Livestock and sustainable nutrient cycling in mixed farming systems of sub-Saharan Africa. Volume II: Technical papers. Proceedings of an international conference uri icon


  • Achieving sustainable increases in agricultural production in sub-Saharan Africa is both a regional and a worldwide concern. High human and animal population densities in some areas have surpassed land-carrying capacities causing environmental degradation and undermining the long-term stability of these production systems. In attempts to meet the increasing food demands of larger populations, farmers are cultivating more land permanently, grazing lands have diminished and many traditional farming practices that formerly allowed land to rejuvenate are disappearing. An efficient cycling of nutrients among crops, animals and soil is crucial to the sustained productivity of low-input mixed farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa. Access to agricultural inputs such as fertiliser and improved seed is limited. Nutrient balances, or the difference between nutrient inputs and harvests, are negative for many production systems. Although animal manures are perhaps the most important fertility amendment that many farmers apply to cropland, livestock can also contribute to these nutrient imbalances. Excessive removal of vegetation by grazing animals or harvesting feeds can deplete soil-nutrient reserves and result in decreases in soil productivity. A major portion of nutrients consumed by livestock may also be unavailable for recycling due to volatilisation, erosion and leaching losses, and uneven deposition of nutrients by animals in the landscape. The climatic and socio-economic changes currently taking place in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa suggest that sustainable increases in agricultural production from an increasingly fragile ecosystem require new and innovative crop, livestock, and soil-management strategies. To further this objective, the International Livestock Centre for Africa (ILCA) and its cosponsors convened this conference to bring together national and international experts in livestock (cattle, sheep and goats) nutrition and management, ecology, agronomy, soil science and socio-economics to address fundamental issues of nutrient balances, agricultural productivity and the well being of the people, livestock and environment of sub-Saharan Africa

publication date

  • 1995