Soil management, fertilizer types and associated practices for maize in Benue State


August 1, 2023 - Blessing Iveren Agada, Sieglinde Snapp, Lenis Saweda O. Liverpool Tasie


Productive soils play a key role in agricultural production and crop yield. However declining soil fertility stemming largely from intense and mismanaged farming practices, limits smallholder farmer’s productivity in Nigeria and many other parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Current fertilizer recommendations for maize farmers in Nigeria do not sufficiently take into account the diversity in soil types, the biophysical properties, rainfall intensities and farmer’s resources and yield goals. When fertilizers are applied without a clear understanding of whether they are needed or not, this leads to nutrient imbalances. In addition, inappropriate fertilizer use typically leads to high production cost, yield loses and soil degradation causing loss of soil micronutrients and macro nutrients resulting in severe and most times invincible health problems for people and animals as well as contributing to greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions.

In this light, a characterization of soil was carried out on small holder farmers’ fields in Benue State Nigeria. Characterizing the soil nutrient status as well as the soil productivity index rating provides a foundation for understanding the current status and how to map out strategic site- specific recommendations tailored to the needs of the maize-based systems in Benue State. Benue State is one of the eight (8) Focal Feed the Future Nigerian Agricultural Policy Activity Focal States. Soil samples totaling 883 were geo-referenced and analyzed for pH, soil texture (sand, silt and clay), bulk density (BD), organic matter (OM), phosphorus, potassium, available moisture content (AMC) and nitrogen. Following Pierce et al. (1983) soil productivity index ratings, a digitalized map was created for Benue State. See link:

This report presents findings of the soil tests and soil productivity index ratings from the geo referenced farmers’ fields in Benue State. It builds on previous documents: Policy Research brief 69: Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy titled Changing the fertilizer conversation in Nigeria: The Need for Site Specific Soil-Crop Fertilizer Use (Policy_Brief_69 new.pdf ( and the Farmers manual created as an easy to use pamphlet titled Guide on how to account for soil physical properties and fertilizer use in Maize based systems see link: farmer_fertilizer_manual-finalized.pdf ( Farmers’ perceptions on key issues are also documented.

The main objective of this report is to use the projects’ generated soil maps, to characterize soil nutrient status and soil productivity for Benue State. We seek to proffer implementable solutions and policy recommendations for soil management, fertilizer types and associated practices in maize-based farming systems, geared towards sustainably increasing grain yield (through proper management) while reducing costs. We also provide baseline data for these soil properties open source for making informed decisions by diverse stakeholders including government, development practitioners and farmers.


Agada, B.I., Sieglinde, S., & Liverpool-Tasie, LSO. (2023). Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Policy Activity Nigeria Agricultural Policy Activity Soil management, fertilizer types and associated practices for maize in Benue State.



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