Boosting Cassava Production and Returns in the Philippines

Grown in many tropical regions, cassava is a staple food that often follows rice and maize in importance. Good performance in low fertility soils and the ability to adapt to occasional droughts makes the crop particularly important for poorer communities.

With cassava typically grown on degraded soils without fertilizer, current yields tend to be well below their potential. Increasing demand for the crop for food, animal feed and industrial purposes has encouraged farmers to increase production and highlighted the need for improved fertilizer practices to improve yields, increase profitability and reverse soil degradation.

To document nutrient management practices for cassava in the Philippines, IPNI designed multiple research and demonstration projects in partnership with the University of the Philippines and the Philippine Department of Agriculture. In total 32 research sites were studied to measure how cassava responded to combinations of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) fertilizers while 4R Nutrient Stewardship was introduced to farmers growing small fields of cassava.

Fertilizer Responses

When grown in low fertility soils cassava yields were greatly increased by fertilizer application. The application of recommended amounts of fertilizer increased average yields to 38 t/ha in 78 field trials, compared to 22 t/ha in unfertilized fields. Yields of 98 t/ha in one location showed the potential for further yield increases under proper growing conditions. After only 1 to 2 years of cassava fertilization, the average yield increase attributed to individual fertilizer nutrient application was 30% for N, 20% for P, and 17% for K.

Cassava yields and farmer profitability are increased when 4R principles of balanced nutrition are adopted, compared with the national recommendation and farmer practice. US$1 = 54 Philippine Peso (Php)

Increased Income

Applying the 4R principles of fertilizer management increased the yield and profitability across 44 trials compare to current national recommendations and typical practice for cassava fertilization. 4R-based practices increased root yields by 25% and gross profit by 18% compared to the national recommendation and by 37% and 24% compared to current farmer practices.

The study amply demonstrated the benefits of balanced fertilizer application for improved cassava yield and farmers’ incomes in rural communities throughout the Philippines. Read more about the project here.