GNA - A research conducted by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) on the tomato crop in Upper East has revealed that fertilizer application without soil test was the cause of poor yield of tomatoes and other crops in the region.
This came to light at a stakeholder’s forum organised by the IFPRI in Bolgatanga to disseminate the findings to the farmers and to ensure that they were educated enough on the application of fertilizers and other soil nutrients.
Dr Mathias Fosu, a Principal Research Scientist of the Savannah Agriculture Research Institute (SARI), speaking on the topic, “Nutrient Management on the Basis of Soil Testing,” said the research revealed that almost all the farmers, particularly the tomato farmers, did not consult soil scientists to test the soil to know their nutritional status before applying fertilizers.
This, he noted, made a lot of the farmers to either over apply or under apply fertilizers which often led to poor yields of the tomato crop.
Dr Fosu stressed the need for the farmers to always consult SARI to do the soil testing for them and advised them on the right type of nutrients and the quantity to use on their farms.
“If you contact the SARI to conduct soil testing and advice, you stand the greater benefit to get good yields and save money than fertilizer application without soil testing,” he said.
Dr Fosu said the findings also showed that there was inadequate calcium in most of the soil samples in the region and that also affected the yield of tomato making the crop develop diseases that made the fruit to rot.
He said too much nitrogen in the soil as a result of excess application out of ignorance was also identified hence making most of the tomato plant grow a lot more leaves without fruiting.
Dr Fosu advised the farmers to apply manure and compost after ploughing and that nitrogen top dressing should be done within 42 to 45 days after transplanting.
Shashidhara Kolavalli, Senior Research Fellow of IFPRI, said as part of the research conducted, two persons from Ghana were sent to India to understudy good practices of tomato farming for good yields so that it could be replicated in Ghana.
Mr Cletus Acaab, Regional Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), expressed optimism that the research finding would empower the farmers to increase their yields and be able to feed the Northern Star Tomato Factory at Pwalugu which is in high demand of raw materials for production.
Most of the farmers at the forum expressed their ignorance about the proper application of fertilizers and said the research had helped to educate them.
Mr Stephen Apana, a farmer, said: “I used to apply several bags of fertilizers consistently hoping to get more yield and did not get but now I know the tricks and will consult soil scientists to do the testing for me before application