Assessment of Agronomic and Economic Benefits of Fertilizer Use in Maize Production Systems under Variable Farm Size, Climate and Soil Fertility Conditions in Eastern India

Farming in Eastern India is characterized by small landholders. Typically low resource availability to the farmers and low profitability from cereal farming necessitates that inputs, including fertilizer, is used in the most efficient manner to maintain farm profitability in the region. IPNI and it’s partners have recently collected agronomic data from on‐farm nutrient response studies that showed high variability in maize yield response to fertilizer N, P and K across the study region. These data were used to develop the Nutrient Expert (NE) for Maize for South Asia, a decision support tool to implement site specific nutrient management in farmers’ fields. The tool also enables researchers to conduct ex‐ante analysis of nutrient management options, evaluating the economic responses across a range of yield increases based on the resource of the farmer. This project will use NE to conduct ex ante analysis across farm typologies to improve return on investment for maize farmers in Eastern India.


17 Mar 2013

2012 Annual Interpretive Summary

This project was initiated to synthesize information on farmer typologies (farmer groups classified by economic and social status), based on access and use of nutrient inputs, and apply the Nutrient Expert® (NE) decision support tool to conduct analysis on the agronomic and economic benefits of nutrient management for various categories of farmers in Eastern India.

Results from a recently completed farmers' survey revealed that farmers' risk perception plays an important role in nutrient management of maize. It was evident that higher quantities of fertilizers are used in Khagaria (Bihar), Sahebgunj (Jharkhand), and Nabarangpur (Odisha) districts, where a relatively risk-free winter maize crop is grown under irrigated conditions and farmers have good access to input and output markets. Farmers that grow irrigated winter maize in areas with good market access usually have access to better knowledge and inputs, such as hybrid seeds, fertilizers, plant protection chemicals etc., through both government and private industry extension services, which allows them to achieve relatively higher yields (8 to 10 t/ha). Such farmers often go beyond applying only macronutrients (N, P and K), and include the required secondary and micronutrients in their fertilization schedule. Ranchi farmers, on the other hand, grow maize under rainfed conditions in depleted red and lateritic Alfisols, where productivity is typically low. As a consequence, farmer investment on fertilizer input is also low here due to risk perception.

The frequency of use of farm yard manure (FYM) and other fertilizers by farmers was also assessed from the survey data. Farmers in most districts use some amount of organic manure (OM) and highest number of farmers using OM were found in Ranchi (Jharkhand) and Bankura (West Bengal) districts. Survey results revealed that farmers of these two districts are typically resource poor and have lesser access to inorganic fertilizer, both in terms of cost and distance to input market, which probably is the reason for their higher dependence on OM. As expected, urea is used by most farmers as they are aware of its necessity for crop growth as well as its relatively low cost. Farmer awareness about di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) is also quite high and more than 70% of the surveyed farmers use it. Muriate of Potash (MOP or KCl), on the other hand, is used by only about 50% percent of the surveyed farmers, which is probably associated with less awareness about the importance of K in maize production among the farmers. IPNI-50