Publication


Researchers at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) analysed potential trade-offs in maize residue use as soil mulch and livestock feed in mixed crop-livestock systems in Kenya. Based on survey data, researchers found that both the proportion and quantity of maize residue used for soil mulch and livestock feed are strongly affected by agro-ecology and livestock holding. Farmer knowledge about alternative use of crop residues and farmer perception of soil erosion risk positively affect the amount of residue farmers retain on maize plots. Results imply that crop residue use as soil mulch in conservation agriculture is challenged in mixed crop-livestock systems and particularly by smallholder farmers owning cross-bred and exotic dairy animals. In general, reducing the demand for crop residues as livestock feed through the introduction of alternative feed sources, better extension services on the use of crop residue as soil mulch and designing agro-ecology specific strategies and interventions could facilitate the adoption and expansion of CA-based practices in mixed crop-livestock systems.

The whole document is available from the AgEcon website

Advertisement

The FAO has published the paper: Crop residue based densified total mixed ration: A user-friendly approach to utilise food crop by-products. In this publication, the authors argue that “crop residues are valuable resources since they form a bulk of ruminant feed in many tropical countries. Due to lack of effective management of these resources, unfortunately they are being burnt in some countries, causing environmental pollution. The digestibility of crop residues and other low quality forages can be increased through the action of rumen microbes by strategically mixing nitrogen and minerals that are deficient in these feed resources. The increase in digestibility of crop residues and low quality forages, in turn also increases their intake. Both these phenomena enhance the efficiency of nutrient utilization from these feed resources in animal food chains.

To achieve this, the present paper discusses a technology based on the formation of a complete diet in the form of densified feed blocks or pellets from straws mixed with minerals, oil seed cakes and other agroindustrial by-products. The methods for preparation of such total mixed rations, their use and impact have been presented. It is hoped that this technology will enhance income of farmers, decrease environmental pollution and help alleviate shortage of good quality feeds in tropical countries. In addition, the feed produced in the densified form as blocks or pellets could also provide complete feed to livestock in emergency situations. Public-private partnership is expected to enhance the application and impact of this technology”.

This publication is available from the FAO website

Last month the Montpellier Panel presented the report on ‘Growth with Resilience: Opportunities in African Agriculture’. The report’s vision states:

“The challenge is to generate agricultural growth that produces enough food, ensures it is accessible to all, is inclusive of the most vulnerable and is resilient, and hence able to withstand the increasing multiple stresses and shocks that afflict the world.

To this end, we believe the priority should be supporting the creation of:

  • Resilient markets that enable farmers to increase production and generate income through innovation and taking risks, while ensuring food is available at an affordable price.
  • Resilient agriculture that creates agricultural growth out of knowledge and innovation, while simultaneously building the capacity of smallholder farmers to counter environmental degradation and climate change.
  • Resilient people who are able to generate diverse livelihoods that provide stable incomes, adequate nutrition and good health in the face of recurrent stresses and shocks.

To achieve these goals we will also need political leadership that demonstrates the necessary vision and will”.

The report is available from the Imperial College London website 

The first peer-reviewed publication of the Systemwide Livestock Programme (SLP) crop residue project is now on-line in Field Crops Research. This paper describes the options and challenges of Conservation Agriculture (CA) in mixed systems by comparing 12 study sites in 9 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Results illustrate that “despite its potential benefit for smallholder farmers across the density gradient, the introduction of CA-based mulching practices appears potentially easier in sites where biomass production is high enough to fulfil existing demands for feed and fuel. In sites with relatively high feed and fuel pressure, the eventual introduction of CA needs complementary research and development efforts to increase biomass production and/or develop alternative sources to alleviate the opportunity costs of leaving some crop residues as mulch”.

This is the result of collaborative research of different CGIAR centers and other institutions: SLP, ILRI, CIMMYT, ICRISAT, IITA, CIP and Wageningen University.

The article is available from Field Crops Research

End of last year IIED and IUCN published a book in which the authors explain that our current way of providing food and other basic needs involves industrialised systems that are linear, centralised and globalised. In the linear approach, it is assumed that at one end of a system there is an unlimited supply of energy and raw materials (which there isn’t), while at the other the environment has an infinite capacity to absorb pollution and waste (which it hasn’t). The inevitable result is resource shortages on the one hand and solid waste, climate change, biodiversity loss, and air pollution problems on the other.

An alternative to the current linear paradigm is to develop productive systems that minimise external inputs, pollution and waste (as well as risk, dependency and costs) by adopting a circular metabolism. There are two principles here, both reflecting the natural world. The first is that natural systems are based on cycles, for example water, nitrogen and carbon. Secondly, there is very little waste in natural systems. The ‘waste’ from one species is food for another, or is converted into a useful form by natural processes and cycles.

This book shows how these principles can be used to create systems and settlements that provide food, energy and water without consuming large quantities of fossil fuels and other finite resources. In the process, greenhouse gas emissions and environmental pollution are minimised whilst human well being, food and livelihood security, and democratic control are enhanced.

This book/report is available from the IIED website

Last couple of years the Livestock Policy Initiative of IGAD (IGAD-LPI) in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development of Ethiopia (MoFED), has revisited estimates of livestock’s contribution to the Ethiopian economy, through three studies, which conclude that the contribution of livestock in the Ethiopian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and to the wider economy is much higher than previous estimates.

The whole post and study reports are available from the IGAD-LPI blog

The book provides a stocktaking of where we are with livestock system classification. It presents the most up to date maps of global livestock production systems and provides revised estimates of the number of poor livestock keepers, globally, within the different production systems. It proposes alternative approaches to mapping production systems that are explicitly linked to livelihoods, and reviews the ways in which intensive production can be accounted for. Several examples are presented of how systems’ information can be of value. It also underscores the areas that need further development. The FAO and ILRI continue to work jointly on several of these.

Download the pdf of this FAO/ILRI book

SLP has been strengthening links with different academic institutions. The result of these links has been a small set of internships, BSc or MSc thesis with various universities. Research topics are diverse trying to investigate the complexity of mixed crop-livestock farming systems from different but complementary disciplines, tools and scales. Topics include: biomass production and management; chronosequences, land-use/cover and soils evolution; and remote sensing,  NDVI analyses and R scripting.

Crop residue management and farm productivity in smallholder crop-livestock system of dry land North Wollo, Ethiopia (Hailu Terefe, Wageningen University, The Netherlands).

The objective of this study is to explore and analyze crop residue and manure management practices and their influence on farm productivity. Data collection and analyses include farmer resource allocation and socio-economic by semi-structured questionnaire; biomass production, N content and digestibility of crop residues and soil nutrients; and crop-growth simulations to explore the influence of crop residue management use on farm production. The results show that nutrient contents and physical structures of arable plots are declining. Modelling results suggest that to reverse this situation, farmers should retain about 70% of crop residues in the field; but retention should ensure incorporation into the soil. To achieve this strong interventions are needed.

Pdf document available from ILRI website

Development of an open source tool to analyze Vegetation Index from Remote Sensing data (Romain Frelat, INSA, France).

During this internship, I have developed a free package in R to conduct automated analysis of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) from different optical satellite instruments (AVHRR and Spot Vegetation). Land Surface Phenology metrics can be easily computed from points or polygons generated either in GIS software (shp) or Google Earth (kml). Metrics and vegetation anomaly maps are calculated for every cropping season to support the study vegetation dynamics in agricultural landscapes.

Pdf document available from ILRI website

R package available from CRAN

Evolution de l’occupation des terres en lien avec les caractéristiques physico-chimiques du sol dans un village pres de Nekemte, Ethiopie (Matthieu Crespin, UCL, Belgium).

C’est dans ce but que ce travail, réalisé à l’échelle du village, devrait permettre de quantifier et de comparer la qualité des sols pour des occupations et des situations topographiques différentes : cultures, pâturages, forêts d’une part et vallées, pentes et sommets d’autre part. Il devrait également permettre de tracer l’évolution de la fertilité pour des sols de forêt jusqu’à des sols convertis à la culture et ce pour trois groupes d’âges différents.

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

The corporate report looks ‘back to the future’—to the thousand million farmers practicing small-scale mixed crop-and-livestock agriculture in poor countries—the kind of seemingly old-fashioned family farming systems that have become so fashionable in recent years among those wanting to reform the industrial food systems of rich countries.

The report synthesizes results of a study, ‘Drivers of change in crop-livestock systems and their potential impacts on agro-ecosystem services and human well-being to 2030,’ being published in book form in 2011. The study was a collaborative endeavour conducted by a group of scientists in centres belonging to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). The study was funded and coordinated by the CGIAR’s Systemwide Livestock Programme and led by Mario Herrero, a livestock systems analyst at the International Livestock Research Institute.

The SLP study shows that it is not big efficient farms on high potential lands but rather one billion small ‘mixed’ family farmers tending rice paddies or cultivating maize and beans while raising a few chickens and pigs, a herd of goats or a cow or two on relatively extensive rainfed lands who feed most of the world’s poor people today, and is likely to play the biggest role in global food security over the next several decades, as world population grows and peaks (at 9 billion or so) with the addition of another 3 billion people.

Read the report in pdf

Next Page »