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Abstract

Acidity is among the problems that affect crop production in Zambia. The problem is no longer restricted to the traditional agro-ecological region III but has now become widespread in all parts of Zambia. The problem is exacerbated by continuous use of chemical fertilizers and mono cropping. More than 700,000 small scale farmers are troubled by acid soils. The only available and most common way of preventing and ameliorating the problem is through use of lime in the fields. At the recommended rates of about 2 tons, small scale farmers cannot afford. Using data from on-station and demonstration plots carried out by Golden Valley Agricultural Research Trust (GART) and Conservation Farming Unit (CFU), the study determines the yield and financial gains smallholder farmers can achieve if lime was precisely applied at reduced rates in the agro-ecological zones I and II. The results from the marginal analysis show that at reduced rates, lime use is profitable in maize at Batoka research station and in soybeans and groundnuts at Chisamba GART research station. Compost and lime synergy in groundnuts at Chisamba GART research station was profitable with marginal returns of over 150%. Lime could therefore be recommended for use even at reduced rates as the yields are on average higher than where it is not used and the returns were positive.

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