Farm surveys in Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique were carried out to assess the determinants of fertiliser use given continued low yields, low organic matter and general poor soil health in Southern African soils. Regression modelling showed that fertiliser use was influenced by household and farm characteristics. In addition, it was also influenced by social and human capital and farmers’ perceptions of the effect of fertilisers on soil fertility. Farmers who perceived fertilisers as bad for their soil were less likely to adopt their use. This is a key result, as the emerging discussions on a green revolution for Africa, as well as the continued food crisis discussion, are prompting increased fertiliser use as an immediate intervention for increasing nutrient inputs into agriculture in the developing world. Increased policy efforts should be placed not only on increasing access to fertilisers but also on evolving farmers’ perceptions and attitudes towards fertiliser use.