How do you plant a landscape under drought conditions?

Photo credit: New World Associates

Landscapes in Drought

by Bruce Eitzen NWA

Posted by New World on Thursday, February 23, 2017 Under: Drought
Cape Town and the SW Cape has been experiencing a severe drought in the last few years. Now, in late February 2017, the city’s reservoirs have only 4 months water supply left! And the hot, dry and windy weather is continuing, especially down in the Peninsula where gardening in this extreme weather with water rationing is highly challenging.

Nevertheless, life goes on and so does development. A current project under construction in Bellville, a landscape we are collaborating on with Earthworks Landscape Architects, at the Karl Bremer Hospital, where two office blocks have been developed and are completing soon, has suffered the city-wide ban on irrigation of landscapes by hosepipes and irrigation systems. Furthermore, more severe restrictions on any type of watering are likely.

So how do you plant a landscape under these conditions? Quite simply, as far as possible, don’t! At least, not until the hot dry summer and early autumn are over. Conditions in the Peninsula have been so windy that once the 30-40km/h “strong breezes” (according to weather app YR), in reality near gale force, have blown for days and nights, any soil preparations have been blown flat and scoured of their top inch of compost and soil! It is not a good idea to plant, especially if you can’t water!

However, as a sustainable industry by its very nature, landscape architecture needs to be practising sound planting design, which we already are, namely, through the specification of locally indigenous, that is, endemic planting, as well as a good soil preparation specification that includes heavy composting and mulching.

Read the full article: New World Associates

A project designed using local plants and finding just how well it survived the severe drought

 

Photo credit: New World Associates, Landscape Architects

Surviving the Drought

Posted by New World on Monday, April 3, 2017 Under: Drought
It’s great to visit a project designed using local plants and finding just how well it survived the severe drought we’ve been experiencing in Cape Town over the last few years!

Bloemhof Electricity Headquarters was constructed in winter 2013 and had established over 3 summer seasons before the water was turned off in November 2016 with the onset of Stage 3B water rationing, no irrigation! This is the ultimate test of a planting scheme’s success.

We visited site in late March 2017 after 5 months of a very hot, dry and windy summer wondering what we would find. Thankfully, it was a success! Over 90% of the planting survived, probably over 95% in ground, but only about 50% of roof planters survived sadly. That was the end of over 3 years of good growth and full development of the shrubs.

The secret to the success can be put down to good soil preparations, careful plant choice, and the advantage of 3 years establishment albeit that the last two summers were in drought. Irrigation was always limited on the project to hand watering on an as-needed basis, so the plants were slowly weaned off wet nursery conditions.

It was interesting to see that the soil conditions were patchy and a couple dry places with higher plant losses or droughting occurred. It remains to be seen if these plants will recover from dropping their leaves, a typical drought response, or if the plants have succumbed. Wild Rosemary seemed to suffer the most in one area drier than elsewhere.

On the other hand, there were beds in the car parks naturally watered from permeable paving; the restios planted there, which are typically quite drought sensitive and died elsewhere, were thriving, lush and green, from all the water that penetrated the paving and was directed under their roots.

Lessons learnt: good soil preparations, and we used a soil wetter called Terracottem to boost soil water retention, composting, mulching, and good plant research and selection, came together to produce a scheme that has substantially survived the drought, saving on replanting costs and reducing precious potable water consumption.

Read: http://new-world-associates.com/blog/surviving-the-drought

A new heat-tolerant variety of chickpea, resistant to Botrytis grey mold (BGM) and also high-yielding in Bangladesh

Photo credit: ICRISAT

A Field Day organized at an ICCV 92944 field in Bangladesh. Photo: PRC, Ishurdi, Bangladesh

NEW VARIETY OF CHICKPEA HELPS BANGLADESHI FARMERS FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE

A new variety of chickpea, which is heat-tolerant, resistant to Botrytis grey mold (BGM) and also high-yielding, was released as BARI Chola-10 in Bangladesh. Based on ICRISAT variety ICCV 92944, this variety is expected to provide some relief to farmers in Bangladesh, which is often cited as one of the countries most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change.

The cropping system in Bangladesh is mainly rice based and chickpea is grown after the rice harvest. About 800,000 ha land of the high Barind tract in northwestern Bangladesh, which remain fallow after rice cultivation, can potentially be brought under chickpea cultivation. However, chickpea sowing is often delayed (up to December) due to late harvest of rice. As a result, the chickpea crop is exposed to heat stress during its reproductive phase. Heat stress, identified as one of the major constraints to chickpea production in Bangladesh, adversely affects pollen viability, pod set and grain yield.

ICRISAT has been working closely with the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), for developing improved lines of chickpea adapted to local conditions, and has supplied over 9,000 breeding lines to Bangladesh. So far, six varieties of improved chickpea have been released from the breeding materials supplied by ICRISAT. These are Nabin (ICCL 81248), BARI Chola-2 (ICCV 10), BARI Chola-3 (ICCL 83105), BARI Chola-4 (ICCL 85222), BARI Chola-6 (ICCL 83149), BARI Chola-8 (ICCV 88003) and BARI Chola-9 (ICCV 95318).

Chickpea is one of the most important pulse crops in Bangladesh based on consumption. The domestic demand for chickpea exceeds the local supply and the deficit is met through imports. Bangladesh imported 205,000 tons of chickpea worth USD 127 million in 2013. In Bangladesh, chickpea is consumed in various forms after primary processing, i.e., dehulling, splitting, grinding, parching and roasting. Desi chickpea is consumed in different forms—fresh green seed, dried whole seed, roasted and puffed, roasted and split (phutana dhal), splits (dhal) and flour (besan). Splits and flour are the most common forms of consumption (70-75%) followed by whole seed (15-20%). Desi chickpea is more preferred by Bangladeshi consumers than the kabuli type.

Read the full story: ICRISAT

Replacing maize with drought-tolerant crops

 

Photo credit: ICRISAT

Farmer Martin Lumala (center) explaining a point to the press. Photo: Daniel Ajaku, ICRISAT

DROUGHT-TOLERANT CROPS TO THE RESCUE IN KENYA

Replacing maize with drought-tolerant crops such as sorghum, millets, pigeonpea, cowpea and green gram is helping farmers overcome the failure of rains and its damaging impact on maize in Busia county in western Kenya.

Lately maize had taken over traditional crops like sorghum and millets in Busia county. With the failure of rains in the March-July and August-December rainy seasons in 2016, farmers who planted maize have been most affected.

To promote drought-tolerant crops like millets and sorghum, farmers have been trained on good agricultural practices, post-harvest handling and value addition, and have been provided with quality seed of improved varieties. Capacity building of farmers and agricultural extension workers to promote production and utilization of sorghum, finger millet and groundnuts has resulted in 62.7 tons of quality seed of the three crops being accessed by farmers in three counties in western Kenya during the 2016/17 short rainy season.

This was possible due to a collaboration between the Busia county government, the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and ICRISAT. This work has been going on over the past three seasons in eight counties in Kenya.

Read the full article: ICRISAT

A programme to combat land degradation to help create jobs and boost food security.

 

Photo credit: SciDevNet

Copyright: Panos

UN launches campaign to tackle land degradation

http://www.scidev.net/sub-saharan-africa/conservation/news/un-launches-campaign-tackle-land-degradation.html

by Stephanie Achieng’

Speed read

  • Land degradation costs Africa about US$ 65 billion annually
  • The UNCCD has launched a campaign to fight land degradation and create jobs
  • An expert calls for African governments to reward those who conserve land

This year’s UN World Day to Combat Desertification will be celebrated on 17 June and the UN has launched a programme to combat land degradation to help create jobs and boost food security.

Africa has some of the most degraded lands in the world, and is only second to Asia in land degradation globally, experts say.

“Our land. Our home. Our Future,” is the slogan of this year’s UN World Day to Combat Desertification, according to a statement from the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) released last month (9 February).

Monique Barbut, UN top advisor on combatting desertification and drought, says land is a timeless tool for creating wealth, but explains that there is no silver bullet to fixing land degradation everywhere.

“Investment in restoration of degraded lands is critical in enhancing household food and income security.”

Oliver Wasonga, University of Nairobi

“The solution depends a lot on a diagnosis of the local soil and climatic conditions, which can vary a lot even within short distances,” Barbut tells SciDev.Net.

Barbut notes in the statement: “This year, let us engage in a campaign to re-invest in rural lands and unleash their massive job-creating potential, from Burkina Faso, which will host the global observance of the World Day to Combat Desertification, Chile and China, to Italy, Mexico, St Lucia and Ukraine.”

Read the full article: SciDevNet

Cattle grazing on pastures that were on an ecological knife edge and desertification.

 

Photo credit: International Business Times

The Sahara desert was lush and green 10,000 years ago. Within a few thousand years it became barren. Humans are now thought to have pushed it over the edge – Wonker / Flickr

Did humans turn the Sahara from a lush, green landscape into a desert?

Cattle grazing on pastures that were on an ecological knife edge could have pushed the Sahara onto the path of desertification.

martha-henriques

The Sahara used to be a fertile landscape with lush vegetation thousands of years ago, but something killed that landscape, leaving only desert behind. Neolithic humans may have played a role in pushing it over the edge of an ecological tipping point, an archaeological study finds.

The Sahara used to be a lush, green environment as little as 6,000 years ago, when humans grazed cattle on green pastures. Theories for what turned the Sahara into a desert in a period of just a few thousand years include shifting circulation in the tropical atmosphereand changes in the Earth’s tilt.

Archaeological evidence now suggests that Neolithic humans who grazed cattle on the Saharan pastures played a role as well. These pastoral communities pushed the delicate ecosystem past a tipping point that led to widespread desertification, according to a paper published in the journal Frontiers in Earth Science.

Study author David Wright of Seoul National University, South Korea, mapped the spread of scrub vegetation, which is a precursor to full desertification, and evidence of Neolithic cattle grazing. As more and more vegetation was removed from the land, the albedo – or amount of light reflected from the ground – increased, changing the atmospheric conditions over the Sahara. This in turn made monsoon rains less frequent.

About 8,000 years ago, cattle-grazing communities originated near the River Nile and began gradually to spread to the west of the continent. Rather than the spread of the communities happening in response to desertification and loss of vegetation, the humans could have been actively driving the desertification, Wright suggests.

Read the full story: International Business Times

Innovative technologies for young agricultural entrepreneurs

 

Photo credit: SciDevNet

Turning the youth into agricultural entrepreneurs

Equipping the youth with innovative technologies could expand their business opportunities in agricultural value chain and turn many into entrepreneurs in Southern Africa.

This was one of the major impressions I got from Canadian Cultivate Africa’s Future Fund (CultiAF) entrepreneurship and innovation training last month (21-24 February) in Lilongwe, Malawi, where I also learnt that youth in agriculture face limited access to natural and financial resources, inadequate opportunities for upward mobility skills and experience to run successful business.

This necessitated call of interest from youths on fish value chain to generate and test novel, creative and bold models that increase the participation of youth in fish industry in Malawi and Zambia and maize post-harvest agribusiness sector in Zimbabwe.

YAAD is of the view that the presence of the food science department within the campus will help them raise the bar in terms of standards, nutrient identification but also quality before marketing.

Priscilla Nsandu, YAAD

I gathered from the meeting that the review process was initially developed around five core evaluation criterion: product understanding, strategies for capturing the market, business vision, management and financial discipline.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

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