Centres of Research & Learning Agricultural Research Centres
Agricultural Research Centre, Kpong
The Agricultural Research Centre at Kpong is located in the Coastal Savanna zone, about 80 km east of Accra, on the Accra-Akosombo road, and 3 km from the main trunk road. It lies on the shorelines of the head-pond of the Kpong hydroelectric dam, Ghana's second power generating station on the Volta River. The Agricultural Research Centre at Kpong was established in 1954 by the Ministry of Agriculture, with the help of the FAO, to conduct investigations into mechanized irrigated agriculture on the black clay soils (Vertisols) of the Accra Plains. The Administration of the Station was transferred from the Ministry of Agriculture to the University of Ghana in 1957. The Centre covers an area of 1024 hectares, made up of:
• Developed land for cropping -150 hectares
• Rainwater harvesting catchment and farm land - 140 hectares
• Paddocks for cattle - 60 hectares
• Afforested area - 20 hectares
• Residential area - 130 hectares and undeveloped land of 524 hectares.
To achieve the critical mass of scientific information required for the development and efficient management of the Vertisols through teaching and research for the purpose of exploiting their full agricultural potentials for crops, livestock and fish production.
a) Main Functions
• Investigate the mechanization requirements of the Vertisols (Heavy black clays).
• Conduct studies on crop suitability of the Vertisols.
• Investigate crop requirements and suitable irrigation systems for the Vertisols.
• Provide research facilities for the College of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences.
• Develop beef cattle breed suitable for the Accra plains.
b) Subsidiary Functions
• Provide practical training grounds for students, farmers and other stakeholders.
• Generate appropriate technologies, in line with National goals.
• Assist the transfer of technologies to areas within the Accra Plains.
Major Research Areas
The Centre conducts scientific research on problems relating to soil productivity, degradation and maintenance of soil quality to ensure sustainable agricultural production on the Accra Plains.
(b) Mechanization and Irrigation
Investigation into the mechanized irrigated agriculture on the Accra Plains is on-going, including;
i) Research into the effective use and development of water resources for agricultural production and
ii) Research into the principles, mechanics, construction, performance and design methods of farm machinery and farm products processing.
The principal crops studied at the Centre are:
Rice, maize, sugarcane, beans (i.e. cowpeas, soyabeans, green gram, pigeon pea and winged beans) cotton and vegetables (i.e. tomato, okro, pepper, egg plant, melon and okro)
Mango, papaya, citrus and cashew
iii) Crop Protection
• Long term studies aimed at controlling Cercospora spp. on several food crops (i.e. okro, cowpea and plantain) began in 1985 and is on-going
• Management studies to control the obnoxious weeds, Cyperus rotundus and Imperata cylindrica on the Vertisols, for upland crops, and Ischaemun rugosum in irrigated rice.
a) Beef Cattle Improvement Programme (1966 - 2000)
Cattle breeding programme has been on-going in collaboration with other departments of the College of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences, with the following objectives:
• To produce beef cattle breed that combines the best characteristics of both temperate (meat quality, rate of growth, high birth weight) and tropical beef cattle (tolerance to heat and resistance to trypanosomiosis) through Artificial Insemination (AI).
• To investigate the responses of breed to the feed lot conditions using agro-by-products and pastures.
• To compare the meat characteristics of the local breed to that of the crosses fed mainly on natural pastures and feed-lot conditions.
• The effect of enhanced environmental conditions and husbandry practices on the growth and development of beef cattle in the Accra Plains.
The Artificial Insemination programme came to a stand still in 1987 as a result of unavailability of semen. The breeds of cattle used in the breeding programme included the N’dama (West African), Red Poll and Santa Gertrudes (Exotic- American).
Current Research Activities
• Development of improved fallow rotation farming system using leguminous plants
• Development of technologies for using leguminous crops for sustainable crop production
• Use of sesbania, azolla and other legumes e.g. mimosa and cowpea as source of nitrogen in rice cultivation
• Integrated Rice-Fish Culture (production of rice and fish simultaneously on the same paddy field).
• Varietal trial of selected aromatic rice cultivated in Ghana, to select suitable cultivars for commercial production
• Adaptation trials of NERICA rice on the Vertisols.
• Selection of suitable cultivars of Tomato for dry season cultivation on the Vertisols (An evaluation of resistance/tolerance to heat stress, pests and disease incidence).
• Establishment of orchards of cultivars of mangoes and citrus on the Vertisols.
• Evaluation of foliar/liquid fertilizers as a component of an integrated management of pests and diseases of vegetables.
• Evaluation of herbicides for weed management in vegetables - an integrated approach
• Optimal design and management of small-scale irrigation schemes with rainwater harvesting.
• Development and verification of runoff models for sudden floods.
• The effects of polymeric absorbents (natural and synthetic soil conditioners) on the productivity of Ghanaian soils.
• Climate variability and cultural practices on crop yields on the Vertisols.
• Changes in stability and water shedding potential of developed landforms on Vertisols.
• Varietal selection and multiplication of sugarcane cultivars on the Vertisols.
• Development of multipurpose agro-forest, with cowpeas cultivated between rows.
The Centre, in the past and currently, has carried out national and international collaborative studies. These include the following:
• Valley Bottom Rice Studies under the Agricultural Sector Rehabilitation Program (ASRP) supported by the World Bank
• South Western Ghana Rice Development Programme
• Joint studies with the Forest Products Research Institute (CSIR) with the Aforestation of the Savanna Belt using Cassia species, and others as Teak, Eucalyptus and Mahogany
• Integrated Rice-Fish Culture - Unilever Foundation for Education
• Varietal trial of selected Aromatic Rice Cultivated in Ghana - Ghana Rice Inter-Professional Body (GRIB)
• Use of sesbania, azolla and other legumes e.g. mimosa and cowpea as source of nitrogen in rice cultivation - Agricultural Sub-Sector Improvement Project (AGSSIP)
b) International Programmes
• International Board for Soil Research and Management (IBSRAM) - for land forms development and management of the Vertisols.
• Department for International Development (DFID) UK - for control of Cyperus rotundus in maize cultivated on various land forms, on the Vertisols.
• International soyabean (INTSOY) programme (1970-1975) - for the development of soyabean cultivation in the Tropics. This is coordinated by the University of Illinois
• Rainwater harvesting project and Flood modelling project - collaborative programmes with Agricultural Engineering Department, Kyoto University, Japan