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The influence of management and characteristics of the soil on the yield of 24 maize fields in the south of Benin

Caroline JACQUET de HAVESKERCKE student laureate

°1976 Belgium
Bio-engineer in land and forest management, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, 1999

Influence de la gestion et des caractéristiques du sol sur le rendement de 24 champs de maïs dans le sud du Bénin

The traditional African agricultural system based on the alternation of fallow and cultivation allowed for a restoration of the fertility of the soil. Socio-economic changes and population pressure, however, have led to a reduction of the fallow period, which has disrupted the environmental balance : the regeneration of the fertility of the soil is threatened, leading to a degradation of the soil, which results in lower yields. In this region of Sub-Sahara Africa, where agriculture is intensive, the fertility of the soils can be maintained by recycling the organic yield residues and by using nitrogen fixative plants in rotation schemes, combined with a reduced use of inorganic fertilizers depending on the financial possibilities of the local peasants.
The author studied the yields of 24 maize fields in 2 villages in the south of Benin where 6 different treatments were tried out. She analysed the impact of the fertilizers, of the farming practices - especially the combination of maize and oil palm - and of the soil characteristics on the maize yields.
This study fits into the framework of the sectoral priorities of development co-operation : sustainable development and food security.