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Paper Number 3

Plant nutrient management for improving 
crop productivity in Nepal*

* This country report has not been formally edited and the designations and terminology used are those of the author.

D.P. Sherchan and K.B. Karki
Soil Science Division, Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC)
, Nepal


Nepal’s economy largely depends on its agriculture sector. Priority strategies, both technical and legislative, have been put in place to achieve sustainable agricultural productivity. Several research studies involving application of modern agriculture technologies have been conducted to address the problem of low crop production, soil fertility, nutrient imbalance and the like. In the legislative aspect, the Nepal had long formulated its Agriculture Perspective Plan (APP) to accelerate agriculture economic growth. However, APP put emphasis on boosting up the agriculture production through use of chemical fertilizers and irrigation in high production potential areas. Researchers have noted the emerging deficiencies of micronutrients especially zinc, boron and molybdenum and are increasing in extent in intensively cropped areas in different ecological belts of the country. Zinc has become a yield limiting in the major rice producing areas of the country. There is likewise a growing concern of the long-term impacts of fertilizer inadequacy and mismanagement in the rapid deterioration of soil health. The country’s researchers have conducted a wide range of soil nutrient conserving activities that included management of acid soils, the adoption of sloping agricultural technologies, the use of biofertilizers. The Twenty Years NARC vision (2021) is another strategic master plan for action that was developed few years back to guide research and development activities in the country. It involves the conduct of efficacy testing transferrability of results of researches from the research stations to outreach sites where farmers will participate in testing the technology.

1. Introduction

Agriculture remains Nepal’s principal economy activity employing around 65.62 percent of the population (23.3 milion). The agriculture sector alone contributes 38.81 percent to the national GDP. The current food production is not sufficient to meet the food requirement of the growing population which is at a rate of 2.25 percent indicating serious food insecurity (MOAC, 2005). Therefore, agriculture is a priority sector and there is a strong need to appraise the potentiality. At the same time subsistence farming has to be changed to commercial agriculture to uplift the economic status of poor people. Unavailability of appropriate technology, rain water erosion in the hills and mountains and nutrient mining, and increasing cropping intensities without judicious fertilization application have been the major technical problems. Small land holding, subsistence farming and poverty are social constraints. The potential arable land is already under cultivation and there is not much scope to increase. The alternative option would be to cultivate the forest land and the marginal land which are already at the state of degradation.

The productivity of major cereal crops except maize and millet and horticultural crops are far below compared to the neighbouring countries (Kaini, 2004). For the last 15 to 20 years, the productivity per unit area is not attaining to the expectation. Few cereal crops show insignificant improvement that could be because of introduction of new crop varieties and increased in arable land (Figure 1a). This decrease or stagnant crop production is mainly due to land degradation (Karki and Dacayo, 1990, Shah and Shreier, 1991). A wide yield gap exists between the farmers’ field and research stations and attainable yield (Figure 1b). Inadequate plant nutrient supply and poor quality of seeds could be one of the major factors governing food production.


Figure 1 (a and b). The productivity of the major crops and the existing yield gap

The agriculture policy of the government in 2061 also emphasizes priority for improving production and productivity of agriculture. In addition the annual growth rate for the 10th five years plan has been set at 4.1 percent. For the last 9th five years plan the achievement was only 3.3 percent. The sluggish economic growth in the country has been realized as a result of poor performance in agriculture sector.

The APP has also envisioned high consumption of fertilizers in the high production potential areas for better food security. A number of long-term and medium terms field experiments indicated use of both organic and inorganic sources of plant nutrients for sustaining the productivity for a range of cropping patterns (Sherchan, et al., 1999; Regmi, 1998; Tripathi, 1998). Therefore, soil fertility is one of the priorities to boost the productivity of crops and soils. This paper attempts to review the past research activities carried out in Nepal and highlight the useful findings and to analyse the bottlenecks in research and development aspect and raise few pertinent issues relevant to the Nepalese situation.

2. Source of plant nutrients

The various sources of plant nutrients in the Nepalese farming system have been identified (Carson, 1992). Among them chemical fertilizer is becoming gradually a major source (Figure 2). Since the import data indicates an increasing trend. However, earlier to the introduction of mineral fertilizer into Nepal in 1952, crop production mainly depended on farmyard manure (Pandey and Joshy, 2000). Since fertilizer demand increased and the government agency, Agriculture Input Corporation (AIC) the sole authority in fertilizer import could not meet the demand, the HMG of Nepal deregularised fertilizer import policy in 1996/1997. The total N, P, and K consumption is around 35 kg/ha. The statistics show around 75 percent of the total imported fertilizer is consumed in Terai (accessible area) and only was 25 percent in the hills and mountains. There has been constant complains on the quality and supply of fertilizers in the market after the deregulation of fertilizers policy.


Figure 2. Chemical fertilizer imported into the country

The HMG Nepal has appointed fertilizer inspectors in various districts, however, due to lack of analysis facilities, quality control is not easy. Monitoring to control the quality of fertilizers has been in progress. The supply of chemical fertilizers on time is still not guarantee that restricts use on right time and the majority of farmers cannot afford the costly fertilizers. Frequent change of fertilizers types loose confidence amongst poor farmers.

Cropping pattern, land drainage (soil moisture), access to resources cash, market opportunities, fertilizers types and crops species determine the nutrient management in the Terai, hills and mountains area. The irrigable areas is around 32 percent of the total arable land and the majority of areas are rainfed. The bottleneck with the use of farmyard manure and compost are labour availability, access to forest resources that restrict adequate supply of the composting materials. The farming system both in the hilly and flat land (Terai) is complex, diverse and predominantly resource poor. Pound et al. (1990) attempted to show the linkages between the forest, livestock and crop production (Figure 3) and soil management is influenced by these components. Therefore, the agriculture productions and productivity are largely determined by the soil management for improving as well as maintaining the productivity of soils and crop for long-term without an adverse effect on soil environment as well.


Figure 3. The Nepalese farming system (Pound et al., 1995)

3. Nutrient flow and balance in the Nepalese farming system

Plant nutrients are coming to the soil system from various sources (Figure 4). Forest and livestock are the major sources of nutrients that have been influenced greatly by current changing circumstances. External sources of plant nutrient particularly the chemical fertilizers depends on imports from outside, purchasing capacity of farmers and availability on right time. A limited study conducted to estimate the nutrient balance showed mixed results. Ghani and Brown (1997) reported that the balance of plant nutrients N, P, K and S were estimated after the harvest of the early rice, the main season rice, the maize and the wheat. The early rice showed negative balance of K and S. At two sites N was negative but P was found to be positive balance in all the tested sites. After the maize harvest the N balance was found to be positive around 60 percent of the tested sites. But P, K and S were largely negative. After the wheat harvest N, P, K and S were found strongly in negative balance. This is very surprise to note that despite adequate K in the Nepalese soils the balance is negative. However, Karki (2004) reported that reserve soil K in intensive farming areas is declining. Regmi et al. (2002) reported that application 40 kg/ha potash under rice-rice and wheat rotation cannot maintain K balance in soils. Pandey et al. (1998) reported results of a three years experiment on rice and wheat rotation in a low land rainfed condition that three major nutrients N, P and K found in negative balance after rice harvest. Application of 50 kg/ha nitrogen, 30 kg/ha phosphorus and 30 kg/ha potash were also found negative in balance. The result also indicated that farmyard manure at a rate of 10 t/ha is not enough to maintain nutrient balance under rice and wheat rotation system. Pilbeam et al. (1998) estimated nitrogen balance in positive referring to the nutrient management system of the middle mountain region. Bhattarai et al. (2000) reported negative balance of the vegetables cultivation in the majority of study site except at few locations. They have emphasized use of bacterial fertilizers for maintaining productivity and soil health. However, there is lack of proper study to quantify by the nutrients contribution from various sources and losses through the system.


Figure 4. Nutrient flow components in the Nepalese farming system

4. Soil and nutrient losses from the hill slopes

Rain water erosion is a serious land degradation process in the hilly and slopy land that comprises around 86 percent of the total geographical area of the country. The experimental results have been reviewed by Gardner et al. (1995) that indicates a bit of confusion about whether the soil loss from top soils is really a serious environmental degradation or not. Recently Shrestha et al. (2005) published that 32 t/ha of soil is lost every year from hill terraces which are rather serious the inconsistent results obtained from the various locations would be because of the method employed to record losses. However, it has been well identified that more than 50 percent of soil loss occurred during the early monsoon period. Gardner et al. (2000) found out that a nutrient loss through leachate is more serious problem than in the sediments. Nitrate-N losses are high during the transition period between the pre monsoon and main monsoon. K losses also found high in leachate in the early monsoon. Sherchan and Gurung (1992) reported decline of maize productivity over the years because of top soil erosion (Figure 5).


Figure 5. Relationship between cumulative soil loss and the maize productivity

5. Acid soils improvement

Amelioration of acid soils has been recommended by agriculturists since soils nearly 49 percent of the geographic area are acidic in reaction. Acidic condition hinders the availability of many essential nutrients to crops. Karki and Dacayo (1990) recommended 6-9 t/ha of lime on various soils whereas Sherchan (1998) reported that 2 to 4 t/ha lime requirement. However, considering remoteness and lack of logistics support especially in the hills there is a need to find out alternative ways. In this connection Tripathi (2001) initiated to select local and exotic germplasm of maize, wheat, upland rice, soybean and black gram suitable to acidic environment. Tripathi (2000) further recommended applying lime in combination with compost or organic manure. He also recommended 2 t/ha applied for maize and wheat that would increase up to 35 percent yield over non limed plot. So this is one of the areas in nutrient management need to be studied systematically.

6. Bacterial fertilizers, BNF and organic manure

Significant achievements have been obtained in BNF research and its associated fields to improve the productivity of legume crops in Nepal (Bhattarai and Maskey 1987). The productivity of the major summer and winter legumes crops such as soybean and lentil have been increased through using effective inoculums in the farmers’ fields (Figure 6). The effective Rhizobium strains for soybean, black gram, cowpea, lentil, chickpea, peanut, mungbean clover, desmodium, stylosanthees, astragtalus, ipil-ipil, medicago and vetch are being maintained at Soil Science Division, NARC. Technologies for the preparation and application procedures have been well standardized. Rhizobium culture for different leguminous crops is on high demand. Since government agencies have not been able to meet the demand private sectors are encouraged to do this job. Field research conducted on various cropping patterns indicated that integrated use of organic and inorganic sources of plant nutrients is the most sustainable nutrient management. The crop productivity has een found quite encouraging (Figure 7 and 8a and 8b).


Figure 6: Effect of the Rhizobium inoculum on the yield of leguminous crops


Figure 7. Effect of organic and inorganic manure on the productivity of maize under maize relayed millet systems


Figure 8a and 8b. Effect of inorganic and organic manure on rice, wheat and potato

7. Emerging micronutrients problems in soils

Deficiency of micronutrients especially zinc, boron and molybdenum is increasing at different ecological belts at varying intensity (Karki et al., 2004). Zinc is a problem in the Terai belt on rice crop. Farmers are now applying zinc sulphate at a rate of 25 kg/ha without proper extension advice. In the hills where vegetables are being grown during off season and normal season, boron and molybdenum are deficient. There is lack of proper recommendation to farmers as well. The Agro-vets are supplying different kinds of products and their content and efficiency is not known in such circumstance farmers might have to bear financial loss. Some farmers apply these materials to every crop in succession; it may pose toxicity in the long run.

8. Livestock raising and its role in soil fertility management

Livestock provides draft power and manure to agriculture, income, nutritional and other byproducts. An estimation in 2002/2003 shows that the population of animal species such as cattle, buffalo, goats and sheep were nearly 7 million, 3.9 million, 6.9 million and 0.82 million respectively (MoAC, 2003/04). These figures indicate an increasing trend of livestock population. Sherchand and Pariyar (2002) reported that 60 percent of livestock’s feeds come from low quality crop residues and 40 percent from the forest. The estimated feed balance also indicates 34.7 percent feed deficit on TDN basis (Sherchand and Pariyar, 2002). The indigenous system of livestock raising and access to the forest resources have been broken down due to pressure on the land. In higher altitude areas during winter folks of sheep and goat are brought down to the valleys and in situ manuring is done by leaving the animals overnight in the cultivable field. Composting forest litters with animal excreta is another advantage related to livestock production. Table 1 shows the stock density over the carrying capacity. Except in the alpine meadows the rest of range lands are over the stock density than its carrying capacity. The poultry industry is coming up as attractive entrepreneur in the road access areas but at the same time farmers have found new sources of plant nutrients and particularly poultry manures are used for maize and potato crops.

Table 1. Stock density by rangeland type (Pariyar, 1993)


Carrying capacity (LU/Ha)

Stock density (LU/Ha)

Stock density over the carrying capacity

Middle hills 0.31 4.08


Steep grassland

0.01 0.19


Open grassland 0.54 7.07


Alpine meadows 1.42 0.64 0.5

9. Zero/minimum tillage resource conserving technology (RCT) in rice-wheat system

Under the technical and financial support from rice wheat consortium, resources conservation technologies (RCT) such as zero, minimum till and permanent bed planting technologies have been tested and validated. The aim is to utilize the moisture, cost saving and timely seeding wheat for higher productivity. Seeding wheat by Chinese hand tractor saves nearly 50 percent cost compared to the traditional system in the Kathmandu valley. This technology is getting popularity both in the hills and Terai, however, in the hills there is lees potential area to expand much due to narrow steep terraces whilst in the Terai the scope is greater. But the research gap on how best plant nutrients efficiency could be improved is not known clearly. Currently the productivity is at par with the farmer’s method of seeding (Annual report, 2003/04).

10. Role of biogas in improving soil fertility and environment

Methane gas production from animal dung was started in 1973 since then it was popularized extensively in the country. In a study conducted by Karki (2004) reported that there are more than 120,000 biogas plants in the country. Biogas has numerous advantages that improves the environmental condition by reducing the emission of carbon dioxide and preserves forest resources by reducing the total firewood requirement by 49 percent and 51 percent during summer and winter respectively. Farmers perceived that after the installation of biogas, the production farmyard manure and compost have been reduced. But if the quality of manure is considered then the biogas slurry contain high nutrients. The application of biogas slurry increased maize, rice, wheat and cabbage by 30 percent, 23 percent, 16 percent and 25 percent over control respectively (Karki 2004). Installation of biogas by using animal dung as main source of feeding the biogas plant has improved environment but the effluent use in agriculture has not been successful. It is mainly due to the effluent being in liquid form and Nepalese farmers have scattered land holding being difficult to transport. Improvement over the quality of compost and nutrient losses during handling needs to be studied.

11. Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT): A potential technology to improve productivity

The SALT technology has been tested in the hills of Nepal and found potential to reduce run off and soil loss and also provide fodder and biomass for various purposes. Farmers have grown fodder trees and other plant species on the edge of terraces for fodder fuel and timber. Farmers do have immense knowledge on the effect on soil properties from the fodder trees. They perceived that the hedge row plant reduces the total land area available for crops. A participatory research on SALT technologies carried out by the soil science division reveals that fruit trees with small stature would fit into their system and can fetch some cash earnings. There is a need to blend farmers’ local knowledge and the SALT together. Currently, the promotional activities have been constrained by unavailability of seedlings and saplings and open grazing systems (Maskey, 2001). During pre-monsoon period soil is exposed and identification of suitable cover crops to conserve soils and nutrients loss is recommended. In addition, study on nutrient flow in watershed base on the biophysical feature and hydrological behaviour needs to be taken up. Agri-silvipastoral approach is a successful approach under the leached hold forestry programme (Pariyar, 2002). Various types of fodder species and nitrogen fixing legumes and trees can be established and the fodder and other need of the rural household can be met. The government policy also encourages for the utilization of the degraded or marginal land for fodder, fuel and other purposes particularly for targeted group of people with very low income and they are landless. Some of the initiative developed in Nepal is the community forest which is run by the communities under the supervision or advice of the respective district forest offices.

12. Appropriate technical/policy solutions

The 10th five years plan of the government policy is to alleviate the poverty and improve the living standard of the Nepalese people. The recent national policies of HMG/Nepal 2061 in agriculture are:

  1. Increased agriculture production and productivity
  2. Making agriculture sector competitive in regional and world market by developing basis for commercial agriculture system
  3. Conservation, production and use of natural resources, environment and bio-diversity.

Before the inception of the current government policy, Agriculture rerspective Plan was in placed exclusively looking to accelerate the agriculture economic growth. The strategies envisaged in the APP are as follows:

  1. Major dominant food crops rice, maize, wheat and potato
  2. High values crops apple, off season vegetables, vegetables seeds, sericulture and apiculture
  3. Dairy production, animal nutrition high value fodder crops
  4. Develop soil fertility and shallow tube well farming system
  5. Develop strong outreach systems
  6. Develop scientific information system
  7. Develop close association with other organization in agriculture research

APP has emphasized to boosts up the agriculture production through use of chemical fertilizers and irrigation in high production potential areas. This would raise environmental effect on soil health. The Twenty years NARC vision (2021) is another strategies document that was developed few years back to guide research and development activities in the country. The strategies are:

  1. Demand-driven and appropriate technology developed for priority client groups and fed into uptake networks.
  2. Demand-driven agricultural policy, trade, marketing and socio-economic research conducted and fed into uptake networks.
  3. Coordination and networking to maximise the impact of agricultural research enhanced.
  4. NARC ability to achieve its objectives improved.
  5. Mandated direct services delivered appropriately.

These all policy papers or documents address the poverty reduction with better agriculture growth, sustainability of the systems and environments for future and improve the capability to compete in the world market. These all changing scenarios have an implication in current agriculture farming and future sustainability of the system. Therefore, an integrated nutrient management which uses all sources of plant nutrients (mineral fertilizers, compost, bacterial fertilizers) could be scientifically applied. Sustainable plant nutrients management leads to improve productivity thereby improve the livelihood of the people and better environment since it takes into consideration the factors that may have negative effect. Some of the appropriate solution and issues need to be addressed and they are discussed in brief below:

A. Identification of research domain

There is a need to identify the domain for research and development. The flat land or the Terai is basket for food production in Nepal although 66 percent of the populations live in Middle Mountain region and food deficit is the major problem. Therefore, two domain that is Terai and hills and two sub-domain irrigated and non-irrigated. Irrigated area as high production potential domain and the high cropping intensity as well as consumption of mineral fertilizer is high. In non-irrigated area with low cropping intensity including fertilizer consumption is low. In simpler terms the Khet land (irrigated level terrace in the hills) where rice-based cropping pattern is the major one and another is Bari land (upland) where maize based is the major cropping pattern.

Therefore, the strategy should be to use balance application of chemical fertilizers along with making best use of organic resources. Green manuing practices should be promoted since its positive effect on crop production has already been proven in warmer air temperature regime and irrigated domain. Both exotic green manuring plant species such as Sabena and the indigenous non leguminous species as Adhatoda vassica (3.8 percent N), Artmesia vulgaris (2.5 percent N) have been tried, however, adoption is weak that might be because of labour, mechanization and other social factors. In the hills due to remoteness the use of chemical fertilizer is restricted very much but in the areas where nutrients deficient have been investigated, the right type of chemical fertilizers can play a greater role. However, still the compost and farmyard manure would be the major sources for plant nutrients, therefore, the quality production and proper management of compost or farmyard manure would be priority in the hills. APP has also emphasized on organic matter management in the hills (APP, 1995).

B. Chemical fertilizer import policy

Government lifted the single door system of importing chemical fertilizers expecting a free and healthy competition in the market. The government has put subsidy in transportation of the fertilizers and provided improved seeds for twenty six very remote districts to support the food security. International donors fund import of chemical fertilizers was also established to commensurate the demand and ensure the continuous supply. Till now there are limited choices for farmers. The highest demand nearly more than 50 percent is Urea followed by Diammonium Phosphate (DAP), Mutate of Potash (MoP) and few others. Mixed or multiple nutrients containing fertilizers would give much more benefit compared with straight fertilizers provided the market price is affordable to farmers. Therefore, we should think whether the market price on certain chemical fertilizer such as ammonium sulphate or Urea can be increased and at the same time the market price can be relaxed for mixed or complete fertilizers type.

C. Formulation of fertilizers recommendation

Joshi and Deo (1975) developed a comprehensive recommendation on economic use of fertilizers for various crops in 1975. Since then, no further systematic work has been tried in Nepal. We can expect quite different response level due to change in cropping pattern, increasing intensity and change in soil fertility status. The current recommendation should tie up with the farmer’s knowledge and should be most practical from farmer’s perspective. Site specific fertilizer recommendation has been made to the important crops but farmers deviate and use their own rate of fertilizer (Joshi, 1997). This indicates that farmers do have their own economic judgment which we overlooked. Dissemination of information on chemical fertilizers handling would be an area for promotion on the use of fertilizers.

D. Improve biological processes in soil system

Evidences indicate that research is needed to improve the quality and quantity of compost as well as its efficient management. Poor quality of compost and its poor management and decreasing production are some of the well known hurdles. In the Terai, animal dungs are largely used for fuel purposes but gradually there has been increasing use for biogas or methane gas production. This has been a positive change for better environment. But farmers are complaining of less production of organic manure because of this new practice. The researchable areas identified are animal shed management for collection; reduction of the losses from rainwater and sun, and faster decomposition and use of all available biomass to improve their quality. It has also been stressed in the 10th five-year plan of the government to conserve and utilize the natural resources and environment for the prduction and utilization of the organic fertilizers. However, we should have strategies for farm level production and commercialization in an accessible areas.

An integrated nutrient model developed quite some time ago as shown below Figure 9 was a successful programme but it has not been popularized or has not been well adopted by large number of farmers. There should be a follow up study to see the impact on soil fertility management and to look on how best we can promote to wider areas.


Figure 9. Integrated plant nutrient components in the Nepalese farming system

E. Soil moisture management and conservations/cover crops

Around 68 percent of the total cultivated land is rainfed. The efficiency of applied nutrient would be greater if the optimum moisture is available that eventually improve the crop productivity. The mulching practices, water harvesting and utilize them as life saving in the form of irrigation would be an option. Since during monsoon more than 80 percent of the total rainfall occurs but the excess water could be reserved for dry season use. Identification of suitable species which could be used as cover crops for early monsoon period would be a solution to mitigate the soil and nutrients losses. Maskey et al., (2000) also recommended research and development activities on cover crops since biomass availability could be a major issue in near future.

F. Inclusion of legumes in crop rotation

Both in the hills and Terai regions of Nepal, legumes are one of the important sources of protein and covers around 316 010 ha area with total production of 265 360 mt (MoAC, 2004). However, N-fixing capacity of these legume crops varieties is low. So the priority work should be to develop high productive varieties and improve the N-fixing capacity by developing appropriate strains. Currently, Soil Science Division has identified effective strains of most legume crops. The current export is 12.2 million USD. Therefore, pulses could be very attractive exportable commodity.

G. The role of women in soil fertility management

It is well emphasized the importance of women roles in soil fertility management practices (Turton et al., 1995) since their overall contribution in agriculture is very high. Study reveals that compost preparation and application in the field is solely the work of women in Nepal. However, we have not captured their knowledge and experiences to improve the plant nutrients management.

H. Organic product and commercialization

Organic farming is one of the policies of the government under the competitive and commercialized agriculture. In Nepal, commercialization in agriculture is yet to be promoted. The recent activities show encouraging move. With the increasing living standard of the people there would be more demand for quality products in the market and also for export. However, guidelines are not available for the production of organic produce.

I. Nutrient management through in watershed concept

The biophysical features of a watershed in Nepal are quite unique and do not match with each other. The hydrological behaviour depends upon the condition of a watershed as well. Crops and soil management between the upper and lower catchments are also determined by the moisture regime and temperature regime. The flow of nutrients cycle between the upper and lower catchments has a strong relationship in soil fertility management. The rain water erosion occurs in the upper catchments and gets deposition in the down valleys. This is the area where our attention is required.

13. Dissemination of technologies and capacity building

A. Research planning process

It has been felt that the spread and adoption of technologies is rather slow or weak. This could be due to poor planning processes and setting of priorities. NARC recognizes that the first step would be to strengthen the planning process. There are a series of discussion forums such as regional technical working group, planning and coordination meeting, review meetings to address these issues. Different stakeholders such as Government, Non-governmental Organization, private sectors and innovative and progressive farmers participated in the meetings. Based on the problems identified by the working groups, projects are submitted to NARC (once a year) for research funding. Similarly for development activities proposals are developed and submitted to the Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperative for approval of fund. Projects are implemented in the following years after the concerned authorities approved the proposals.

B. Testing and validation of technologies

In the field of crops research, participatory research methodologies have been well standardized and being followed whilst it has been experienced difficult to follow the same approach in case of soil related activities. However, some of the successful approach experienced by the Sustainable Soil Management Programme (SSMP) project can be expanded to other areas of Nepal. Group approach is reported as most appropriate method of diffusing technologies with limited financial, technical and managerial supports (SSMP, 2003). Diffusion of sustainable soil management (SSM) practices from leader-farmer to group-farmer is considered to a low cost and demand driven extension approach. The leader-farmers can be developed as a resources person. They can also provide their expertise to other non-project areas. They have also found that farmers-led experiments are effective to diffuse SSM technologies due to the involvement of the farmers. Initially, integrated pest management (IPM) project started the farmer’s field school (FFS) approach in pest management. The same method was also applied in SSM activities especially on compost and farmyard manure production and management. This was found quite effective. A system approach is followed in case of integrated nutrient management aspect. Bhattarai et al., (2000) experience on the farmer’s field school (FFS) approach is quite successful to demonstrate and validate the integrated nutrient management systems in diverse agri-ecological and social environment condition. It has been found that farmers have developed their skills and adopted the technologies comparatively in short period of time.

C. Technology testing and validation through NARC outreach sites

The technology developed on research farm will be further verified in out reach sites where farmers will participate in testing the technology. All research stations and regional centres under the NARC umbrella have three to four outreach sites depending upon the area coverage for testing and validating the technologies. Field trials will be put in the farmers fields in close cooperation with the farmers. At various critical stages of crops, visits will be made by the group of farmers. Interaction and discussion will be held to evaluate the technology. Neighbouring farmers will frequently visit the experimental sites and interact with concerned technical staffs and the farmers actually testing the technology. Observational visits of all the stakeholders such as extension workers, agricultural planners members of NGOs, private sectors including farmers will be organized when the crop is about to be harvested. Detailed discussion on the pros and cons of the technology to be disseminated will be discussed and further verification will be done if needed. Socio-economic aspect of the technology will also b discussed. Then scaling up will be carried out. After the visit, posters and pamphlets will be prepared including media broadcasting.

D. Capacity building

Training is a strong means to improve the capability of the researcher, extension agent, NGOs partners and the clients or the ultimate end users. Various forms of training modules are being organized. Among them, training conducted in the field itself is the most effective. Female farmers have problem to attend the training since they can not stay overnight outside because of cultural problem. It is also experienced that long duration training is not effective. Identification of innovative farmer to implement activities through him/her is also found effective approach.

14. Conclusions

The poor socio-economic condition is directly related to degradation of natural resources mainly land, soil and forest that also eventually determine the sustainability of the system. These resources are gradually at danger state in Nepal due to population pressure. The difficult terrain condition prevails smooth running of lives, however, we may have to exploit the potentiality. Since the range of agro-ecological environments is within a very short distance, agriculture provides a plenty of opportunities to diversify. We feel that there is no dearth of policies to guide or lead either it is a research or development activities, however, the main bottlenecks would be the implementation phase that often lack in terms of cash/kinds and human resources. Soil fertility management is no doubt a priority area. Based on our experiences and looking at the farming systems, the integrated nutrient management approach to improve the productivity of crops and maintain a sound environment would be a sustainable approach. There are few areas where research is lacking such as the contribution to plant nutrient from the various sources and need to quantify and measure the deficit. However, dissemination and quicker adoption of soil fertility based technologies should be the priority issues. For that we may have to improve the capability of personnel’s involved in research and development.


The authors are highly grateful to the Executive Director Dr Ram Pratap Sah for nominating the first author to attend the workshop and encouragement to write the paper. Dr S.L. Maskey, Director for Crops and Horticulture Research and Mr S.B. Pandey, Director for Planning and Coordination, Nepal Agricultural Research Council are thankful for their suggestion and valuable criticism to improve the content of the paper. We would also like thank the FAO Rome for giving us opportunities to attend the workshop and share our experiences in the field of plant nutrient management as well as for financial support. Colleagues of Soil Science Division Mrs Shanti Bhattarai, Mr S.K. Rai, Dr J. Tuladhar and Mr P. Sharma are also duly knowledge for their valuable inputs for preparing the paper.


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