The potential of Azadirachta indica leave biomass as a nutrient source for maize cultivation in Tolon/Kumbungu District of Northern Ghana

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Maize is the major staple food for most communities in Africa. For improved yield, high yielding varieties have been adopted by farmers. In spite of this, maize yields are dwindling. This is due to the extension of cultivation into drought prone, semi-arid areas, declining soil fertility, shortened fallow periods, high rates of erosion, leaching and removal of crop residues without adequate fertilization. Socio-economic studies was conducted in Tolon/ Kumbungu District while field and laboratory studies was conducted at Savanna Agricultural Research Institute in Nyankpala from July to November 2010. This was to evaluate the potential of Azadirachta indica biomass as a nutrient source for maize cultivation. A randomized complete block design (RCBD) was used. Six treatments used were: T1- 6t/ha of biomass, T2- 3t/ha of biomass, T3- 120kg of NPK fertilizer/ha, T4- 3t/ha of biomass with 60kg of NPK fertilizer/ha, T5- 4t/ha of biomass with 40kg of NPK fertilizer/ha and T6- control. The socio-economic survey indicated that, Azadirachta indica is located on farmland and infront of houses in Tolon-Kumbungu District. Is mainly used for roofing poles and fuelwood while pruning is adopted as the main management practice. Laboratory studies indicated that Azadirachta indica biomass contained nitrogen content of 2.07%, 0.12% of phosphorous, 0.20% of potassium, 0.61% of calcium and 0.22% of magnesium. Maize grain yield differed significantly among the treatments. One hundred and twenty (120) kg of NPK fertilizer/ha significantly produced the highest maize grain yield of 3t/ha than all the treatments. The same grain yield of 1.8t/ha was obtained for 6t/ha of biomass (T1), 4t/ha of biomass plus 40 kg of NPK fertilizer/ha (T5), and 3t/ha of biomass plus 60 kg of NPK fertilizer/ha (T4) which recorded the second highest maize yield. 3t/ha of biomass gave maize yield of 1.2t/ha. All the treatments were significantly different from the control. The control had the least grain yield of 0.5t/ha. Highest level of NPK fertilizer application (120 kg/ha) significantly produced the highest maize height (170.2cm). Besides, 6t/ha of biomass (T1), 3t/ha of biomass with 60 kg of NPK fertilizer/ha (T4), 4t/ha of biomass with 40 kg of NPK fertilizer/ha (T5), were not significantly different but were significantly higher than 3t/ha of biomass (T2), and the control. In conclusion, despite the low yield recorded by either sole or combined application of neem leave biomass, small scale farmers who are mostly financially less resourced can adopt the combination of organic and inorganic fertilizers application to enhance nutrients use efficiency, increase the organic matter base of their farms which will enable farmers achieve sustainable yield.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Agroforestry, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Agroforestry,