Soil degradation reduces the quality and quantity of crops produced as the capacity to support animals and plants by the same soil is diminished. This causes the soil to lose the chemical and biological qualities that sustain the millions of organisms living within it.
Over the past few years, fertiliser prices have skyrocketed due to the Russia-Ukraine war, adding the burden on farmers already struggling with the effects of drought and other challenges associated with food production At the Nairobi-based International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology (Icipe) scientists have been burning the midnight oil trying to develop alternatives to taming this pandemic of the soil through the use of insect composted organic fertilisers.
The research focuses on refining and diversifying frass fertiliser production technologies and understanding the impacts of insect-composted organic fertilisers on soil health and crop productivity in different agroecological zones. Dr Dennis Beesigamukama, a Postdoctoral Fellow in Insect Frass Fertilisers and Soil Health and the lead research scientist on the project at Icipe, says use of organic fertilisers have the potential to transform food systems in Africa.
“Organic fertiliser is the one of the solutions of addressing fertiliser crisis and soil degradation. In Africa, about 65 percent of the soil are highly degraded and can no longer support crop production with 25 percent of the soils having the challenges of soil acidity caused by aluminium toxicity and nine percent lack phosphorous,” says Dr Beesigamukama.
“Here at the centre, we use saprophytic insects which feed on decomposing matter as bio converters of organic waste into high quality and cost-effective fertilisers.” All insects that feed on organic matter can be used for production of organic fetiliser.