Soil is a media most frequently used by farmers to plant various types of crops. However, there are other kinds of farming that doesn’t use as their media for example hydroponic farming, aquaponics farming, etc.
In soil, we can find a lot of important nutrients to protect so they can be beneficial for plants around the area. Most of the times, dry, barren soil tend to get left as it is, dry and barren. This causes the nutrients in it to diminish due to the lack of proper care and optimized use. So, if you find land around you with dry and barren soil, it is best for you to optimize it by planting various vegetables and fruits and making your own garden.
In Africa, mineral fertilizer remains a scarce, expensive, and risky resource for most smallholder farmers. On average, farmers use less than 10 kg/ha of NPK fertilizer; and many do not apply it at all. The price of fertilizer is 3-5 times higher in Africa than in Europe due to the lack of infrastructure and production facilities, often making it unaffordable and sometimes inaccessible to farmers. Fertilizer is primarily applied to higher value and horticulture crops that, unlike maize, give farmers a greater return on their investment.
Farmers in southern Africa plant maize extensively on large areas, harvest less than 2 t/ha on average, extracting already depleted nutrients from the soil while trying to become food secure and escape from poverty―an impossible task!
In Eastern Province of Zambia, farmers are being offered a range of solutions by Africa RISING that provide a way out of this poverty trap. These technologies, options, and approaches include drought- and stress-tolerant maize germplasm, conservation agriculture (CA), improved rotation and intercropping with grain legumes, agroforestry, and green manure cover crops.
The use of CA principles (minimum soil disturbance, crop residue retention, and diversification through rotation and intercropping) hinges on the ability of farmers to retain sufficient surface crop residues to protect the soil from erosion, runoff, evaporation, and excessive temperatures. However, farmers in mixed crop-livestock systems face competing demands for these residues because they also feed them to their animals. Green manure and selected agroforestry species are therefore grown to improve the soil, generate biomass for ground cover, and provide fodder; some also produce high protein grain for food, feed, or for sale on the market.
For the past six cropping seasons, CIMMYT and its partners have tested a range of species. Crops such as velvet bean, lablab, cowpea, sunnhemp, jack bean, pigeonpea, and Gliricidia, have been identified as viable options with great potential for smallholders. In some cases, they can provide 5-50 t/ha of extra biomass for groundcover and/or fodder, leave up to 350 kg/ha of residual nitrogen in the soil and in most cases, do not need extra fertilizer to grow.
For over a decade, CIAT has tested agronomic and soil management practices in Western Kenya. From minimum tillage to integrated soil fertility management, two trials, established in 2003, are the most comprehensive picture of tropical soil health that we have in Kenya.
What these trials allow us to do is show-case changes in soil fertility and health – for example the impact of conservation measures like minimum tillage, manure application or green manure cover cropping – on soil fertility and crop yields, and what happens if these are absent.
They also enable us to show the impact of cropping systems and rotations, providing farmers with advice about which mix of organic and mineral fertilizers can restore productivity to degraded soils, for example. These are not quick-fixes: they take time to develop, hence the importance of these long-term trials.
Over the years, the trials have been visited by hundreds of farmers, regional stakeholders, and students studying agronomy and soil health practices. They also provide a platform for students to pursue their BSc, MSc or PhD studies, and to dig into some of the fascinating aspects of soil biology and biodiversity.
Jason Tanner, SARDI researcher at O’Sullivan’s Beach. Jason wants to set up a seaweed farm in South Australia. Picture: Sarah Reed Source: AAP
Ancient forms of agriculture could aid remote farming communities
British Ecological Society (BES)
Tossed up onto Scottish beaches by the tonne, seaweed is finding a place at the table thanks to the fashion for foraged food. But it could also play a vital role in returning acres of abandoned farmland in Scotland to production, according to new research presented at the British Ecological Society’s annual meeting in Edinburgh this week.
Ecologists from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and the University of Edinburgh have been studying some of the UK’s remotest farming communities — the talamh dubh or ‘black land’ crofts on the east coast of North Uist.
Parallel ridges on hill sides here are remnants of old agricultural systems that the ecologists believe could be used to increase productivity on land now largely unused.
Crofting counties of the North West Highlands and Islands of Scotland make up 16% of land in the UK. Today, 375,000 people and five million sheep live there, yet the area imports 95% of its food. Between the 14th and 18th centuries, however, the area was home to over half a million people and was 90% self-sufficient in food.
To find out how best to return some of this land to production, the researchers combined modern science with traditional detective work, collecting community memories and Gaelic words, and poring over historical documents and old photographs.
According to lead author Dr Barbra Harvie of SRUC: “Most of this agricultural land has lain abandoned for more than 60 years and local knowledge of how to manage it is rapidly disappearing. By interviewing crofters, we are gleaning vital knowledge before it is lost forever.”
The studies also involve some hard graft, she says: “After researching historical crop rotations we have replicated these in the field by hand-digging ridges and hauling seaweed from the coast.”
“It’s a bit of a scientific dream, but we have a lot of evidence that supports this dream.” Jean-Paul Moatti, French Research Institute for Development
4 Pour 1000 initiative aims to lock away carbon through better farming
It encourages simple steps such as tree planting and adding manure
Project hopes to do enough to offset all human emissions
France is leading a worldwide push to increase the amount of carbon locked in soils through better farming practices.
Supporters of an initiative launched at the COP 21 summit say this would limit global warming by removing carbon from the atmosphere, while also increasing the range and amount of food farmers produce by improving soil fertility. This would particularly benefit developing countries, according to representatives of the 4 Pour 1000 initiative.
“It’s a bit of a scientific dream, but we have a lot of evidence that supports this dream,” Jean-Paul Moatti, the chief executive officer of the French Research Institute for Development, one of the organisations behind the plan, said yesterday on the sidelines of the talks in Paris, France.
Increasing carbon stocks in the top 40 centimetres of soil by four parts per 1,000 (0.4 per cent) each year would compensate for carbon emissions from human activity, the project description says, provided deforestation is halted.
The Chemistry and Soil Research Institute in Zimbabwe is distributing sachets that contain inoculated Rhizobia bacteria — a technique for adding bacteria to a carrier medium to improve biological nitrogen fixation — to farmers for increased yields and affordable organic fertilisers.
Emmanuel Chikwari, head of the institute, which is under the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, says this process is useful for meeting the nitrogen requirements of legume plants.
“This is a promising technology in the production of legume crops,” says Chikwari. “The inoculants can be added to the seed before planting.”
Nitrogen, he explains, is essential for photosynthesis, a process whereby plants make their own food in the presence of water, sunshine and carbon dioxide for vigorous growth and increased yields.
This is the last video in my rain barrel system series. The entire system has now been constructed and consists of 12-55 gallon drums to hold 660 gallons of rain water. Four additional containers are below the barrels which will brew compost tea – and then it is pumped back into the rain water barrels to make a 1 part compost tea – to 3 parts water mixture to be delivered to the garden.
IN ADDITION TO MY FIRST VIDEO, I DID ONE MORE, THIS WILL COLLECT 825 GALLONS OF WATER THAT I WILL USE TO WATER MY TREES AND OTHER PLANTS, THAT WAY I DON’T TOUCH ANY WATER FROM THE CITY
” FOR PLANTS ONLY ”