Conservation Agriculture


SLP was part of the 5th WCCA & 3rd FSD held in Brisbane, Australia last week. Diego Valbuena (SLP Postdoc Scientist) gave an overview on the crop residue use in different mixed crop-livestock systems across Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. This presentation reflects the current analysis and synthesis of the village-level data of the SLP Crop Residue project. The main points of this presentation were that:

  • Crop residues in mixed systems are fundamental resources for short-term objectives, especially for livestock feed.
  • Residues as mulch is not a common practice, mainly occurring in regions with relatively very high crop production or with high crop production and relatively low feed demand. In regions with high pressure on residues, an increase of agricultural production is needed.
  • There are no silver-bullets: each region has its own potential, challenges & options for more sustainable agriculture.

Finally, the presentation shows the next steps of the SLP Crop Residue project.

The presentation is available from the Slideshare website

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Kindu Mekonnen, SLP associate researcher of the East Africa team writes:

“Biomass is a crucial resource for smallholder farmers. Crop residues form an important source of biomass but there are competing demands for its use. The key trade-off is between use of crop residue for feeding of livestock and retaining residues on the field to sustain soil fertility. This issue has formed the basis of a global research project on trade-offs in residue use in smallholder systems. In East Africa, the research has focused on two sites in Ethiopia and one in Kenya.

As part of this research a village survey was conducted each site with the objective understanding diversified and competing uses of crop residues; analyze past trends of uses of crop residues; and identify production and utilization constraints of crop residues. A total of 8 villages per site were surveyed in two sites in Ethiopia (Kobo and Nekemte) and one site in western Kenya (Kakamega).

The most important findings from the research so far are (1) The use of crop residues for animal feed (stall feeding and direct grazing) surpassed the other competing uses in all the sites; (2) The practice of mulching crop fields using crop residues has declined in the last 10 years in the three sites because of competing use of the resources for various services and products; (3) Soil/land related problems, weed, insect and pests, high input/low output prices, poor distribution of rainfall/drought and lack of information/services are some of the constraints associated with low crop productivity and production of crop residues; and (4) Lack of modern crop residue processing technologies limited the efficient utilization of crop residues in the three sites.

The pressure on residue use and the decline in its use as a mulch raise serious concerns for system sustainability. Our next task will be to look at policy, institutional and technical options for reducing pressure on biomass in smallholder systems for the long term benefit of poor smallholders.

We will present this work at the International Congress: Water 2011– Integrated water resources management in tropical and subtropical dry-lands. The congress will be held from 19 to 26 September 2011 in Mekele, Ethiopia. The title of our presentation is “Competing uses, dynamics, and production and utilization constraints of crop residues in East Africa: Implications for conservation agriculture”.

This presentation is available from Slideshare

The co-location of WCCA and FSD, with input from Landcare, provides a great opportunity to explore the application of conservation agriculture practices and principles in a systems context with broader environmental awareness. The common objective is the design of more productive, economic, and sustainable farming systems to meet the challenges of expanding population, global change, and environmental degradation.

Our objective in program design has been to provide a stimulating Congress for all, regardless of participant’s background – high or low resource, scientist or farmer, and regardless of speciality –Conservation Agriculture, Farming Systems Design or Landcare. By mixing traditional oral/poster paper presentations, with workshops, “so what” sessions and the field day we have tried to balance specialist requirements with opportunities for broader discussion between people with different backgrounds and disciplinary perspectives.

Pdf document available from the WCCA website

The Technical Consultation on Integrated Crop-Livestock Systems for Development reported in this document was the culmination of a collaborative process in which FAO, IICA, EMBRAPA and IFAD and
many individuals from a number of organizations participated over several months to ensure its success. The Consultation process was initiated by the Office of the Assistant Director General of the Agriculture Department of the Food and Agriculture Organization (AG-FAO) of the United Nations. The process comprised two parts – an electronic Consultation during February and March 2010 in which some 300 individuals from a number of organizations participated, and a face-to-face Technical Consultation that was held at the EMBRAPA Maize and Sorghum Institute in Sete Lagaos, Brazil, from 23-26 May 2010. Institutions that helped to plan and organize the Consultation included: FAO, IICA/PROCITROPICOS, EMBRAPA, IFAD, FARA, ICRAF, ILRI, CGIAR-SLP.

Pdf document is available from FAO website

CA2Africa project (Conservation Agriculture in AFRICA: Analysing and Foreseeing its Impact – Comprehending its Adoption) is seeking to understand why Conservation Agriculture (CA) techniques have not been adopted widely throughout Africa. The results of the project will be used to tailor future CA efforts to local needs. The objective of the project is, therefore, to examine the agro-ecological, socio-economic and institutional conditions that determine success or failure of CA.

Read CA2Africa Newsletter

Project Website

 

This week, research teams on the SLP-supported project ‘Optimizing benefits from crop residues in smallholder crop-livestock systems in Africa and South Asia regional case studies’ are meeting in Addis Ababa to review progress and workplans. The two-year project is carrying out regional case studies in South Asia, Southern Africa, East Africa and West Africa.

The meeting was opened by Systemwide Livestock Programme (SLP) Coordinator Bruno Gerard. He introduced the project and the three principal research questions:

  • What determines the decisions about crop residue use (current crop management, agro-ecology, markets/institutions, resource endowments and dynamics)?
  • What is the impact of those decisions on livelihood and system sustainability?
  • What are the technology, institutional and policy options that would enhance livelihood and environmental benefits?

See his presentation:

He also introduced a survey of the participants to gather some information on who’s attending the meeting, their views on the project goals and approach, issues associated with crop residues, and on the SLP itself.

See the survey results online at http://tinyurl.com/slpsurvey

See the project proposal and flyer

See the meeting wiki page

See the December 2010 newsletter

Important components of the ‘Optimizing benefits from crop residues in smallholder crop-livestock systems in Africa and South Asia regional case studies’ project are village and household surveys in each of the four regions.

The village group surveys aim to capture: drivers and market access, communal feed resources, and systems evolution in term of feeding strategies and soil productivity. The thematic household surveys aim to capture: decision making for the allocation of crop residues, soil fertility management practices and feeding strategies, and retrospective questions to understand farm evolution and trajectories.

During is week’s project review and planning meeting, Diego Valbuena shared some comparative aggregated village data from the 7 different project sites – in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

See his presentation:

See the project proposal and flyer

See the meeting wiki page

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