Soil amendments are often unavailable in adequate quantities for increased crop production in smallholder cereal-based cropping systems in Africa. In order to increase crop yields and encourage farmers to apply inorganic fertilizers, fertilizer micro-dosing technology was developed. Fertilizer micro-dosing or “micro-fertilization” consists of the application of a small quantity of mineral fertilizer together with seeds of the target crop in the planting hole at sowing or 2-4 weeks after sowing. The objective of this paper is to review literature concerning crops responses to fertilizer micro-dosing in West Africa. The review also evaluates the benefits and challenges associated with nutrient management under fertilizer micro-dosing and supportive strategies for further improvement in the efficient use of limited nutrient sources of smallholder farmers were suggested. Recent scientific developments on fertilizer micro-dosing revealed that this technology has given promising results in respect of crop yields improvement, fertilizer use efficiency and economic returns. Other studies have, however, indicated that fertilizer micro-dosing increases the risk of soil nutrient imbalances due to low-input. For this reason, we suggest that fertilizer micro-dosing should be used in concert with organic amendments to optimize productivity of smallholder farmers in West Africa.
Key words: Fertilizer micro-dosing, smallholder farmer, crop yield, farmer’s income.
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