Energy News  





.
FARM NEWS
Scientists Find That Evergreen Agriculture Boosts Crop Yields

Farmers in Malawi have increased their maize yields by up to 280 percent when the crop is grown under a canopy of one particular fertilizing tree, Faidherbia albida. Unlike most other trees, Faidherbia sheds its leaves during the early rainy season and remains dormant during the crop-growing period.
by Staff Writers
The Hague, Netherlands (SPX) Nov 05, 2010
A unique acacia known as a "fertilizer tree" has typically led to a doubling or tripling of maize yields in smallholder agriculture in Zambia and Malawi, according to evidence presented at a conference in the Hague this week.

The findings were central to the arguments of agroforestry experts at the conference, who urged decision makers to spread this technology more widely throughout the African nations most vulnerable to climate change and food shortages, and to think differently about more practical ways to solve the problems that are most pressing to smallholder farmers.

Speaking today at The Hague Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change, Dr. Dennis Garrity, Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre, said that evergreen agriculture-or the integration of fertilizer trees into crop and livestock-holding farms-is rapidly emerging as an affordable and accessible solution to improving production on Africa's farms.

"Doubling food production by mid-century, particularly in Africa, will require nonconventional approaches, particularly since so many of the continent's soils are depleted, and farmers are faced with a changing climate," Garrity said. "We need to reinvent agriculture in a sustainable and affordable way, so that it can reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases and be adapted to climate change."

Garrity spoke to leading agriculture and climate scientists, policymakers, development experts, and private sector representatives from around the world gathered at The Hague to develop a concrete action plan for linking agriculture-related investments, policies, and measures to transition agriculture to lower carbon-emitting, climate-resilient growth.

In a recent article in Food Security, Garrity and co-authors highlighted how evergreen agriculture has already provided benefits to several million farmers in Zambia, Malawi, Niger and Burkina Faso. Fertilizer trees draw nitrogen from the air and transfer it to the soil through their roots and leaf litter, replenishing exhausted soils with rich sources of organic nutrients.

The trees bolster nutrient supply, increase food crop yields, and enhance the production of fodder, fuel and timber. These systems also provide additional income to farmers from tree products, while at the same time storing much greater amounts of carbon than other agricultural systems.

For example, farmers in Malawi have increased their maize yields by up to 280 percent when the crop is grown under a canopy of one particular fertilizing tree, Faidherbia albida. Unlike most other trees, Faidherbia sheds its leaves during the early rainy season and remains dormant during the crop-growing period.

This makes it highly compatible with food crops because it does not compete with them for water, nutrients, or light-only the bare branches of the tree's canopy spread overhead while crops of maize, sorghum, or millets grow to maturity below.

The leaves and pods also provide a crucial source of fodder in the dry season for livestock when nearly all other plants have dried up. The trees may continue to provide these cost-free benefits for up to 70 to 100 years.

In Niger, there are now more than 4.8 million hectares of millet and sorghum being grown in agroforests that have up to 160 Faidherbia trees on each hectare.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has already noted that transforming degraded agricultural lands into agroforestry has far greater potential to store carbon than any other managed land use change.

Researchers suggest that integrating agroforestry into farming systems on a massive scale would create a vital carbon bank. The IPCC estimates that a billion hectares of developing country farmland is suitable for conversion to carbon agroforestry projects.

A broad alliance is now emerging of governments, research institutions, and international and local development partners committed to expanding evergreen agriculture and agroforestry.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, the European Union, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, and the UN Environment Programme are among those interested in developing partnerships to move the evergreen agriculture agenda forward.

"We are already working with 18 countries across the African continent to develop national plans for the accelerated implementation of evergreen agriculture," Garrity explained.

The next step is to further refine and adapt the technologies to a wider range of smallholder farming systems in diverse agricultural environments, so that millions more farmers can benefit now and for generations to come from such sustainable solutions to their food production challenges.

"Evergreen agriculture allows us to glimpse a future of more environmentally-sound farming where much of our annual food crop production occurs under a full canopy of trees," said Garrity.




Share This Article With Planet Earth
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook



Related Links
Mofe info on evergreen agriculture
World Agroforestry Centre
Farming Today - Suppliers and Technology



Tempur-Pedic Mattress Comparison

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News
FARM NEWS
Europe taking phosphates out of wash in water clean-up
Brussels (AFP) Nov 4, 2010
Europe took steps Thursday to ban phosphates from laundry detergents in little over a year in a bid to clean up its rivers, lakes and marine waters. A European Commission proposal said the ban aimed to reduce phosphates found in waste water which, when discharged, can cause algae to grow at the expense of other aquatic life - a phenomenon known as "red tides" or "green tides" that scientist ... read more

.
Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
  


FARM NEWS
Google Maps embroiled in Central America border dispute

TerraSAR-X Image Of The Month: The Eye Of Typhoon Megi

Last Tango In Space

British watchdog says Google 'Street View' broke law

FARM NEWS
Few Americans using location-based services: Pew study

GPS maker Garmin hanging up on smartphones

Savi Challenges You To Imagine The Best Wireless Applications

European Satellite Navigation Competition Awards

FARM NEWS
New Discoveries Concerning Pre-Columbian Settlements In The Amazon

Brazil mulls land auction to beat logging

Footage shows land clearing threatens Indonesia tigers: WWF

Litter collected, trees planted for global climate campaign

FARM NEWS
Pennycress Could Go From Nuisance Weed To New Source Of Biofuel

Grasses Have Potential As Alternate Ethanol Crop

Leading Advanced Biofuel Groups Meet At White House

ADM To Construct Biodiesel Facility In Brazil

FARM NEWS
Solar Energy System At Caltech Activated

LADWP Moves Forward With Large Solar Array

High Sensitivity Near-Infrared Cameras Improve Solar Cell Production

Russia To Build Its First Industrial Solar Power Station

FARM NEWS
South Korea plans offshore wind project

Buoyant Times Ahead For Offshore Resource Assessments

Suzlon eyes China's wind power market

Offshore Wind A Mixed Bag

FARM NEWS
Twelve killed in China coal mine flood: state media

Colombia coal mining gets a timely boost

China mines to beef up safety after Chile rescue: official

China mine death toll hits 31 as anger rises over rescue

FARM NEWS
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei blasts 'inhuman' Communist regime

Police stop China environmentalist from seeking retrial

China warns Western envoys off Nobel ceremony: diplomats

Disney's Shanghai theme park takes step forward


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. 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 SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement