To ease your site search, article categories are at bottom of page.

October 16, 2012

An example of blended agro-ecological and conventional farming: growing maize with 'fertilizer trees' and reduced inorganic fertilizer

Nitrogen-fixing 'fertilizer trees' have long been used by farmers in farming-difficult areas such as parts of the Sahel. Rainfall is poor, the soils are often sandy and infertile, and yet there are several varieties of acacia and other nitrogen-fixing trees which do well there.

That these trees benefit other crops growing under or between them has long been known. What is perhaps fairly new in recent years is the more scientific study of the phenomenon, and its deliberate encouragement in parts of Africa that have not previously widely used these trees as an additional soil fertility supplementation strategy.

Given all this, 'Can Integration of Legume Trees Increase Yield Stability in Rainfed Maize Cropping Systems in Southern Africa?' seems like a somewhat superflous question whose answer is already known.

Nevertheless, researchers at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) have been undertaking a 12 year study to find answers to the question. The 'hook' they used to justify the study and give the impression of finding something new was that they were studying the 'stability' of the yields of maize intercropped with Gliricidia sepium.

Amongst the findings:

* the control fields of conventional (inorganic fertilizer-using) maize monocultures had the highest

* close behind were the yields for maize intercropped with Gliricidia sepium and then supplemented with 50% of the inorganic fertilizer that would normally be used in 'conventional' maize monocultures.

This is an interesting practice long used by 'resource poor' farmers-using 'agro-ecological' farming techniques to stretch out and supplement the relatively small amounts of inorganic fertilizers they can afford to buy. This is real world small holder farming, not the pie-in-the-sky 'fully organic or death' mantras mouthed by activists in cushy donor-funded offices in town, worlds away from the realities of scratching out a living from the land..

The study's conclusion: "Maize yields remain more stable in maize–gliricidia intercropping than in fertilized maize monoculture in the long term, although average yields may be higher with full fertilization."

Hardly a ground-breaking study or findings, but still interesting.

African Agriculture

Article Categories

AGRA agribusiness agrochemicals agroforestry aid Algeria aloe vera Angola aquaculture banana barley beans beef bees Benin biodiesel biodiversity biof biofuel biosafety biotechnology Botswana Brazil Burkina Faso Burundi CAADP Cameroon capacity building cashew cassava cattle Central African Republic cereals certification CGIAR Chad China CIMMYT climate change cocoa coffee COMESA commercial farming Congo Republic conservation agriculture cotton cow pea dairy desertification development disease diversification DRCongo drought ECOWAS Egypt Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia EU EUREPGAP events/meetings expo exports fa fair trade FAO fertilizer finance fisheries floods flowers food security fruit Gabon Gambia gender issues Ghana GM crops grain green revolution groundnuts Guinea Bissau Guinea Conakry HIV/AIDS honey hoodia horticulture hydroponics ICIPE ICRAF ICRISAT IFAD IITA imports India infrastructure innovation inputs investment irrigation Ivory Coast jatropha kenaf keny Kenya khat land deals land management land reform Lesotho Liberia Libya livestock macadamia Madagascar maiz maize Malawi Mali mango marijuana markets Mauritania Mauritius mechanization millet Morocco Mozambique mushroom Namibia NEPAD Niger Nigeria organic agriculture palm oil pastoralism pea pest control pesticides pineapple plantain policy issues potato poultry processing productivity Project pyrethrum rai rain reforestation research rice rivers rubber Rwanda SADC Sao Tome and Principe seed seeds Senegal sesame Seychelles shea butter Sierra Leone sisal soil erosion soil fertility Somalia sorghum South Africa South Sudan Southern Africa spices standards subsidies Sudan sugar sugar cane sustainable farming Swaziland sweet potato Tanzania tariffs tea tef tobacco Togo tomato trade training Tunisia Uganda UNCTAD urban farming value addition value-addition vanilla vegetables water management weeds West Africa wheat World Bank WTO yam Zambia Zanzibar zero tillage Zimbabwe

  © 2007 Africa News Network design by

Back to TOP