Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Xanthomonas Wilt of Banana (BXW) in Central Africa : Opportunities, challenges, and pathways for citizen science and ICT-based control and prevention strategies
McCampbell, Mariette ; Schut, Marc ; Bergh, Inge Van den; Schagen, Boudy van; Vanlauwe, Bernard ; Blomme, Guy ; Gaidashova, Svetlana ; Njukwe, Emmanuel ; Leeuwis, Cees - \ 2018
NJAS Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences (2018). - ISSN 1573-5214
Agricultural transformation - Banana wilt disease - Digital innovation - Environmental monitoring - ICT4Ag - Systems analysis
Xanthomonas Wilt of Banana (BXW) is a complex problem in the African Great Lakes Region that is affecting the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers. Since the first disease reports from Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2001, BXW has been studied widely. The majority of these studies focus on the technological or biophysical dimensions, while aspects and influence of socio-cultural, economic and institutional dimensions only recently started to gain attention. This paper provides an in-depth analysis of the broader BXW problem using a systems perspective, with the aim to add to the understanding about reasons for poor uptake of appropriate disease management practices, and limited ability to prevent rather than control BXW in the region. We comprehensively describe and analyse the various problem dimensions, and determine relations with data, information, knowledge, and connectivity. Building on this, the paper explores and discusses entry-points for the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and citizen science tools to better address BXW in banana production systems.
Soyabean response to rhizobium inoculation across sub-Saharan Africa : Patterns of variation and the role of promiscuity
Heerwaarden, Joost van; Baijukya, Frederick ; Kyei-Boahen, Stephen ; Adjei-nsiah, Samuel ; Ebanyat, Peter ; Kamai, Nkeki ; Wolde-Meskel, Endalkachew ; Kanampiu, Fred ; Vanlauwe, Bernard ; Giller, Ken - \ 2018
Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 261 (2018). - ISSN 0167-8809 - p. 211 - 218.
Bradyrhizobium - Promiscuous varieties - Response variability - Smallholder farmers - Soyabean - Sub saharan Africa - Sustainable intensification
Improving bacterial nitrogen fixation in grain legumes is central to sustainable intensification of agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. In the case of soyabean, two main approaches have been pursued: first, promiscuous varieties were developed to form effective symbiosis with locally abundant nitrogen fixing bacteria. Second, inoculation with elite bacterial strains is being promoted. Analyses of the success of these approaches in tropical smallholder systems are scarce. It is unclear how current promiscuous and non-promiscuous soyabean varieties perform in inoculated and uninoculated fields, and the extent of variation in inoculation response across regions and environmental conditions remains to be determined.We present an analysis of on-farm yields and inoculation responses across ten countries in Sub Saharan Africa, including both promiscuous and non-promiscuous varieties. By combining data from a core set of replicated on-farm trials with that from a large number of farmer-managed try-outs, we study the potential for inoculation to increase yields in both variety types and evaluate the magnitude and variability of response.Average yields were estimated to be 1343 and 1227. kg/ha with and without inoculation respectively. Inoculation response varied widely between trials and locations, with no clear spatial patterns at larger scales and without evidence that this variation could be explained by yield constraints or environmental conditions. On average, specific varieties had similar uninoculated yields, while responding more strongly to inoculation. Side-by side comparisons revealed that stronger responses were observed at sites where promiscuous varieties had superior uninoculated yields, suggesting the availability of compatible, effective bacteria as a yield limiting factor and as a determinant of the magnitude of inoculation response.
Sustainable intensification through rotations with grain legumes in Sub-Saharan Africa : A review
Franke, A.C. ; Brand, G.J. van den; Vanlauwe, B. ; Giller, K.E. - \ 2018
Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 261 (2018). - ISSN 0167-8809 - p. 172 - 185.
Biotic factors - Cereals - Nitrogen fixation - Phosphorus - Residual benefits - Smallholder farmers

We conducted a systematic review of literature on the residual effects of grain legumes in cereal-based systems of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) to quantify the magnitude and variability of rotational effects, to explore the importance of environmental and management factors in determining variability and to evaluate the evidence of the different mechanisms that explain rotational effects. We retrieved 44 unique publications providing 199 observations comparing continuous cereal performance with that of a grain legume-cereal rotation. The overall mean yield increase of 0.49t grainha-1, equal to an increase of 41% of the continuous cereal yield, is highly significant, but the variability in residual effects is large. Effects were more pronounced in southern Africa, the highlands of East Africa and the Guinea savannah, and less in the humid forest/derived savannah of West Africa and the Sudano-Sahelian zone. Maize showed stronger yield responses after a legume than millet and sorghum. Agro-ecological zone and cereal type were however confounded. All grain legume types significantly improved cereal yields, with stronger residual effects observed after soybean and groundnut than after cowpea. Fertiliser N application to cereals reduces the residual effects of legumes, but the response at 60-120kgNha-1 still equalled 0.32tha-1 or 59% of the response when no N is applied. The sustained benefits with large N applications indicate the importance of non-N effects. While mechanisms for improved soil P availability after grain legumes have been studied in some detail, it remains uncertain how important these are in farmers' fields. Grain legumes are unlikely to have a major influence on the availability of nutrients other than N and P, or on soil pH. Beneficial impacts of grain legumes on soil organic matter content can occur if legumes contribute to a greater overall cropping productivity, but studies generally report no such impacts. Evidence of impacts of grain legumes on weeds is limited to striga. Studies on the impacts on nematode pressure in cereals are inconclusive, probably because legumes act as a host for some of the key nematode genera that harm maize. The impact on the pressure of other pests and diseases in cereals is probably important, but evidence on this from SSA is lacking. Future research on N2-fixation by grain legumes and residual N benefits should focus on explaining the wide variability observed among sites. There is a clear need for more detailed mechanistic studies to assess the occurrence and relevance of non-N effects of grain legumes, particularly in relation to common pests and diseases in cereals.

Benefits of inoculation, P fertilizer and manure on yields of common bean and soybean also increase yield of subsequent maize
Rurangwa, Edouard ; Vanlauwe, Bernard ; Giller, Ken E. - \ 2018
Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 261 (2018). - ISSN 0167-8809 - p. 219 - 229.
Agro-ecological zone - Inoculation - Manure - P fertilizer - Yield
Common bean and soybean yield poorly on smallholder farms in Rwanda. We evaluated the benefits of inoculation combined with P fertilizer and manure on yields of common bean and soybean in three agro-ecological zones (AEZs), and their residual effects on a subsequent maize crop. In the first season, the treatments included inoculum, three rates of manure, and two rates of P fertilizer, with nine replications (three per AEZ). Both legumes responded well to inoculation if applied together with manure and P fertilizer. Grain yields varied from 1.0tha-1 to 1.7tha-1 in unamended control plots to 4.8tha-1 for common bean and 3.8tha-1 for soybean in inoculated plots with both P and manure addition. The response of common bean and soybean to inputs varied greatly between AEZs. In the AEZ with low and erratic rainfall (Bugesera), yields of both legumes and maize were low and maize after soybean failed to yield any grain due to drought. In this regard, early maturing legume varieties are advised in regions of low rainfall. Responses of maize to an input applied to the legumes strongly increased when other inputs were applied together to the legume. This allowed greater maize yields which ranged from 0.8tha-1 in control plots to 6.5tha-1 in treatments previously inoculated with P and manure added for maize grown after common bean and from 1.9tha-1 in control plots to 5.3tha-1 for maize grown after soybean. The amount of N2-fixed measured using the 15N-natural abundance method differed between the two legumes and varied between 15 and 198kgN2 ha-1 for common bean and between 15 and 186kgN2 ha-1 for soybean and differed enormously among treatments and AEZs. Application of inputs to the legumes also resulted in enhanced N and P uptake of the subsequent maize. The use of inoculum combined with manure and P fertilizer is a good option for smallholder farmers growing common bean and soybean in rotation with maize. We observed strong effects of environment and call for care when targeting crops and technologies for sustainable crop production.
Agricultural intensification scenarios, household food availability and greenhouse gas emissions in Rwanda : Ex-ante impacts and trade-offs
Paul, B.K. ; Frelat, R. ; Birnholz, C. ; Ebong, C. ; Gahigi, A. ; Groot, J.C.J. ; Herrero, M. ; Kagabo, D.M. ; Notenbaert, A. ; Vanlauwe, B. ; Wijk, M.T. van - \ 2018
Agricultural Systems 163 (2018). - ISSN 0308-521X - p. 16 - 26.
Climate smart agriculture - Ex-ante impact assessment - Household modeling - Low carbon development - Sub-Saharan Africa - Sustainable intensification
Rwanda's agricultural sector is facing severe challenges of increasing environmental degradation, resulting in declining productivity. The problem is likely to be further aggravated by the growing population pressure. A viable pathway is climate smart agriculture, aiming at the triple win of improving food security and climate change adaptation, while contributing to mitigation if possible. The Government of Rwanda has initiated ambitious policies and programs aiming at low emission agricultural development. Crop focused policies include the Crop Intensification Program (CIP) which facilitates access to inorganic fertilizer and improved seeds. In the livestock subsector, zero-grazing and improved livestock feeding are encouraged, and the Girinka program provides poor farm households with a crossbred dairy cow. In this study, we aimed at assessing the potential impact of these policy programs on food availability and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of 884 households across different agro-ecologies and farming systems in Rwanda. Household level calculations were used to assess the contribution of current crops, livestock and off-farm activities to food availability and GHG emissions. Across all sites, 46% of households were below the 2500kcalMAE-1 yr-1 line, with lower food availability in the Southern and Eastern Rwanda. Consumed and sold food crops were the mainstay of food availability, contributing between 81.2% (low FA class) to 53.1% (high FA class). Livestock and off-farm income were the most important pathways to higher FA. Baseline GHG emissions were low, ranging between 395 and 1506kg CO2e hh-1 yr-1 per site, and livestock related emissions from enteric fermentation (47.6-48.9%) and manure (26.7-31.8%) were the largest contributors to total GHG emissions across sites and FA classes. GHG emissions increased with FA, with 50% of the total GHG being emitted by 22% of the households with the highest FA scores. Scenario assessment of the three policy options showed strong differences in potential impacts: Girinka only reached one third of the household population, but acted highly pro-poor by decreasing the households below the 2500kcalMAE-1 yr-1 line from 46% to 35%. However, Girinka also increased GHG by 1174kg CO2e hh-1 yr-1, and can therefore not be considered climate-smart. Improved livestock feeding was the least equitable strategy, decreasing food insufficient households by only 3%. However, it increased median FA by 755kcalMAE-1 yr-1 at a small GHG increase (50kg CO2e hh-1 yr-1). Therefore, it is a promising option to reach the CSA triple win. Crop and soil improvement resulted in the smallest increase in median FA (FA by 755kcalMAE-1 yr-1), and decreasing the proportion of households below 2500kcalMAE-1 yr-1 by 6%. This came only at minimal increase in GHG emissions (23kg CO2e hh-1 yr-1). All policy programs had different potential impacts and trade-offs on different sections of the farm household population. Quick calculations like the ones presented in this study can assist in policy dialogue and stakeholder engagement to better select and prioritize policies and development programs, despite the complexity of its impacts and trade-offs.
Overview of Nutrition-Sensitive Landscapes : Approach and methods to assess food availability and diversification of diets
Kennedy, Gina ; Raneri, Jessica ; Termote, Celine ; Nowak, V. ; Remans, Roseline ; Groot, J.C.J. ; Haraksingh Thilsted, S. - \ 2017
In: Sustainable Intensification in Smallholder Agriculture - An integrated systems research approach / Oborn, I., Vanlauwe, B., Philips, M., Thomas, R., Brooijmans, W., Atta-Krah, K., Earthscan - ISBN 9781138668089 - p. 247 - 258.
Exploring options for Sustainable Intensification in different farming system types in Eastern Zambia
Timler, C.J. ; Michalscheck, M. ; Alvarez, S. ; Descheemaeker, K.K.E. ; Groot, J.C.J. - \ 2017
In: Sustainable Intensification in Smallholder Agriculture / Oborn, Ingrid, Vanlauwe, Bernard, Philips, Michael, Thomas, Richard, Brooijmans, Willemien, Atta-Krah, Kwesi, Earthscan (Earthscan Food and Agriculture ) - ISBN 9781138668089 - p. 196 - 209.
In Zambia maize is the main staple food crop and, with a share of 52% in the daily calorie intake of the local population, it is critical for ensuring the national food security (FAOSTAT, 2013). Of the total maize consumed in Zambia, smallholder farmers produce 80% in rain-fed systems under low soil fertility, frequent drought and with a limited use of high yielding varieties or inorganic fertiliser (Sitko et al., 2011). In eastern Zambia, the livelihoods of small-scale farmers depend largely on maize-legume mixed systems characterised by low productivity, extreme poverty and environmental degradation (Sitko et al., 2011). Thus, there seems to be a great need for sustainable intensification of these farming systems, for instance through promoting best practices in maize–legume integration. Maize–legume cropping provides protein-rich food for humans, residues for animal feed, composting and soil amendments and nitrogen inputs through symbiotic fixation by the legume. Sustainable intensification of farming systems can take place through changes in resource use and allocation that increase farm productivity while reducing pressure on local ecosystems and safeguarding social relations. According to Pretty et al. (2011), this entails the efficient use of all inputs to produce more outputs while reducing damage to the environment and building a resilient natural capital from which environmental services can be obtained. Sustainable intensification results from the application of technological and socio-economic approaches that may be categorised into genetic, ecological and socio-economic intensification (The Montpellier Panel, 2013).
Integrated systems research in nutrition-sensitive landscapes : A theoretical methodological framework
Groot, Jeroen C.J. ; Kennedy, Gina ; Remans, Roseline ; Estrada-Carmona, Natalia ; Raneri, Jessica ; DeClerck, Fabrice ; Alvarez, Stéphanie ; Mashingaidze, Nester ; Timler, Carl ; Stadler, Minke ; Río Mena, Trinidad del; Horlings, Lummina ; Brouwer, Inge ; Cole, Steven M. ; Descheemaeker, Katrien - \ 2017
In: Sustainable Intensification in Smallholder Agriculture / Oborn, Ingrid, Vanlauwe, Bernard, Phillips, Michael, Thomas, Richard, Atta-Krah, Kwesi, Brooijmans, Willemien, New York : Routledge / Earthscan - ISBN 9781138668089 - p. 259 - 274.
South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are two regions of the world with the highest concentration of nutritionally vulnerable populations that depend to a large extent on agriculture as an important source of livelihood (Gillespie et al., 2015). The vast majority of farmers in these regions have small landholdings due to land fragmentation (Jayne et al., 2014; Valbuena et al., 2015) and are often constrained in their access to resources and agricultural inputs (Herrero et al., 2010), especially women (e.g., Cole et al., 2015). As a consequence, productivity levels are low, and because income sources are also limited, dependence on surrounding landscapes and ecosystem services is high in terms of safeguarding supplies of clean water, human and animal foods, construction materials and fuel wood. People shape their physical landscapes (Ellis, 2015), influenced by cultures, values and livelihood opportunities (Horlings, 2015). People’s utilization of their physical landscapes is shaped by various conditions such as soil properties, topography, climate and flooding patterns. People’s dependence on their physical landscapes is strong and expected to increase due to climate change, resulting in gradual but persistent changes including adjustments in frequency, timing and severity of anomalies such as droughts and floods (Naylor et al., 2007; Gornall et al., 2010).
What kinds of 'system' are we dealing with? : Implications for systems research and scaling
Leeuwis, Cees ; Wigboldus, Seerp - \ 2017
In: Sustainable Intensification in Smallholder Agriculture: An Integrated Systems Research Approach / Oborn, Ingrid, Vanlauwe, Bernard, Philips, Michael, Thomas, Richard, AttaKrah, Kwesi, Brooijmans, Willemien, Taylor and Francis Inc. - ISBN 9781138668089 - p. 319 - 333.
Exploring options for sustainable intensification through legume integration in different farm types in eastern Zambia
Timler, Carl ; Michalscheck, Mirja ; Alvarez, Stéphanie ; Descheemaeker, Katrien ; Groot, Jeroen C.J. - \ 2017
In: Sustainable Intensification in Smallholder Agriculture: An Integrated Systems Research Approach / Oborn, Ingrid, Vanlauwe, Bernard, Phillips, Michael, Thomas, Richard, AttaKrah, Kwesi, Brooijmans, Willemien, Taylor and Francis Inc. - ISBN 9781138668089 - p. 196 - 209.
Learning system for agricultural research for development (LESARD) : Documenting, reporting, and analysis of performance factors in multi-stakeholder processes
Sartas, Murat ; Schut, Marc ; Leeuwis, Cees - \ 2017
In: Sustainable Intensification in Smallholder Agriculture: An Integrated Systems Research Approach / Oborn, Ingrid, Vanlauwe, Bernard, Phillips, Michael, Thomas, Richard, AttaKrah, Kwesi, Brooijmans, Wilemien, Taylor and Francis Inc. - ISBN 9781138668089 - p. 367 - 380.
Nutrition-sensitive landscapes : Approach and methods to assess food availability and diversification of diets
Kennedy, Gina ; Raneri, Jessica ; Termote, Celine ; Nowak, Verena ; Remans, Roseline ; Groot, Jeroen C.J. ; Thilsted, Shakuntala H. - \ 2017
In: Sustainable Intensification in Smallholder Agriculture: An Integrated Systems Research Approach / Oborn, Ingrid, Vanlauwe, Bernard, Phillips, Michael, Thomas, Richard, AttaKrah, Kwesi, Brooijmans, Willemien, Taylor and Francis Inc. - ISBN 9781138668089 - p. 247 - 258.
Sustainable intensification has recently been developed and adopted as a key concept and driver for research and policy in sustainable agriculture. It includes ecological, economic and social dimensions, where food and nutrition security, gender and equity are crucial components. This book describes different aspects of systems research in agriculture in its broadest sense, where the focus is moved from farming systems to livelihoods systems.
How can external interventions build on local innovations? : Lessons from an assessment of innovation experiences in African smallholder agriculture
Triomphe, Bernard ; Floquet, Anne ; Letty, Brigid ; Kamau, Geoffrey ; Almekinders, Conny ; Waters-Bayer, Ann - \ 2017
In: Sustainable Intensification in Smallholder Agriculture: An Integrated Systems Research Approach / Oborn, Ingrid, Vanlauwe, Bernard, Phillips, Michael, Thomas, Richard, AttaKrah, Kwesi, Brooijmans, Willemien, Taylor and Francis Inc. - ISBN 9781138668089 - p. 334 - 366.
Integrated systems research for sustainable intensification of smallholder agriculture
Öborn, Ingrid ; Vanlauwe, Bernard ; Atta-Krah, Kwesi ; Thomas, Richard J. ; Phillips, Michael ; Schut, Marc - \ 2017
In: Sustainable Intensification in Smallholder Agriculture: An Integrated Systems Research Approach / Oborn, Ingrid, Vanlauwe, Bernard, Phillips, Michael, Thomas, Richard, Atta-Krah, Kwesi, Brooijmans, Willemien, Taylor and Francis Inc. - ISBN 9781138668089 - p. 1 - 15.
Co-learning using FARMSIM in western Kenya : A collaboration between Humidtropics and MAIZE CRPs
Roobroeck, Dries ; Taulya, G. ; Vanlauwe, B. ; Rusinamhodzi, L. ; Marinus, Wytze ; Descheemaeker, K.K.E. ; Ven, G.W.J. van de; Giller, K.E. - \ 2016
From best fit technologies to best fit scaling: incorporating and evaluating factors affecting the adoption of grain legumes in Sub-Saharan Africa
Farrow, Andrew ; Ronner, Esther ; Brand, Greta J. Van Den; Boahen, Stephen K. ; Leonardo, Wilson ; Wolde-Meskel, Endalkachew ; Adjei-Nsiah, Samuel ; Chikowo, Regis ; Baijukya, Fredrick ; Ebanyat, Peter ; Sangodele, Emmanuel A. ; Sanginga, Jean-Marie ; Kantengwa, Speciose ; Phiphira, Lloyd ; Woomer, Paul ; Ampadu-Boakye, Theresa ; Baars, Edward ; Kanampiu, Fred ; Vanlauwe, Bernard ; Giller, Kenneth E. - \ 2016
Experimental Agriculture (2016). - ISSN 0014-4797 - p. 1 - 26.
The success of scaling out depends on a clear understanding of the factors that affect adoption of grain legumes and account for the dynamism of those factors across heterogeneous contexts of sub-Saharan Africa. We reviewed literature on adoption of grain legumes and other technologies in sub-Saharan Africa and other developing countries. Our review enabled us to define broad factors affecting different components of the scaling out programme of N2Africa and the scales at which those factors were important. We identified three strategies for managing those factors in the N2Africa scaling out programme: (i) testing different technologies and practices; (ii) evaluating the performance of different technologies in different contexts; and (iii) monitoring factors that are difficult to predict. We incorporated the review lessons in a design to appropriately target and evaluate technologies in multiple contexts across scales from that of the farm to whole countries. Our implementation of this design has only been partially successful because of competing reasons for selecting activity sites. Nevertheless, we observe that grain legume species have been successfully targeted for multiple biophysical environments across sub-Saharan Africa, and to social and economic contexts within countries. Rhizobium inoculant and legume specific fertiliser blends have also been targeted to specific contexts, although not in all countries. Relatively fewer input and output marketing models have been tested due to public–private partnerships, which are a key mechanism for dissemination in the N2Africa project.
Benefits of Inoculation, P Fertilizer and Manure on Yields of Bean and Soybean Are Also Seen in Increased Yield of Subsequent Maize
Rurangwa, E. ; Franke, A.C. ; Vanlauwe, B. ; Giller, K.E. - \ 2016
- 1 p.
Poor farmers - poor yields : Socio-economic soil fertility and crop management indicators affecting climbing bean productivity in Northern Rwanda
Franke, A.C. ; Baijukya, F. ; Kantengwa, S. ; Reckling, M. ; Vanlauwe, B. ; Giller, K.E. - \ 2016
Experimental Agriculture (2016). - ISSN 0014-4797 - p. 1 - 21.
Climbing bean is the key staple legume crop in the highlands of East and Central Africa. We assessed the impact of interactions between soil fertility characteristics, crop management and socio-economic factors, such as household resource endowment and gender of the farmer, on climbing bean productivity and yield responses to basal P fertiliser in northern Rwanda. Through a combination of detailed characterisations of 12 farms and on-farm demonstration trials at 110 sites, we evaluated variability in grain yields and
responses to fertiliser. Grain yields varied between 0.14 and 6.9 t ha−1 with an overall average of 1.69 t ha−1. Household resource endowment and gender of the farmer was strongly associated with Climbing bean yield, even though these were partly confounded with Sector. Poorer households and women farmers
achieved lower yields than wealthier households and male farmers. Household resource endowment and gender were likely to act as proxies for a range of agronomic and crop management factors that determine crop productivity, such as soil fertility, current and past access to organic manure and mineral fertiliser,
access to sufficient quality staking material, ability to conduct crop management operation on time, but we found evidence for only some of these relationships. Poorer households and female farmers grew beans on soils with poorer soil fertility. Moreover, poorer households had a lower density of stakes, while stake density was strongly correlated with yield. Diammonium phosphate (DAP) fertiliser application led to a substantial increase in the average grain yield (0.66 t ha−1), but a large variability in responses implied that its use
would be economically worthwhile for roughly half of the farmers. For the sake of targeting Agricultural innovations to those households that are most likely to adopt, the Ubudehe household typology – a Rwandan government system of wealth categorisation – could be a useful and easily available tool to
structure rural households within regions of Rwanda that are relatively uniform in agro-ecology.
Beyond averages: new approaches to understand heterogeneity and risk of technology success or failure in smallholder farming
Vanlauwe, Bernard ; Coe, Ric ; Giller, Ken E. - \ 2016
Experimental Agriculture (2016). - ISSN 0014-4797 - 23 p.
In recent years, many studies have demonstrated the heterogeneity of the smallholder production environment. Yet agronomic research for development (R4D) that aims to identify and test options for increasing productivity has not consistently adapted its approaches to such heterogeneous conditions.
This paper describes the challenges facing research, highlighting the importance of variation in evaluating the performance of soil management recommendations, integrating aspects of production risk management within the formulation of recommendations, and proposing alternative approaches to implement agronomic R4D. Approaches are illustrated using two multi-locational on-farm paired trials, each having one no-input control treatment and a treatment with fertilizer application for maize in Western Kenya and for beans in Eastern Rwanda. The diversity of treatment responses should be embraced rather than avoided to gain a better understanding of current context and its relation with past management.
Understanding variability in soybean yield and response to P-fertilizer and rhizobium inoculants on farmers' fields in northern Nigeria
Ronner, E. ; Franke, A.C. ; Vanlauwe, B. ; Dianda, M. ; Edeh, E. ; Ukem, B. ; Bala, A. ; Heerwaarden, J. van; Giller, K.E. - \ 2016
Field Crops Research 186 (2016). - ISSN 0378-4290 - p. 133 - 145.
Bradyrhizobium - Smallholder farmers - Sustainable intensification - West Africa

Soybean yields could benefit from the use of improved varieties, phosphate-fertilizer and rhizobium inoculants. In this study, we evaluated the results of widespread testing of promiscuous soybean varieties with four treatments: no inputs (control); SSP fertilizer (P); inoculants (I) and SSP plus inoculants (P + I) among smallholder farmers in northern Nigeria in 2011 and 2012. We observed a strong response to both P and I, which significantly increased grain yields by 452 and 447 kg ha-1 respectively. The additive effect of P + I (777 kg ha-1) resulted in the best average yields. Variability in yield among farms was large, which had implications for the benefits for individual farmers. Moreover, although the yield response to P and I was similar, I was more profitable due to its low cost. Only 16% of the variability in control yields could be explained by plant establishment, days to first weeding, percentage sand and soil exchangeable magnesium. Between 42% and 61% of variability in response to P and/or I could be explained by variables including year, farm size, plant establishment, total rainfall and pH. The predictive value of these variables was limited, however, with cross-validation R2 decreasing to about 15% for the prediction between Local Government Areas and 10% between years. Implications for future research include our conclusion that averages of performance of technologies tell little about the adoption potential for individual farmers. We also conclude that a strong agronomic and economic case exists for the use of inoculants with promiscuous soybean, requiring efforts to improve the availability of good quality inoculants in Africa.

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