Researchers taking data from harvest

The African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) project being managed by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has commenced harvest of the 2016 established field trials in Nigeria. The harvesting of the field trials kicked off on the 29 April at Orire local government area in Oyo state, South West Nigeria with non-destructive plant assessments and a three-day workshop on the harvesting procedure led by Drs Stefan Hauser, IITA/ACAI Senior Agronomist; and Christine Kreye, IITA/ACAI Agronomist and Prof Felix Salako from the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta (FUNAAB).
The harvesting will cover more than 300 trials across seven states in southern Nigeria and will stretch over approximately two months. Three types of trials were established in early 2016 and are now due for harvest.  The trials were investigating the response to fertilizer, the response to intercropping cassava with maize, and the response to different soil tillage intensities and cassava plant densities. In addition, trials were established at different seasons through 2016 to determine the effects of later planting dates and different length of growing periods. These activities were part of work stream 1 of the IITA/ACAI project to generate the required data to develop decision support tools for the extension services.
The field trials were established in selected locations representing the targeted areas of relevance for the six use cases investigated in the IITA/ACAI project. The activities have been regularly monitored from the planting in May/June 2016 and over the following 12 months to determine how cassava responds to different conditions that occur during the growth season and how the crop responds to a range of agronomic practices.
Similarly the IITA Cassava Weed Management Project is harvesting cassava across the three zones—Humid Forest, Southern Guinea and Derived Savannah zones of Nigeria. Results from the harvest will help researchers to make informed decisions on weed control.
IITA/ACAI’s leading agronomists and scientists together with researchers of the National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS), research students, extension officers, and development partners’ organization staff are carrying out all types of evaluations on the crop at regular intervals and monitoring the overall general trial performance.
Commenting on the performance of the on-farm trials, Dr Hauser said the trials performed well.
“We are now looking forward to having a consistent data from the analyses,” he added.
IITA/ACAI field trials were established and run in close partnership with FUNAAB in Ogun, Osun, and Oyo states; and the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) Nigeria in Anambra, Benue, Edo and Cross River states.  Other partners include the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI), CAVA-II, SG2000, Oyo State Cassava Growers Association and NOTORE.
Results from the harvest will be analyzed and used for calibration and validation of models for decision support tools and agronomic recommendations.