FERTIMAP: A CROP FERTILIZER ADVISORY TOOL
In Morocco, agriculture is an important sector of socio-economic development and a key factor in food security. The performance of this agriculture is linked to multiple factors, including the extent of agricultural land and its quality, climate, production techniques adopted by farmers, available technologies and support policies.
The fertility status of Moroccan soils varies according to its characteristics and cultural history. They are often characterized by low organic matter content and nutrient levels are often a limiting factor for intensive agricultural production. Fertilizer use is still low in relation to crop production potential, in the context of sustainable agriculture. The average fertilizer units used at the national level does not exceed 50 kg / ha (all elements combined), nearly a third of the average consumption of fertilizers in Spain and France (140 kg / ha). This situation is due to several factors, in particular the inadequate supervision of farmers.
The issue of the rational management of soil fertility and the use of fertilizers is therefore a major challenge for the improvement of crop productivity, whether for major crops (especially cereals) which constitute a staple or for higher value-added crops, which represent an important economic lever at national and international level. Soil fertility at the spatial scale is characterized by high variability, which is affected by several parameters that are related to the specificities of agroecosystems, soil conditions and agricultural practices. On the other hand, the fertilizer market in Morocco includes a wide range of fertilizer formulas. Some of these formulas have been developed on the basis of studies, while others are introduced by certain distributors without their composition being justified by the needs of the different crops and / or existing cropping systems.
Several agro-pedological studies have been carried out in different zones of the country since independence, for different objectives (land reparcelling, irrigation, agricultural development, etc.). These studies have often resulted in soil mapping (along with analyzes of some standard profiles), as well as mapping their agronomic abilities. These studies are of great value, but their results are not sufficient to be exploited for recommendations of rational use of fertilizers. One-off soil assessments have also been carried out by some Agricultural Development Offices and Provincial Agricultural Directorates but have remained limited and poorly valued for a targeted agricultural advisory on the proper fertilization of the main crops.
Knowledge of soils and their fertility at the level of the different agricultural zones of the country is therefore a necessary element to improve crop yields while preserving the productive capacity of the land in the long term.
This is what led to the project "Morocco Fertilized Soil Map", the result of a partnership between the Ministry of Agriculture and Maritime Fisheries and the OCP Group, under the Green Morocco Plan. The objective of this project is to develop an innovative fertilization consultancy system to produce more and more sustainably based on the analysis of soil fertility status and crop nutrient requirements .
The Fertimap project is carried out under a research and development agreement signed in June 2007 between the Ministry of Agriculture and Maritime Fisheries (MAPM) and the OCP Group.
Project management : MAPM and OCP Group.
Realization : the National Institute of Agronomic Research (INRA) in partnership with the Agronomic and Veterinary Institute Hassan II and the National School of Agriculture of Meknes.
The project's objectives are :
- knowledge of the cultivated soils fertility in Morocco (8.7 million hectares) with a view to a rational fertilization of the crops. The fertility map concerned potassium, the phosphorus and the organic matter, in addition of other soil attributes;
- • Implementation of an IT solution (interactive expert system), on ground resources and their main characteristics, which is posted on the web at www.fertimap.ma.
- Development of a Web-GIS expert system to support both MAPM regional services and agricultural advisors in crop fertility recommendations based on soil fertility determined on the fertility map or on the basis of Results of soil analyzes carried out by the farmer.
- • Proposal of regional formulas for crop fertilization, based on soil analyzes carried out in the project and crop requirements.
- • Improvement of agricultural advisors capacities, MAPM agents and other actors in soils analysis and crop fertilization management.