Due to the nitrogen-fixing ability of soy, rotating cotton crops with soybean improves soil fertility to increase yieldsThe Strategic Partnership Grant was awarded to NWK South Africa to stimulate investment into their Zambian subsidiary NWK Agro Services. NWK Agro Services acquired the former Dunavant Cotton Company in 2010, inheriting an outgrower base estimated at over 100,000 contract farmers.

A NWK soybean outgrower scheme pilot introduced soy as a primary source for soil fertility in rotation with cotton and other crops. The grant was used to finance a portion of the soy seed cost and provide training and agronomy services to farmers.

Objectives

  • The key objective of the program was to enable NWK to pilot a soybean outgrower scheme using their existing grower base and to introduce soy as a primary source for soil fertility in rotation with cotton and other crops. The pilot was designed to increase yield and make surplus soy available for additional cash revenue for the farmers. GIS was also employed to conduct precision soil mapping and determine soil deficiencies that needed to be remedied.

Beneficiaries

  • Smallholder farmers benefited from increased yields and surplus soy inventory sold as an alternative crop for revenue.

Results and Outcomes

  • NWK used grant assistance to finance a portion of the soy seed costs and provided training and agronomy services to farmers, successfully transferring new technology.
  • NWK AGRO services conducted precision soil sampling using GIS, and a GPS-based Market Information System (MIS) was introduced to give soy producers access to information.
  • Farmers applied "Good Agricultural Practices" (GAP) in applying inoculants to produce higher yields.
  • Soil sampling revealed a pattern of soil nutrition deficiencies in specific areas, enabling NWK to advise farmers to compensate with fertilizer application where deficiencies were detected using GIS mapping technologies.
  • Yields varied between ecological regions, with treated soy proving to be higher yielding in almost all comparisons.

Photo: Due to the nitrogen-fixing ability of soy, rotating cotton crops with soybean improves soil fertility to increase yields
 

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