Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science




Sustainable Agriculture; Sociology

First Advisor

Robert E. Mazur


Declining soil fertility, exacerbated by continuous cultivation of land, poverty and limited access to productive assets, is a crucial factor limiting crop production among smallholders in Uganda. Integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) practices that involve a combination of organic and mineral fertilizers, and other improved farming practices such as planting legumes and diversified crop rotations within cropping systems have been promoted but their adoption rate has remained low. Using empirical data collected through in-depth interviews with 27 smallholders in Masaka and Rakai Districts, this study examined factors influencing farmers’ decision-making processes in experimenting with and adopting ISFM practices and technologies. Significant roles are played by the relative advantage of a practice (derived from local availability of materials, multifunctionality of the practice and cost of investment), ability to observe the success of the practice before adoption (either from fellow smallholders or through experimentation), and compatibility of the practice with existing farm operations. However, the influence of these factors varies among farms because of significant heterogeneity in household wealth, land tenure, social networks, access to input-produce markets and extension services. Extension agents and farmer-to-farmer interactions are the most trusted information sources for ISFM. Recommendations to facilitate adoption ISFM practices include: use of iterative learning approaches that foster interaction among farmers, extension specialists, and researchers; conducting benefit-cost analyses of various practices to facilitate development of adaptable and flexible ISFM measures; and catering for heterogeneity in smallholders’ resource endowments - particularly land size, livestock ownership and income; and policies and programs that improve tenure security and access to credit to facilitate investment in ISFM practices and technologies.


Copyright Owner

Naboth Bwambale



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