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Chapter 5 - Role of the agricultural universities

The Universities have played a very important role in the training of personnel currently working in the specialized crop institutes (sugar cane, rice, tobacco, citrus, vegetables, etc.). These institutes have established the critical levels of the main nutrients in the soil, the extraction coefficients and rates to be used under different soil and climactic conditions. They are responsible for the regional location of the crops and their varieties, as well as for the establishment and development of the standards of organic and inorganic fertilization, the application of soil amendments to correct acidic and basic soils and other technologies. The Universities themselves have contributed mainly to basic aspects such as dynamic nutrient processes (sorption, lixiviation and fixation), nutrition physiology and crop improvement.

These institutions give technical advice directly to the farmers and account for most of the agriculture extension.

The MINAG's Soil Institute has summarized the research and provides basic information on all crop nutrient requirements, apart from sugar cane. These general recommendations are modified as required taking into consideration the expected yield, soil analyses and the financial situation.

The Sugar Ministry (MINAZ) supervises the sugar cane crop. Among the main items of expenditure are fertilizers and herbicides, which are surpassed only by fuels and oil. In spite of the serious economic crisis due to the loss of preferential markets and to the low sugar prices on the world market, it was able to implement the Fertilizers and Amendments Recommendations Service (SERFE). It upgraded five soil and plant analysis laboratories, developed specialized decision-making software and participated in a programme of agricultural extension that has achieved important progress.

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