. Energy News .

Researchers propose new way to save Africa's beleaguered soils
by Staff Writers
Pullman WA (SPX) Sep 21, 2012

Rhoda Mangyana feeds her pigs maize bran, Gliricidia branches and weeds that grow in the fields. She sells the pigs to pay her grandchildren's school fees. Credit: Jim Richardson.

A Washington State University researcher and colleagues make a case in the journal Nature for a new type of agriculture that could restore the beleaguered soils of Africa and help the continent feed itself in the coming decades.

Their system, which they call "perenniation," mixes food crops with trees and perennial plants, which live for two years or more. Thousands of farmers are already trying variations of perenniation, which reduces the need for artificial inputs while improving soil and in some cases dramatically increasing yields. One woman quadrupled her corn crop, letting her raise pigs and goats and sell surplus grain for essentials and her grandchildren's school fees.

John Reganold, a WSU soil scientist, wrote the article with Jerry Glover of the USAID Bureau for Food Security and Cindy Cox of the International Food Policy Research Institute. The article, "Plant perennials to save Africa's soils," appears in the Sept. 20 issue of Nature.

The authors argue that perenniation offers a powerful option as the world's growing population poses new challenges for people struggling to eat. Already, one-fourth of the world's undernourished population lives in sub-Saharan Africa, where nutrient-poor soils have yields that are one-tenth of the U.S. Midwest. Farmers often make these lands worse by adding conventional mineral fertilizers without organic inputs.

"Of the various factors needing urgent attention to increase agricultural productivity, scientists from the region have identified soil quality as a top priority," the researchers write. "We believe that perenniation should be used much more widely to help farmers to meet the challenge of improving soils while increasing food production."

Several efforts to increase perenniation are already underway, including perennial grain research at WSU and millions of plantings across sub-Saharan Africa in the Trees for Food Security project. But the researchers argue for elevating perenniation research to the levels of support given mineral fertilizers and seed development.

The cost could run to tens of millions of dollars.

"Yet such numbers pale in comparison to the losses of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium from sub-Saharan farm fields each year," the researchers say. Such losses, they add, are the equivalent of billions of dollars of fertilizer.

Related Links
Washington State University
Farming Today - Suppliers and Technology

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries


. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Scientists conclude high fructose corn syrup should not be blamed for obesity
Shrewsbury MA (SPX) Sep 20, 2012
A new article published in International Journal of Obesity found there is no evidence to suggest the current obesity epidemic in the United States can be specifically blamed on consumption of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). The commentary concludes that after an extensive review of all available HFCS research, there is overwhelming evidence showing HFCS is nutritionally equivalent to sug ... read more

Apple fans complain of missing landmarks in new map system

Pioneering UK project to improve land carbon intelligence accuracy and reliability

More satellite launches planned for upgrading maritime monitoring

Astrium installs new terminal in Mexico to receive SPOT 6 and SPOT 7 imagery

ITT Exelis announces new capability in GPS interference, detection and geolocation

Countdown: a month to go to Galileo's next launch

Monitech Announces Zero-Installation Tracking System for Automotive Industry

Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Complete First Launch Exercise for Next Generation GPS Satellites

Forest killer plant study explores rapid environmental change factors

Research study trees chopped down

Old Deeds, Witness Trees Offer Glimpse of Pre-settlement Forest in West Virginia

Trouble in paradise: Does nature worship harm the environment?

New Uses for Old Tools Could Boost Biodiesel Output

World's first biofuel jet flight to take off in Canada

Sorghum Eyed as a Southern Bioenergy Crop

EU confirms change in biofuel targets

Q.CELLS North America Showcases Latest Innovation at Solar Power International 2012

Hanwha Solar Unveils Product Innovations with Strategic Partners

SolarBridge Technologies Introduces Global Microinverter Platform

Eltek Hits Solar Interoperability Milestone

Wind power faces tax credit uncertainty

Sufficient wind energy available to meet global demands without damaging climate

Report backs greater role for wind energy

Wind could meet many times world's total power demand by 2030

Australian coal projects mega polluters?

Australian coal basin may be top 10 polluter: Greenpeace

Coal mining jobs slashed in Australia

China mine accident kills 10

China police kill homeowner in demolition protest

Chinese man wrongly sent to labour camp: panel

H.K. students protest over 'brainwashing' classes

China villager bombs local government office

Memory Foam Mattress Review

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement