Fruitful curly red chili trees on fine soil. Photo by: http://www.hallogarden.com


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.

Green manure cover crops and agroforestry



COMACO Gliricidia/maize intercropping field. Photo credit: Christian Thierfelder/CIMMYT.

Addressing smallholder farmers’ needs with green manure cover crops and agroforestry in Zambia


Read the full story: Africa Rising

The impact of soil management


Photo credit: CIAT

Seeing is believing: the impact of soil management


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.

Read the full story: CIAT

A vital role for seaweed in fertilizing acres of abandoned farmland

Photo credit: Google

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)

Huge piles are accumulating on beaches all over the Caribbean. -
Huge piles are accumulating on beaches all over the Caribbean. –

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.”

Read the full article: Science Daily

Introducing new farming practices for carbon sink

Photo credit: SciDevNet –

Copyright: Dieter Telemans/Panos


Soil project seeks to soak up excess carbon

by Tania Rabesandratana

“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

Speed read

  • 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.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

Inoculated Rhizobia bacteria to increase legume yields

Photo credit: SciDevNet

Copyright: Sven Torfinn/Panos


Nitrogen-fixing tech aiding legume yields in Zimbabwe

Speed read

  • Smallholders are unable to afford fertilisers to increase crop yields
  • In Zimbabwe, use of low-cost fertiliser tech is increasing legume yields
  • At least 60,000 smallholders are using the technology

A low-cost nitrogen fixing technology for legume crops is being given to small-scale farmers in Zimbabwe to improve national food and nutrition security.

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.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

Rain water harvesting in barrels, compost tea, drip irrigation



660 Gallon Rain Barrel & Compost Tea System

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.





rain water catchment

Adviser tool for irrigation and fertilizer

Photo credit: SciDevNet

Copyright: Pascal Deloche/Godong/Panos

New tool advises users on irrigation, fertiliser needs

“It calculates water demands at different periods of the crop season.” – Peter Okoth

by Dorcas Odhiambo

Speed read

  • Africa’s agriculture growth suffers from lack of data on water needs of crops
  • A new tool developed in Kenya aims to help farmers compute requirements of crops
  • But an expert says it fails to give location-specific climate change information

Farmers in Africa are set to benefit from an online tool offering advice on services such as irrigation and fertiliser use.

The internet portal known as Smart Irrigator computes crops’ daily water requirements.

According to Peter Okoth, Kenya-based consultant in research and agronomy and one of the brains behind it, the technology which was launched on 8 September aims to increase efficiency of irrigation systems.

“It calculates water demands at different periods of the crop season,” Okoth tells SciDev.Net, noting that “the tool considers factors such as rooting depth and the maximum allowable loss of water.”
Okoth, says that users and farmers can register their names, location, soil texture, date of planting in the portal while also selecting crop of choice for irrigation water advice. “The information is sent to the subscribed farmers’ phone in text form [and] the farmer pays a monthly fee of US$5-10 to obtain the data and information.”

Read the full article: SciDevNet

Earthworm technology for the next green revolution

Photo credit: SciDevNet

Copyright: Petterik Wiggers/Panos

Earthworms helping smallholders increase crop yields

“The next green revolution is going to come from earthworm technology.” – Ephraim Whingiri, Zim Earthworm Farms 

Speed read

  • Zimbabwe is suffering from decreased production of cereals, especially maize
  • A project turns to earthworms to help smallholders increase crop yields
  • An expert says earthworms help turn wastes into organic fertilisers

A project in Zimbabwe is promoting the use of earthworms to enable the country’s small-scale farmers improve soil fertility and boost crop yields.

The earthworms eat organic wastes, and their faeces that are more potent than ordinary compost are used to improve soil fertility, according to Ephraim Whingiri, the chief executive officer of Zim Earthworm Farms (ZEF).

ZEF held a campaign last month (26 August) in the capital Harare, and so far has trained 100 farmers to use earthworm technology.
Experts say that increased soil degradation and soil infertility have led to the massive drop in food production in the country, thus requiring interventions to boostagriculture.

“Soil conservation technologies enhance productivity and help farmers realise increased production,” says Whingiri.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

Local food prices in Sub-Saharan Africa


New Journal Publication – Fertilizer subsidies, political influence and local food prices in sub-Saharan Africa: Evidence from Nigeria

by imasias


The last decade has seen a resurgence in the use of fertilizer subsidies in sub-Saharan Africa. However, there is limited empirical evidence on the effects of fertilizer subsidy programs on local food prices. Using an instrumental variables approach, we explore the effect of a fertilizer subsidy program on the seasonal growth rates of grain prices in Nigeria.

Our results suggest that the fertilizer subsidy program had very small effects on the growth rates of grain prices between the post-planting and post-harvesting seasons. We also find that political influence played a role in the distribution of subsidized fertilizer. We discuss how the weak effects on the price growth rates may be caused by low market orientation, output market structures, greater focus on farmers’ incomes, low marginal productivity of fertilizer, and politically influenced targeting.

See the text: NSSP

“Regenerative” agriculture

Photo credit: Treehugger

Video screen capture Permaculture Magazine

Imagine farming that actually heals the earth

by Sami Grover

One of the most inspiring recent developments in the discussion about farming has been the shift from talking about “sustainable” agriculture to advocating for “regenerative” agriculture. Instead of seeking to be less bad, say a growing number of farmers and farming experts, the farming industry should be positioning itself to be good—to heal the harm being done to our planet.

From slowing, and maybe even reversing global climate change through soil carbon sequestration to creating perennial food crops that mimic natural prairies and help protect our waterways, there are many methods that could be deployed to both reduce farming’s negative impact and simultaneously start rebuilding natural ecosystem services that have previously been degraded.

In the UK, former natural history filmmaker Rebecca Hosking has been at the forefront of this conversation, returning to her parents’ family farm and rethinking its operations as a resilient, sustainable and regenerative “farm for the future.” That farm—which has become named The Village Farm—faces some fairly significant challenges in terms of soil conditions and topography, not least because previous management practices have degraded what was there. This from the Village Farm website explains more:

Read the full article: Treehugger

Best practices in sustainability in food security work

Photo credit: FAO

Supporting development of efficient livestock production systems in Senegal

Two initiatives in Niger and Senegal win awards for best practices in sustainable development

Two FAO projects have earned awards in an EXPO 2015 competition aimed at spotlighting best practices in sustainability in international food security work.

The “Best Sustainable Development Practices” competition was organized by the Feeding Knowledge platform, an EXPO 2015 initiative that is promoting greater cooperation in research and innovation related to food security, with a focus on policies, technologies, know-how and services and products. EXPO’s theme this year is “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”.

First prize in the category “Quantitative and Qualitative Enhancement of Crop Products” was awarded today in a ceremony at Expo to the project Intensification of agriculture by strengthening cooperative agro-input shops” (IARBIC), a collaboration between FAO, the Ministry of Agriculture of Niger, a dozen Producers Federations of Niger and a host of other development partners.

The project seeks to raise agricultural production in Niger by improving access to quality fertilizers. The capacities of a huge network of producers, cooperatives and farmers’ organizations are enhanced by training them in how to organize joint fertilizer orders, to manage the agro-input shops, including book-keeping and business management, as well as in new agricultural techniques required to increase productivity, such as the rational and appropriate use of quality fertilizers.

Over the last five years, around 260 agro-inputs shops have been established and 100 warehouses for storing harvest produce have been built, serving the needs of over 100,000 smallholder farmers. In addition to fertilizers, the input shops also sell seeds and offer phytosanitary and other services, as well as targeting women with sales of smaller quantities of fertilizer.

The project has also supported innovative financing schemes, such as the inventory credit system known as ‘warrantage‘. Furthermore, a 653,000 Euro guarantee fund was established for eight farmer federations who were thereby able to access credit for agro-business activities and for the creation of the Union of Producer Federations of Niger (GATANCI), supported by IARBIC.

Second prize for work in small rural communities

Second prize in the category “Sustainable development of small rural communities in marginal areas” went to another FAO project, Eradication of the tsetse fly Glossina palpalis gambiensis from the Niayes in Senegal.

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