Monthly Archives: March 2018

The open secret of fertiliser shrubs

Evergreen agriculture, a form of agroforestry, is an affordable solution to agricultural challenges. The approach integrates trees with food crops and livestock to create more sustainable and productive agricultural systems for smallholding farm families. Evergreen agriculture is already positively transforming the lives of farmers in more than 20 African countries. Through restoring exhausted soils with richer sources of organic nutrients, farmers are enjoying higher crop yields, more fodder for livestock and increased supply of firewood for household consumption, leading to greater incomes. With support from the Innovation Transfer into Agriculture: Adaptation to Climate Change project, leading farmers from Siaya county in Kenya have begun to practise evergreen agriculture and share the transformations they have experienced.

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Instructional video to practicing EverGreen Agriculture

This Man Wants to Pull 60,000 Rwandans Out of Poverty by Planting Trees

Jean Baptiste Mutabaruka is on the road to the local bank, again. When he gets there, he will inquire once more about raising money for an idea he thinks will reduce poverty in his small farming community of 60,000 in the province of Eastern Rwanda.

For 10 years, Jean Baptiste has journeyed through the parched villages of the Karangazi Sector, even in soaring heat, to champion the planting of trees, which he sees as a potent antidote to widespread poverty in the region.

According to research conducted by WRI, he is right. Planting and protecting trees would likely lead to increased land productivity, as well as improving food and water security. The Tigray region of Ethiopia halved its poverty level through restoring land over the last 20 years.

But the bank has not been able to fund him on a regular basis. He will have to find the money to buy the seedlings, to plant and protect trees as they grow, to support students to help, to purchase the tools for his work, somewhere else.

If the bank doesn’t bite this time, Jean Baptiste doesn’t know where he will turn. He waves to students in the nearby school, who play football on the dusty, red earth. Probably he will return to evangelizing his cause on his travels.

“I see that it’s possible to change it,” he says.

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Originally published on the WRI site.

Improving the Resiliency and Productivity of Farmlands through Agroforestry

When Holly and Barry Mawby arrived on their farm in Esmond, North Dakota in 2011, they discovered windbreaks that had not been cared for in decades. They quickly realized that they were in jeopardy of losing what little protection they had from the brutal winds.

Farmers are challenged by ever-increasing production demands under the uncertainties of changing weather conditions, climates, and markets. Agroforestry, the intentional integration of trees and shrubs into crop and livestock production systems, can enhance not only the resiliency, but also the productivity and profitability of agricultural operations and lands.

The US Forest Service has published a new report: Agroforestry: Enhancing Resiliency in U.S. Agricultural Landscapes Under Changing Conditions that presents the first-ever synthesis on agroforestry as a mechanism for improving the resiliency of farm lands. Drawing upon the most current science, the report shows how tree-based management strategies can improve agricultural production and resiliency, especially under changing environmental conditions.

Agroforestry is not a new idea; it has played a prominent role in the history of large-scale U.S. agricultural landscape management. In the 1930s, the Prairie States Forestry Program planted over 18,600 miles of windbreaks in the Great Plains to minimize soil erosion during the Dust Bowl period.

Practices like windbreaks and alley cropping, in which trees or shrubs are grown around or among crops, can reduce wind velocity, decrease erosion, and improve soil health. Silvopasture, the sustainable production of livestock, trees, and cattle on the same unit of land, allows trees to be managed for timber or other tree crops while providing shade and shelter for livestock.

Riparian buffers – vegetated areas along streams and other water bodies – stabilize banks, reduce nutrient runoff, and provide shade that helps keep rising stream temperatures in check. Forest farming, or the cultivation of high-value crops like ginseng or shitake mushrooms under a forest canopy, is another agroforestry tool used to diversify farm portfolios and provide economic stability for landowners.

Originally published on the USDA website

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