New Changes and Emerging Disturbances to Agriculture

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New Changes and Emerging Disturbances For along time smallholder agricultural systems has depended on inorganic fertilizers to supply the nitrogen required for crop growth as well as maintaining or slowing the rate of carbon loss. However, in other cases especially in Nitrogen limited environment of cereal based cropping systems (such as Mzimba district), fertilizer additions can actually enhance soil carbon loss (Snapp and Pound, 2008). The continued use of inorganic fertilizers has reduced soil carbon in the district and hence reduced the water holding capacity of the soil. Sustainable use of fertilizers is accompanied by the availability of residues in the soil however an emerging challenge is that recently there has been a competing demand for residues between crops and livestock. The clearing of land in search for settlement land and opening of new farming land has led to reduced forest areas and/or grasslands where livestock used to graze and consequently, they depend solely on crop residues. This competition reduces the availability of residues to replenish soil organic matter and in the process the resilience of the agricultural systems. The outcome of the loss of resilience if increased reduced soil fertility and eventually low productivity. Another emerging change and irregular disturbance to the resilience of the agro ecosystem happening in the district is the issue of burning farming land in quest for reducing labour requirements when preparing the land for
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