Farmer participatory assessment of soil health from Conservation Agriculture adoption in three regions of East Africa View Full Text


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Article Info

DATE

2022-09-15

AUTHORS

Martin H. Entz, April Stainsby, Marla Riekman, Theresa Rempel Mulaire, John Kimathi Kirima, Frew Beriso, Deogratias Ngotio, Michael Salomons, Jess Nicksy, Mueni Mutinda, Katherine Stanley

ABSTRACT

The challenges of soil degradation and low crop yield are being addressed in East Africa using a number of soil health-promoting farming systems including Conservation Agriculture (CA). CA is based on principles of minimal soil disturbance, continuous soil cover, and crop diversity, though implementation on farms may vary due to local circumstances. This study evaluated the effect of CA, as practiced by farmers, and compared farmer descriptions of soil health with scientific measures. CA and non-CA fields were compared in regions of Ethiopia (23 farms), Kenya (23 farms), and Tanzania (13 farms) with most fields repeatedly sampled for 2 to 3 years. CA and non-CA fields were located within meters, on soils with the same texture, growing similar crops. CA systems used precision planting, mostly with basins. Soil parameters were assessed using a participatory approach where farmers and field technicians collected data. CA practices improved qualitative soil characteristics as sensed by farmers (e.g., hoe-ability, crusting, smell, water infiltration), and this positive response was consistent across most fields. For qualitative data, the logarithm of the odds ratio estimates method was used to test the probability that CA would provide soil improvement. Fields under the CA treatment had a higher probability of rating better than non-CA fields. Quantitative measurements of pH and microbial respiration validated farmer assessments. CA-managed soils were weakly associated with darker colour, indicating higher soil organic matter. Sandy soils did not appear to improve with CA as dramatically as clay and loam soils, suggesting different CA strategies may be required. We discuss both benefits and drawbacks of this type of participatory, on-farm research. We conclude that farmer participation as citizen scientists will advance soil restoration in East Africa and increase the potential for farmer-to-farmer knowledge exchange of soil-improving practices. More... »

PAGES

97

References to SciGraph publications

  • 2017-04-07. How climate-smart is conservation agriculture (CA)? – its potential to deliver on adaptation, mitigation and productivity on smallholder farms in southern Africa in FOOD SECURITY
  • 2015-09-07. Formation of soil organic matter via biochemical and physical pathways of litter mass loss in NATURE GEOSCIENCE
  • 2011-05-15. Achieving food and nutritional security through agroforestry: a case of Faidherbia albida in sub-Saharan Africa in FOREST SCIENCE AND PRACTICE
  • 2012-01-11. Strategies for Maintenance and Improvement of Soil Productivity Under Continuous Maize and Beans Cropping System in the Sub-humid Highlands of Kenya: Case Study of the Long-Term Trial at Kabete in LESSONS LEARNED FROM LONG-TERM SOIL FERTILITY MANAGEMENT EXPERIMENTS IN AFRICA
  • 2018-07-04. Vulnerability to climate change among maize-dependent smallholders in three districts of Ethiopia in ENVIRONMENT, DEVELOPMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY
  • 2017-06-13. A Soil Health Card (SHC) for soil quality monitoring of agricultural lands in south-eastern coastal region of Bangladesh in ENVIRONMENTAL SYSTEMS RESEARCH
  • 2018-04-19. Indigenous knowledge on development and management of shallow dug wells of Dodoma Municipality in Tanzania in APPLIED WATER SCIENCE
  • 2011-10-07. Mineral fertilizers in the farming systems of sub-Saharan Africa. A review in AGRONOMY FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
  • 2007-01-01. Assessment of farmers’ perceptions of soil quality indicators within smallholder farms in the central highlands of Kenya in ADVANCES IN INTEGRATED SOIL FERTILITY MANAGEMENT IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
  • 2021-04-08. The crucial role of mulch to enhance the stability and resilience of cropping systems in southern Africa in AGRONOMY FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
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