Farmers’ Perceptions of Soil Fertility and Fertilizer Yield Response in Kenya
53 Pages Posted: 19 May 2011 Last revised: 24 May 2011
Date Written: August 1, 2008
To develop soil fertility techniques that respond to farmers’ actual concerns, researchers and agricultural development practitioners in developing countries need to identify how farmers in those regions form perceptions on soil quality and crop response to inputs. Using survey and farm soils data collected in 2002 and 2005 from smallholder farmers in western Kenya, we study whether farmers’ subjective perceptions of soil fertility and impacts of fertilizer vary statistically with objective estimates generated by laboratory and statistical procedures. Our results show that farmers’ perceptions of soil fertility on their plots are largely determined by observed crop yields. By contrast, farmers’ perceptions on the impacts of fertilizer on yields vary rather closely with estimated returns to fertilizer application. This suggests that farmers’ perceptions of soil fertility and the impacts of fertilizer are driven by observed yields. Implications for fertilizer use (the focus of current soil fertility management policies) and long term and integrated soil fertility management are drawn.
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