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Farmer-driven organic resource management to build soil fertility

English title Farmer-driven organic resource management to build soil fertility
Applicant Fliessbach Andreas
Number 177582
Funding scheme r4d (Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development)
Research institution Forschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau (FiBL)
Institution of higher education Research Institute of Organic Agriculture - FiBL
Main discipline Agricultural and Forestry Sciences
Start/End 01.01.2018 - 31.12.2020
Approved amount 1'633'214.00
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All Disciplines (4)

Discipline
Agricultural and Forestry Sciences
Environmental Research
Sociology
Communication sciences

Keywords (8)

Soil fertility ; Institution building; Soil governance; Organic resource management; Communication for development; Farmers; Adoption of technology; Participatory research

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Die Bodenqualität in vielen Teilen Afrikas südlich der Sahara ist ungünstig für die pflanzliche Produktion und droht trotz weitreichender Forschungs- und Entwicklungsarbeit weiter abzunehmen. Um Strategien zu entwickeln wie insbesondere Kleinbauern unterstützt werden können die Bodenqualität zu verbessern, analysieren wir die technisch-agronomischen, wirtschaftlichen, sozialen und politischen Rahmenbedingungen in jeweils zwei Regionen in Mali, Ghana, Kenia und Sambia.
Lay summary

Gemeinsam mit 120 teilnehmenden Kleinbauern wurden Techniken zur Verbesserung der Bodenqualität diskutiert um mit ihnen die vielversprechendsten Techniken zu prüfen. Ausserdem werden diese Techniken in acht replizierten Feldversuchen getestet um ihr Potenzial zu prüfen im Rahmen der geo-klimatischen Bedingungen die Bodenqualität zu verbessern. Zudem wurden jeweils 300 zufällig ausgewählte Kleinbauern in den acht Regionen zu Fragen der Bodenfruchtbarkeit und den persönlichen, sozialen und politischen Rahmenbedingungen interviewt.

Die Resultate der Forschung sind Gegenstand einer Kommunikationskampagne, die auf Radio und Feldtagen mit Besichtigung der Versuche baut. Im Anschluss daran wird die Umfrage wiederholt um die Wirkung der Kampagne zu ermitteln. Innovationsplattformen, die in allen vier Ländern etabliert worden sind, bringen einflussreichen Akteure aus Forschung und Praxis mit solchen aus Gesellschaft und Politik zusammen um gemeinsam Lösungen für Hindernisse und Probleme bei der Einführung bodenverbessernder Techniken zu definieren. Wir erwarten, dass die Innovationsplattform mit Hilfe nationaler und internationaler Netzwerke unterstützend wirkt um die Engpässe und Hindernisse, die in der Praxis identifiziert wurden, zu beseitigen.

Eine gute Bodenqualität und Bodenfruchtbarkeit sind Voraussetzung für die ökonomische Nachhaltigkeit und Umweltverträglichkeit in den ländlichen Gemeinschaften, denn sie beeinflussen mittel- bis langfristig die Nahrungsmittelsicherheit und damit auch die Stabilität von Gesellschaften und Nationen. ORM4Soil trägt ausserdem dazu bei, Kommunikationsstrategien zu optimieren und entwickelt Empfehlungen für die Politik und Körperschaften der Forschung und Entwicklung für eine nachhaltige Nahrungsmittelproduktion, die den Boden gleichzeitig nutzt und schützt.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 01.03.2018

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Despite extensive R & D, soil quality in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa is unfavorable for crop production and there is a risk that it further declines. In order to develop strategies for helping smallholder farmers in particular to improve soil quality, we analyze the technical, agronomic, economic, social and political frameworks in two regions each in Mali, Ghana, Kenya and Zambia.
Lay summary

We discussed techniques for improving soil quality with 120 participating smallholder farmers. On their own fields, they were then testing the most promising techniques, with support from researchers. In addition, we compare these techniques in eight replicated field trials to test their potential to improve soil quality under the given geo-climatic conditions. In addition, 300 randomly selected small farmers in the eight regions were interviewed on questions of soil fertility and personal, social and political conditions.

The results of the research are the subject of a communication campaign that builds on radio and field days with a visit to the trials. Following this, we will repeat the survey to determine the impact of the campaign. Innovation platforms that have been established in all four countries, bring together influential research and practice stakeholders with those from society and politics to jointly identify solutions to obstacles and problems in implementing soil improvement techniques. We expect that the innovation platform, with the help of national and international networks, will help to eliminate the bottlenecks and obstacles that have been identified in practice.

Good soil quality and soil fertility are prerequisites for economic sustainability and environmental sustainability in rural communities, as they will affect food security in the medium to long term and thus also the stability of societies and nations. ORM4Soil also helps to optimize communication strategies and develops recommendations for R & D policy and bodies for sustainable food production that simultaneously uses and protects the soil.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 01.03.2018

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Soil fertility inputs and tillage influence on maize crop performance and soil water content in the Central Highlands of Kenya
Kiboi M.N., Ngetich K.F., Fliessbach A., Muriuki A., Mugendi D.N. (2019), Soil fertility inputs and tillage influence on maize crop performance and soil water content in the Central Highlands of Kenya, in Agricultural Water Management, 217, 316-331.
Understanding and Changing Farming, Food & Fiber Systems. The Organic Cotton Case in Mali and West Africa
Nicolay Gian L. (2019), Understanding and Changing Farming, Food & Fiber Systems. The Organic Cotton Case in Mali and West Africa, in Open Agriculture, 4(1), 86-97.
Use of innovation platforms in addressing soil fertility challenges: experiences
ChikopelaLouis, KalindaThomson, KuntashulaElias, NicolayGian, KalalaDaniel, ChishalaBenson H. (2018), Use of innovation platforms in addressing soil fertility challenges: experiences, in African Journal of Rural Development, 3(1), 597-615.
The Status of Perception, Information Exposure and Knowledge of Soil Fertility among small-scale farmers in Ghana, Kenya, Mali and Zambia
SpurkChristoph, AsulePamellah, Baah-OforiRebecca, ChikopelaLouis, DiarraBoubacar, KochCarmen, The Status of Perception, Information Exposure and Knowledge of Soil Fertility among small-scale farmers in Ghana, Kenya, Mali and Zambia, in Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Paul Desmarais; Kasisi Agriculture Training Centre Zambia (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Daniel Asare; Biotechology and Nuclear Agricultural Research Institute Ghana (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Benson Chishala; University of Zambia Zambia (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Fernando Sousa; FiBL Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Sidiki Gabriel Dembele; Université de Bamako, Institut Polytechnique Rural Mali (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Gian Nicolay; Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
Famagan Oulé Konaté; Université de Bamako, Socio demographe Mali (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Exchange of personnel
Dilys Sefakor MacCarthy; University of Ghana Ghana (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Odiaba Samake; Institut d'Economie Rurale, Centre Regional de Recherche Agronomique de Sikasso Mali (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
Noah Adamtey; Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Christoph Spurk; Institute of Applied Media Studies Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Daniel Bruce Sarpong; University of Ghana Ghana (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Carmen Koch; Institute of Applied Media Studies Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Felix Ngetich Kipchirchir; University of Embu Kenya (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Margaret Amoakohene; University of Ghana - School of Communication Studies Ghana (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Anne Muriuki, Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation Kenya (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Fagaye Sissoko; Institut d'Economie Rurale, Centre Regional de Recherche Agronomique de Sikasso Mali (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Wambui Kiai; School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Nairobi Kenya (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Thomson Kalinda; University of Zambia Zambia (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Exchange of personnel
Godfred Kwabena Ofosu-Budu; University of Ghana Ghana (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
1st International Conference on Agroecology Transforming Agriculture & Food Systems in Africa Talk given at a conference A Spatial Multi-Criteria evaluation for selection of optimal locations for the use of organic resources in the Upper Tana region Kenya 18.06.2019 Nairobi, Kenya Fliessbach Andreas; Muriuki Anne Wanjuri; Adamtey Noah;
4th World Congress on Agroforestry Talk given at a conference Effects of Gliricidia sepium agroforestry systems associated with maize, cotton and sorghum on soil productivity in Mali 20.05.2019 Montpellier, France Sousa Fernando; Fliessbach Andreas; Adamtey Noah; Sissoko Fagaye;
18th Workshop on Sustainable Horticultural Production in the Tropics Talk given at a conference Effect of selected soil management practices on soil hydrological properties in the Humic Nitisols and the Ferralsols in Kenya 26.11.2018 Taita Taveta University, Voi, Kenya Fliessbach Andreas; Adamtey Noah; Muriuki Anne Wanjuri;
4th Dedan Kimathi University of Technology International Conference on Science, Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Talk given at a conference Short-Term Assessment of Potential of Integrated Soil Fertility Management Technologies to Improve Soil Fertility in Tharaka-Nithi and Murang’a Counties, Kenya 07.11.2018 Nyeri, Kenya Muriuki Anne Wanjuri; Adamtey Noah;
TropenTag Poster Adoption of Local Organic Resources for Soil Fertility Improvement in Crop Production: Ghana 17.09.2018 Ghent, Belgium Fliessbach Andreas; Nicolay Gian Linard; Adamtey Noah; Spurk Christoph; Ofosu-Budu Godfred Kwabena;
23 International Conference Society for Human Ecology. Navigating Complexity: human-environmental solutions for a challenging future" Talk given at a conference Dissemination and adoption of bottom-up agricultural innovations to improve soil fertility in Africa: An interdisciplinary approach 09.07.2018 Lisbon, Portugal Fliessbach Andreas; Sousa Fernando; Adamtey Noah; Spurk Christoph; Nicolay Gian Linard;
2nd University of Kabianga International Conference Talk given at a conference Integrated soil nutrient management technologies for improved maize (Zea mays L.) productivity in Murang’a and Tharaka-Nithi counties 09.05.2018 Kericho, Kenya Muriuki Anne Wanjuri; Adamtey Noah;
12th Egerton University International Conference Talk given at a conference Characterizing Decomposability of Organic Inputs under Contrasting Tillage Systems in Farmer- Managed Conditions in the Central Highlands of Kenya 12.03.2018 Njoro, Kenya Adamtey Noah; Muriuki Anne Wanjuri;
12th Egerton University International Conference Talk given at a conference Soil biological properties response to selected soil fertility management strategies in the sub-humid region of Central Kenya 12.03.2018 Njoro, Kenya Adamtey Noah; Muriuki Anne Wanjuri;
12th Egerton University International Conference Talk given at a conference Enhancing soil water productivity using selected soil management practices in the central highlands of Kenya 12.03.2018 Njoro, Kenya Muriuki Anne Wanjuri; Adamtey Noah;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Africa Scientific Renaissance day Talk 30.06.2019 Bamako, Mali Sissoko Fagaye;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Three day training for farmers on tree nurseries for Agroforestry (Zoumana Diassa) 25.03.2019 Zoumana Diassa, Mali
Three day training for farmers on tree nurseries for Agroforestry (Mafeya) 21.02.2019 Mafeya, Mali
Farmers' field days, Mafeya - Mali (5 days) 15.10.2018 Mafeya, Mali
Regional Innovation Platform - Climate change - Farming system -Soil 01.05.2018 Sikasso, Mali

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: radio, television Communication Campaign Ghana: Soil Fertility and ORM4Soil innovations (series of 6 radio emissions) Radio Obuoba FM International 2019
Media relations: radio, television Communication Campaign Kenya: Soil Fertility and ORM4Soil innovations (series of 5 radio emissions) Radio Inooro FM; Radio Muuga FM International 2019
Media relations: radio, television Communication Campaign Mali: Agroforestry and soil fertility (series of 5 radio emissions) Radio Mamelon, Radio ORTM and Radio IDFM International 2019
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Fast wie Ferien? Interdisziplinäre Medienforschung in Afrika Language matters – Blog für Sprache und Kommunikation German-speaking Switzerland 2019
Media relations: radio, television Communication Campaign Zambia: Soil Fertility and Soil organic matter (series of 12 radio emissions) Radio Breeze FM; Radio Lutanda International 2018

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
152224 Farmer-driven organic resource management to build soil fertility 01.01.2015 r4d (Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development)

Abstract

The decline of soil fertility is a major threat to agriculture and food security in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Enforced organic matter production by modern agroforestry systems (planting of nitrogen fixing trees, leguminous shrubs together with food crops), as well as the use of mulch and compost have shown to increase and maintain soil fertility. Yet these techniques have failed to be implemented in farmers’ cropping systems on a large scale. ORM4Soil aims at identifying the agronomic, socio-economic, cultural, and communicative reasons that promote the adoption of tested agricultural technologies, and finding ways to overcome hindrances. The studies of ORM4Soil are conducted within a range of agro-ecological conditions that include humid and arid climatic zones of Mali, Ghana, Kenya and Zambia. In each of these countries researchers from Swiss institutions are collaborating with partners of universities and research stations, extension services and farmers. Most of the research is done by PhD and associated MSc students being supervised by local and international experts in the respective field. ORM4Soil seeks to improve approaches and research designs that can easily lead to soil fertility management techniques, address institutional barriers and soil governance, change habits and attitudes of farmers and local society towards agricultural sustainability, and identify the best processes of communication according to farmers' needs. It is further expected that our inter- and trans-disciplinary approach applied in the four countries will be scalable to the whole Sub-Saharan Africa. This project has the potential to contribute significantly to the resilience of food systems, agricultural productivity, environmental stability, and food security.In the first phase of ORM4Soil, we were integrating farmers in designing and managing of techniques that provide a higher input of organic matter to the soil, which is important to reverse the trend of declining soil fertility. Farmer-driven organic resource management techniques were developed jointly with farmers and are tested at both on-station and on-farm levels. Even though only 104 farmers were directly participating in the testing, 2400 farmers were interviewed in total as part of an initial survey. Political and societal groups are involved and informed on the outcome of the project at the level of locally installed innovation platforms, where they analyze constraints and develop solutions for initiating change. The first phase of the project produced results from agronomic field trials on research stations as well as on farms. In the survey we collected information about the farm and the farmers, their constraints and opportunities as well as media use, and other information sources about soil fertility, and the socio-economic and sociological settings. In the second phase of the project the agronomic students involved will end their field work and start publishing, while the students in sociology and communication will continue analyzing the information sources farmers use and develop a communication campaign of techniques for improving soil fertility, mainly by radio, but also involving field days and extension service. At the end of this campaign, a second survey will be done not only to analyze the change in the perception of farmers, but as well the change in their practice, i.e. whether farmers have adopted the new techniques. The innovation platforms are developing from the local to the district and to the regional and national level with new representatives and actors of the society and policy. They will discuss the constraints of farmers in adopting organic resource management technologies, but also develop political and institutional scenarios of change.
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