University Don,Professor Johnson Adesodun, has recommended an alternate source to the use of organic fertilizer in farming. According to him, a weed plant, Mexican Sunflower (Tithoniadiversifolia), which when applied fresh as green mature at 10 tons per hectare, provides the same nutrients as other types of manure and that makes it highly suitable for the kind of soil found in Nigeria.
The Professor of Soil Physics, who is also the Head, Department of Soil Science and Land Management, College of Plant Science and Crop Production (COLPLANT) of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), disclosed that Tithoniadiversifolia, was introduced to West Africa as an ornamental plant, but could grow and suppress other plants, making it a serious threat to farmers. Hence, he decided to carry out a research on the plant, he said. In the course of the research, he disclosed that he realised that when the weed plant was freshly harvested, chopped and ploughed back into the soil, it served as a good source of fertilizer for the soil, saying that the application of compost manure would have produced the same result. Professor Adesodun added that other plants that could also serve as good sources of fertilizer include Panicummaximumand Chromolinarodorata,which are commonly available as weed throughout the country.
Speaking on his major research focus, Professor Adesodundisclosed that it centred on the effect of different land management practices occasioned by the addition of various kinds of organic and inorganic amendments on soil physical properties, as related to carbon and nitrogen sequestration, structural stability, crop production and environmental protection. Professor Adesodun stated that the motivation to embark on his line of research was primarily borne-out of the need to manage thephysical quality of the soil.
It is important that the physical environment of the soil is properly managed. For example, by ensuring that when it rains, the water filters through the soil properly without causing erosion and ensuring that when fertilizer is applied, the soil has adequate soil water to make it available to the plant in order to avoid the case of the soil being chemically fertile and physically infertile.So, it is a combination of physical, chemical and biological management of soil that will ive good soil quality. That was what really motivated me. As soil physicists, we look at the physical aspect of the soil in collaboration with other researchers, he stated.
The Soil Physicist made it clear that he was not against the use and application of both organic and inorganic fertilizers. He, however, stated that there was the need to prepare the soil adequately such that the fertilizer applied would not be lost toleaching, adding that if the soil was not well managed - physically, biological or chemically - it would not give the desired yield. You cannot just dump manure or poultry droppings on land, but to improve the physical quality of soil, application at 10 tons per hectare is very adequate for our fragile soils here. The common manure is poultry manure because of what has been used to compound the feed. You know, it is what you take in that comes out. Poultry manure is the best, when compared to other types.
Speaking on his other research areas, Professor Adesodun said that during his doctorate programme, he had worked on the bioremediation of polluted soils and that he still intends to return to soil pollution studies.Lamenting that the country was not adequately managing its soils for sustainable development, he said Nigerians seem to be very ignorant about the relevance of soil to our life. Soil is fundamental to life on earth here. So, whatever we do, whether agronomic or non-agronomic projects, it is expected that a soil test is first carried out. Some come for soil test when they need to get a bank loan, which requires land evaluation. But generally, people do not carry out these tests and that is why we have low yield from our agricultural activities as well asfailed projects such as roads, buildings etc.. Before you start any project, a soil test must be carried out to know the nature of the soil as most failed building or road projects are linked to the soil.
Speaking further, he disclosed that We have not been carrying out adequate soil tests in the country, but we have only been paying lip service. So, for us to have a sustainable society, soil test is a basic requirement because soil is the basic source of man. My candid advice isat individual level, individualsshould manage their soils in such a way that this resource will be available for both the present and future generation; and at the government level or corporate level, informationsustainable soil management needs to be disseminated and government is in the best position to do that. For example, carrying out community awareness by inviting scientists to advice and educate farmers as well as users, as most researches also need to be supported and be made available to the public through workshops and which takes a lot of money. Also, at the international level, organisations such as the Food andAgriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Bank need do more bypulling togetheravailable information onglobal soil resources and make them available to the community as a whole.
Nigeria pays lip service to research generally. Many people are not paying attention to research and most researches done are at the individual level, particularly, by academics (because if you do not publish, youll perish). Also, there is inadequate support from government and industries such as the agro-service providers, as they do not involve experts in carrying out proper research because it involves money. Nigeria needs to stop paying lip service to research and fund it properly. Researchers also need to be truthful in what they do and not just focus on money, as many people now consider how much they will first make without focusing on the benefits to the people, Professor Adesodun added.