Fertilizer application and liming practices of small-holder tobacco farmers in Zimbabwe
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A survey of small-holder tobacco farmers' production practices, featuring the use of fertilisers and lime in their tobacco lands indicated that 21 out of a systematically drawn sample of 43 respondents from an area covering over 95 percent of the total small-holder tobacco area of the country, use the recommended rate of basal fertilizer. None of the 43 had their soils analysed for pH or nutrients before growing tobacco or had ever applied any lime before growing tobacco. Forty two soil samples collected from tobacco lands belonging to another group of 42 farmers, similarly selected from the same population of farmers, showed that more than 80 percent of the farmers may be growing tobacco at pH levels below 5.0, and that only about 6 percent of them may be growing it at levels near its optimum. The latter group was predominantly from the northern regions of the country. Most of the soils sampled fell in the pH range 4.0 to 4.5. This trend may suggest that tobacco productivity on small holder-farms may increasingly be threatened with acidity over time and that the fertilizer levels being applied on small-holder farms may not be cost-effective.