Alleviating Constrains to Adoption of Improved Soil Fertility Management

Principal Investigators: Aprajit Mahajan, Associate Professor, UC Berkeley; Andre Butler
Research Team: Rupika Singh, Khushboo Gupta
LEAD Centre: Centre for Microfinance (CMF)
Focus Area: Agriculture
Project Geography: Uttar Pradesh, India
Partner: People’s Action for National Integration
Status: Ongoing


Smallholder farmers in low income countries often invest a large proportion of their production costs in fertilizer. However, returns on this investment can be highly variable and maximum potential productivity gains are very rarely achieved. Experimental evidence points to the need for balanced nutrient application in order to maximize the efficiency of each synthetic compound. However, in order to effectively optimize fertilizer use efficiency; targeted advice needs to be generated at the individual level based on current soil fertility status as well as the nutrient demands of the cropping system. At present, most farmers rely on blanket fertilizer recommendations which fail to account for this variability. The emphasis on nitrogen based fertilizers also implies that the supply chains for other nutrients are not well established. As a result, even if farmers had the knowledge allowing them to adopt more effective fertilizer application practices, appropriate and timely supply of fertilizer may still remain a major constraint.

About the Study

The study aims to investigate the constraints to the adoption of a new affordable automated system for delivering balanced fertilizer recommendations to farmers and compare it with recommendations from government soil testing laboratories. The aim of the project is to identify farmer fertilizer adoption patterns. A comparison of differences in take-up rates between different treatments will provide information on the extent to which both information and market inefficiencies are a constraint to adopt improved soil fertility management practices.

The household survey will capture information on demographics, agricultural production decisions (crop choices, labour allocation, input purchases, and fertilizer use), yield, income, consumption expenditure, and assets.