Boron and zinc deficiency in Nepalese soils: Small-scale variations and the influence of farming system dependent factors. A case study from Sedi Bagar, Kaski District, Nepal.
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There is no doubt that agriculture is the most important contributor to the global production of food. This is undeniably also the case for Nepal. In 2002, 93% of the Nepalese workforce was deployed in agriculture (World Bank 2005). It therefore goes without saying that this line of work is vital to most Nepalese families and the national economy as a whole. Authors such as Sillanpää (1982; 1990) and Carson (1992) suggest that serve nutrient deficiencies are reducing crops on a widespread basis in Nepal, though. Of the 92 naturally occurring chemical elements, 18 have been proven to be essential elements which plants can not grow and complete their life cycle without (Brady 2004). Among the latter are zinc and boron. These two micronutrients are subject to the main investigations of this thesis and are chosen due to the findings of Mikko Sillanpää (1982; 1990), claiming that the most extensive soil deficiencies in Nepal are those of boron and zinc. This thesis is not an attempt to falsify or verify Sillanpää`s theories, but rather an effort to investigate links between zinc and boron deficiencies and how the farming system is operated in a small village of semi-subsistence agriculture. Researchers state that there are soil deficiencies in the world, but not all of them have theories on why this is the case. To be able to cope with problems, one must have knowledge of the underlying causes. To obtain such knowledge, a quantitative farming system approach is applied along with a spatial approach. Studying farming system is done to obtain data for further statistical analyses. These data are used to show connections between farming practices and micronutrient levels. The spatial approach is used to add the dimension of space to the analysis, as this is not included in a normal statistical examination. It is important to remember that this is a case study and therefore not an attempt to make generalizations. It is, however, an attempt to find empiric relationships and in that way contribute to the knowledgebase of farming systems and micronutrient deficiencies in Nepal.