Title: Ghanian African Dark Earths as an Alternative to Nitrogen- Based Fertilisers
Language: English
Authors: Keogh, Victoria Renee 
Qualification level: Diploma
Advisor: Watzinger, Andrea 
Issue Date: 2021
Keogh, V. R. (2021). Ghanian African Dark Earths as an Alternative to Nitrogen- Based Fertilisers [Master Thesis, Technische Universität Wien]. reposiTUm. https://doi.org/10.34726/hss.2021.91909
Number of Pages: 73
Qualification level: Diploma
Nitrogen-based fertilizers produce crops which sustains half of the global population. While they are intrinsic for human life, excess nitrogen from fertilizer use has a negative impact on air, soil, and water quality. Furthermore, these fertilizers can gradually degrade the fertility of soils, and the production of nitrogen-based fertilizer consumes and emits large quantities of fossil fuels. Fertilizer use cannot be removed but could potentially be replaced. This thesis focuses on African Dark Earths in Ghana and discusses the feasibility of using these soils as an alternative for nitrogen-based fertilizer. This question has been examined through an overview of available literature and data regarding known anthropogenic soils in both the Amazonian Basin and West Africa. Given research into West African Dark Earths is a burgeoning field, information from Amazonian Darks Earths have been used to fill any potential knowledge gaps, considering that the two soils are considered analogous. Between research completed on these two forms of anthropogenic soil, Dark Earths are discussed in terms of how they are made, why they are made, what chemical properties they contain, and what impact they have on soil fertility and agricultural yield. Ghana is taken as a case study to contextualise these soils and examine how they are made and used in a contemporary setting. This thesis then discusses whether the impact these Dark Earths have on the local communities within which they are created could be extrapolated to industrial-scale farming. Given the time, cultural and spatial constraints of Ghanaian African Dark Earth production, it was determined they cannot be feasibly scaled-up to be of any significant impact on contemporary industrial farming. However, for local communities, this method of soil production may have positive and long-lasting benefits. This thesis concludes by discussing other substitutes to nitrogen-based fertilizers, resolving that while research and development into these technologies is in its nascent phase, there is reason to be optimistic about the future of food production.
Keywords: Dark Earth; African Dark Earth; Ghana
URI: https://doi.org/10.34726/hss.2021.91909
DOI: 10.34726/hss.2021.91909
Library ID: AC16241928
Organisation: E017 - TU Wien Academy 
Publication Type: Thesis
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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