Computer to Help Overcome Yield Constraints in the Tropics
ARS News Service
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
June 11, 1999
Jim De Quattro, (301) 504-1626, firstname.lastname@example.org
How could computers help African farmers who still use oxen to plow their
fields? A scientist with the Agricultural Research Service is part of an
international team working on an answer. ARS is USDA's chief research
The scientists are developing and testing software that extension workers in
the tropics would use to advise farmers. In the tropics, soil acidity,
phosphorus deficiency and climate often limit crop yields. But with the
right computerized "decision support system," a farm advisor could offer
farmers alternatives consistent with their available tools and methods.
The software plan is part of a multi-institutional 5-year program of the
U.S. Agency for International Development to evaluate soil management and
productivity in many countries. Intensive test sites include the Cinzana
region of Mali in west Africa, along with sites in Costa Rica and the
Plant physiologist Dan Israel at ARS' Soybean and Nitrogen Fixation Unit in
Raleigh, N.C., visited the Cinzana last year for a first-hand look at
farming methods. There, oxen till the soil and manure is the main fertilizer
source for millet, sorghum, cowpeas, peanuts, cassava and sesbania.
In the U.S., Israel's research focuses on how soybean root nodules convert
nitrogen from the air to a form plants can use. Cowpeas, Cinzana's main
protein source, also fix nitrogen in this way. But phosphorus deficiency and
soil acidity limit the nodules' efficiency at fixing nitrogen.
The new software draws on years of US-AID funded research at North Carolina
State University, Texas A&M, Cornell University and the University of
Hawaii. The software has three components for making decisions on needs for
lime, nitrogen or phosphorus. NCSU sociologist Frank Smith will evaluate the
software's impact by surveying Tropical extension agents and farmers.
An article about the project appears in the June issue of ARS' Agricultural
Research magazine and on the web at:
Scientific contact: Daniel W. Israel, ARS Soybean and Nitrogen Fixation
Research Unit, Raleigh, N.C., phone (919) 513-3031, fax (919) 515-2167,
This item is one of the news releases and story leads that ARS Information
distributes on weekdays to fax and e-mail subscribers. You can also get the
latest ARS news on the World Wide Web at
* Feedback and questions to ARS News Service via e-mail: email@example.com.
* ARS Information Staff, 5601 Sunnyside Ave., Room 1-2251, Beltsville MD
20705-5128, (301) 504- 1617, fax 504-1648.
To Unsubscribe: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command
"unsubscribe sanet-mg". If you receive the digest format, use the command
To Subscribe to Digest: Email email@example.com with the command
All messages to sanet-mg are archived at: