Decomposition of land nutrient release from ruminant manure on acid sandy soils in the Sahelian zone in Niger, West Africa
MetadataShow full item record
In ago-pastoral systems of the semi-arid West African Sahel, targeted applications of ruminant manure to the cropland is a widespread practice to maintain soil productivity. However, studies exploring the decomposition and mineralisation processes of manure under farmers' conditions are scarce. The present research in south-west Niger was undertaken to examine the role of micro-organisms and meso-fauna on in situ release rates of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) from cattle and sheep¯goat manure collected from village corrals during the rainy season. The results show that (1) macro-organisms played a dominant role in the initial phase of manure decomposition; (2) manure decomposition was faster on crusted than on sandy soils; (3) throughout the study N and P release rates closely followed the dry matter decomposition; (4) during the first 6 weeks after application the K concentration in the manure declined much faster than N or P. At the applied dry matter rate of 18.8 Mg ha-1, the quantities of N, P and K released from the manure during the rainy season were up to 10-fold larger than the annual nutrient uptake of pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum L.), the dominant crop in the traditional agro-pastoral systems. The results indicate considerable nutrient losses with the scarce but heavy rainfalls which could be alleviated by smaller rates of manure application. Those, however, would require a more labour intensive system of corralling or manure distribution.