing and weeding in combination with seed priming and fertiliser microdosing in Mali. Mechanised sowing and weeding were based on using a combined donkey-drawn planter/weeder and a motorised planter/weeder. The research methods included studies of seed delivery in manual and mechanised sowing, field experiments on different levels of mechanization/intensification, labour studies on mechanisation and an economic assessment of the different levels of intensification.
The average sorghum grain yield across three years increased by 352 kg ha−1 (43.7% increase) by combining mechanisation with seed priming and microdosing of 0.2 g NPK 15-15-15 fertiliser per pocket compared to a control with manual sowing but without seed priming and microdosing. The labour demand (sowing and weeding) for manual, donkey-drawn and motorised operations was 184, 67 and 47 hours ha−1, respectively.
An economic analysis showed that the donkey-drawn planter/weeder is the appropriate mechanisation below six ha while above this land size it becomes increasingly interesting for the farmers to invest in a motorised planter. The use of mechanisation will result in earlier and uniform crop establishment, facilitate microdosing application, timelier weeding, higher yields, better economic return and reduced labour demand.
The main objective of this study was to evaluate intensification pathways for groundnut production in the marginal rain-fed environment of North Kordofan State, Sudan. The effect of intensification on yields was assessed in three different experiments. In the first experiment, the treatments were organised according to increasing level of intensification from the traditional production package to the improved production package (the ladder experiment). The complete improved package in the ladder approach consisted of increased density, new variety, seed priming, microdosing (0.6 g NPK per pocket) and mulching. Three levels of mulching and two levels of intensification constituted the second experiment (mulching experiment), while the third was an on-farm experiment involving 20 farmers testing two levels of intensification (on-farm experiment). The average yield increases were 75, 61, and 32 %, from the ladder, mulch and on-farm experiments, respectively. Results from the ladder experiment showed that farmers’ gross margin increased by 83% compared to traditional practices. Resource limited farmers can increase yield by 18% and gain 25% additional cash incomes by only adopting increased plant density. As farmers differ in their wealth status, they can choose low-cost, low-risk components of the technological package whereas farmers with more access to resources can achieve high cash incomes by adopting the complete improved production package. There was no clear effect of mulching on yields in these experiments.
Keywords: plant density, variety, seed priming, micro-dosing, mulching, profitability