Photo credit: Agricultures Network
Crusted soils yield sorghum again after branches of camel’s foot are cut from the surrounding scrub and added as mulch. Photos: Georges Félix
From slash and burn to ‘slash and mulch’
Catching and holding the rain
Food production in Yilou, semi-arid Burkina Faso and in much of dryland Africa, is supported by only three to four months of rainfall each year. The main crops around Yilou are sorghum, cowpea, sesame, okra and other vegetables, hibiscus, and maize around the homesteads. But producing enough food to sustain family nutrition year round is an enormous challenge. Typically, farmers quickly prepare their land at the start of the rains in early June, plant by mid-June, and hope that the rains are abundant and evenly spread throughout the season.
As rainfall is short and intense, with only an average of 500-600 mm each year, minimising runoff and increasing infiltration are crucial. Also, the more soil is covered, more rain infiltrates and less will evaporate. And reducing runoff with physical barriers such as stone bunds and mulch has the added benefit of reducing soil erosion and sediment loss, an important step in rehabilitating degraded lands.
Read the full article: Agricultures Network
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