The Maintenance of Fertility on Tobacco Estates in North-Eastern Rhodesia

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One of the principal objects of the Fort Jameson AgricultlJfal Station has been to discover some method of crop rotation and soil management whereby the productivity of the tobacco estates in NorthEastern Rhodesia may be maintained indefinitely and the wasteful process of continually clearing new land eliminated. To this end, experiments were designed and first put into operation in the planting season of 1931-32. Some of these were concluded in 1937, others are still in progress. Meantime, in order to minimize time lost in waiting for the experiments to mature, the writer published an article describing a rotation which, on theoretical grounds, should be suited to the district and its only cash crop-tobacco. [11 This rotation consisted of planting tobacco, with fertilizer, for two years, followed successively by sunn hemp and maize, after which the four-course cycle was repeated. Tobacco is a crop which offers peculiar difficulties to precise experimentation, because quality, quantity and disease have to be taken into account. Also the element of human error is a considerable factor in the picking, curing and grading. Monetary value of the crop is not a constant item, since much depends on the individual buyers and on market fluctuations. In view of these difficulties, constant observation plays a major part in assessing any tobacco experiments, and while a careful record of all yields has been kept, for these reasons it is not proposed to illustrate this article with the full experimental data gainedduring the past seven years. The opinions expressed are, however, essentially based on these records, supplemented by personal observation. The soil on which the experiments were conducted is a deep chocolate to red loam, of a type generally used in the district for the production of flue-cured tobacco, but which would be regarded more as a maize or dark-fired tobacco soil in Southern Rhodesia or Nyasaland.
East African Agricultural And Forestry Journal, 5 (No 5), p. 13-17