Abstract In order to measure dust's nutrient input on farmland in different agro-ecological zones, Harmattan dust was sampled by mats with plastic straw in Ghana between 2002–2006. The inputs of total nutrients by Harmattan dust in Ghana per Harmattan period were about 1–2 kg Ca ha−1, 0.5–2 kg K ha−1, 0.5–1.5 kg Mg ha−1 and less than 0.5 kg P ha−1. Compared with the annual input of nutrients by precipitation, the dust accounted for 10% or less of Ca, Mg and K but approximately 20%–40% of P. The input of nutrients by dust was only valid for areas with vegetation, because in areas with none or sparse vegetation, loss of soil due to wind erosion and hereby loss of nutrients might be significant. In farmland areas with bare and vegetated fields there seemed to be an internal redistribution of the nutrients and not a net gain of nutrients from outside the area (long-range transported dust). The input of P by dust might be of some importance in the traditional shifting cultivation systems, while the inputs of other three nutrients of Ca, Mg and K were so low that they must be considered insignificant. In the intensive agriculture systems with huge inputs of manures and fertilizers the nutrient input by dust is insignificant and could be neglected.
- traditional agricultural system