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Experimental assessment of innovative slash and burn cultivation practices for sustainable land-use and deforestation prevention in Central Menabe (Madagascar) - AGRIFEU

English title Experimental assessment of innovative slash and burn cultivation practices for sustainable land-use and deforestation prevention in Central Menabe (Madagascar) - AGRIFEU
Applicant Buttler Alexandre
Number 146791
Funding scheme r4d (Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development)
Research institution Laboratoire des systèmes écologiques EPFL - ENAC - IIE - ECOS
Institution of higher education EPF Lausanne - EPFL
Main discipline Pedology
Start/End 01.11.2013 - 31.10.2017
Approved amount 357'178.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Pedology
Social geography and ecology

Keywords (7)

Dry forest; Soil fertility; Madagascar; Slash-and-burn cultivation; Tropical agriculture; Rural houshold; Ecosystem services

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Evaluation expérimentale d’une culture sur brûlis innovante permettant une utilisation durable des sols et la prévention de la déforestation dans la région du Menabe central, à Madagascar - projet AGRIFEUProf. Alexandre Buttler, Laboratoire ECOS, EPFL-WSL Lausanne
Lay summary

La région du Menabe central, à Madagascar, est fortement concernée par les cultures sur brûlis qui décime la forêt dense sèche. La forêt est utilisée comme une réserve de terre, l’utilisation du sol n’étant pas durable et les cultures nécessitant ainsi constamment de nouvelles surfaces. En détruisant et brûlant la forêt, l’agriculteur récupère au sol les cendres, seul élément de fertilité accessible dans ces régions pauvres. Cependant, la fertilisation du sol n’est que de courte durée, ceux-ci perdant rapidement les minéraux, soit par érosion, soit par lessivage.

Le projet a pour but (1) d’analyser les pratiques des cultures sur brûlis dans la région du Menabe, à Madagascar, et les bénéfices et problèmes pour la population rurale, (2) de déterminer le potentiel d’adaptation des pratiques pour une utilisation durable des sols, et (3) de tester par une expérience culturale des techniques alternatives. Ainsi, le projet constitue une étape vers le développement de stratégies permettant de concilier développement de l’agriculture et conservation des habitats, et doit permettre de réduire les interventions destructives dans la forêt dense sèche.

Le travail de recherche consiste à (1) faire le bilan du savoir « écologique » des agriculteurs, des contraintes et éléments critiques pour la gestion des cultures, (2) de caractériser le système sol - plantes cultivées – arbres protecteurs, la fertilité et les rendements dans un certain nombres de cultures de mais, (3) de tester le potentiel de la technique de fertilisation au moyen de composte constitué avec quelques espèces locales, et (4) de déterminer la meilleure pratique combinant la protection par les arbres qui survive généralement au feu, la préparation du sol et le compostage (feuilles et branches) dans le but d’obtenir des agro-écosystèmes durables écologiquement, mais aussi acceptable socialement.


Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 11.10.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Slash-and-burn agriculture and tropical cyclone activity in Madagascar: implication for soil fertility dynamics and corn performance
Gay-des-Combes Justine, Robroek Bjorn, Hervé Dominique, Pistocchi C., Mills Rob, Buttler Alexandre (2017), Slash-and-burn agriculture and tropical cyclone activity in Madagascar: implication for soil fertility dynamics and corn performance, in Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 239, 207-218.
Tropical soils degraded by slash-and-burn cultivation can be recultivated when amended with ashes and compost
Gay-des-Combes JM, Carrillo CS, Robroek BJM, Jassey VEJ, Mills RTE, Arif MS, Falquet L, Frossard E, Buttler A (2017), Tropical soils degraded by slash-and-burn cultivation can be recultivated when amended with ashes and compost, in Ecology and Evolution, 7, 5378-5388.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
ETH-Zurich, Groupe ForDev Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Essa Foret Tana Madagascar (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Colloque international "La biodiversité et les populations dans le contexte du changement climatique" Talk given at a conference OPTIMIZATION OF SLASH-AND-BURN CULTIVATION IN THE DRY FOREST OF CENTRAL MENABE, MADAGASCAR 10.12.2013 Antananarivo, Madagascar Randriamboavonjy Jean Chrysostom; Buttler Alexandre; Gay-des-Combes Justine; Ramamonjisoa Bruno Salomon; Hervé Dominique; Garcia Claude; Razanaka Samuel;


Knowledge transfer events



Self-organised

Title Date Place
Closing conference on the project Experimental assessment of innovative slash and burn cultivation practices for sustainable land-use and deforestation prevention in Central Menabe (Madagascar) 06.06.2017 Antananarivo, Madagascar

Abstract

Madagascar is recognized as one of the main biodiversity hotspots on earth and pressure on ecosystems is increasing over the years due to a rapid deforestation. So far, politics and NGOs blame rural households as the cause of natural habitat loss because of their practice of slash-and-burn agriculture. Nevertheless, from the point of view of local communities, these practices are a way to preserve soil fertility as long as traditional rules are respected and in turn they blame “migrant” communities, which settled about 50 years ago in the region, for unsustainable slash-and-burn practices. Therefore, the main challenge this proposal will address is the reunification of the different stakeholders by showing that traditional practices and nature conservation can co-exist. The proposal is an attempt to bring together different stakeholders for exploring experimentally alternative practices such as selective slash-and-burn, which could represent a first step to develop management strategies that will balance conservation and development and thus allow for more sustainable land use and reduce deforestation in Central Menabe, Madagascar.We intend to test the following hypotheses:(1) Some specific local trees that have been shown to be major contributors to biomass in secondary vegetation and have favourable mineral content (like Pourpartia sylvatica and Tarenna Sericea) can be used to produce organic fertilizers by means of compost transformation.(2) Selective slash-and-burn practices can improve the socially and environmentally sustainable use of the land when coupled with agro-ecological methods.(3) Potential socio-economic impacts of the method should be high as the techniques stay close to the traditional practices, will build upon local practices, and will respect local drivers and constraints.To test these three hypotheses, we will pursue four specific objectives:1.To elicit local ecological knowledge, drivers and constraints related to the soil/cultivated plant/tree system and the slash-and-burn practices.2.To characterize the soil-cultivated plant system for the main local crop (maize).3.To assess the potential of fertilisation with compost made of selected local trees, and the constraints of composting.4.To determine the best combination of vegetation cover (gradient of tree cover remaining in the field after selective slash-and-burn), soil preparation-tillage and composting (green leaves and small branches from selected trees) for a sustainable and socially acceptable agro-ecosystem.The proposed research is an opportunity to fund innovative and cutting-edge work on slash-and-burn practices, which both answers basic scientific questions while addressing the aspects of working directly with local farmers and explores the potential of innovation with them.
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