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Nitrogen is the most important macronutrient for plants, and high crop productivity can only be achieved by making sufficient nitrogen available to crops. Nitrogen is also the most limiting nutrient in farms across Nepal’s midhills. Traditionally farmers applied farmyard manure to fertilise their needs. In many places this is being supplemented or even entirely replaced by inorganic fertiliser – mainly urea. The price of inorganic fertiliser has increased continuously in recent years and it is only available in limited quantities in areas far from the roadheads. On the other hand, cultivation practices are intensifying with increased cropping intensities and more nutrient-demanding crops as, for example, local varieties are replaced by hybrids and new crops are grown. This can easily lead to declining soil fertility and nutrient mining if it is not compensated for by an equivalent increase in organic or mineral fertilisation.
Cattle urine is a viable alternative to mineral fertiliser. Of the nitrogen excreted by cattle, 60% is found in the urine and only 40% in dung. In traditional sheds, urine is left to be absorbed in the bedding material, while excess urine is channelled out of the shed and disposed of. The technology described here – improved cattle sheds – are designed for collecting the urine in a pit or drum. This pit is generally located in the shed itself or just outside connected to the drainage channel through a pipe and protected from rain and runoff. Where urine is collected for incorporation in farmyard manure, the pit may be directly connected to the manure pit or heap. Urine that is going to be used as liquid manure or organic pesticide has to be stored in a drum for fermentation.
dark green: previous working districts;
light green: districts in 2007
WOCAT database reference: QT NEP1
Location: Nepal midhills
SWC measure: Management
Land use: Annual cropping on rainfed agricultural land
Climate: Humid subtropical
Related approach: Farmer- to-farmer diffusion (QA NEP1); Farmer-led experimentation (QA NEP3); Farmer Field school on integrated plant nutrient systems (QA NEP4)
Compiled by: SSMP
Date: January 2007
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