Work Package Descriptions
Diversified farming for better soils (WP1)
This work package will evaluate effects of conservation agriculture (CA)-based cropping systems, crop diversification and low-cost concepts for expanding kitchen garden area on soil fertility and nutrient uptake and provision by crops. Best practices to sustain and increase yields under smallholder farm conditions will be identified to formulate farmer-led agricultural interventions for fields and kitchen gardens.
Potential topics include introducing state-of-the-art CA concepts adapted to local needs, identifying suitable catch crops for soil improvement (e.g. pigeon peas, lablab and Jack beans), optimizing farm nutrient balances (e.g. rotations, improved fallows, application of organic inputs), and exploring opportunities to expanding area of kitchen gardens. Crops to be tested are short-duration pulses (e.g. lentils), drought adapted nutrient-rich cereals (e.g. tef), and vegetables. In close cooperation with local authorities, demonstration sites will be established near/on school properties to test viable options.
Farm households randomly selected from the project region will be encouraged testing the abovementioned options on-farm according to household preferences and ecological zones. Soil and plant samples will be collected and analyzed using a X-ray fluorescence spectrometer for rapid and spatially-explicit assessment of crop-soil nutrient relationships to unravel the role of crop diversification and management on the transfer of nutritionally-important nutrients from soils to crops and their impact on soil fertility and yields. Farm families’ feedback suggestions, ther innovation ideas and agronomic performance of these options will help identify best practices and choices for sustainable resource use and production of nutrient-dense crops.