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Doubled-up legume technologies in conservation agriculture show potential for scale up

May 18th, 2017 / Africa Rising

Smallholder farming systems in southern Africa are faced with challenges such as declining soil fertility, low productivity and profitability and the increased need to adapt to climate variability and change. Sustainable intensification of both legume- and maize-based farming systems is needed to increase food, nutrition and income security for smallholders.
Since …

Agronomist urges farmers to commit to weed control to prevent herbicide resistance

May 8th, 2017 / Phys.org

Farmers faced with tight profit margins may consider cutting back on weed control efforts this growing season, but an Iowa State University agronomist said doing so may cost farmers money in the long term.
Robert Hartzler, a professor of agronomy and ISU Extension and Outreach weed expert, said low commodity prices …

Keep your small farm productive by taking good care of soil

May 2nd, 2017 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali writes: A small scale farmer works on the same piece of land every year and can hardly practice crop rotation or make part of the plot rest. The soil may eventually lose the required nutrients for successful crop production due to over cultivation and depletion.
A farmer …

Warming of 2°C in Africa could reduce ag production by 20 per cent

April 19th, 2017 / Fresh Plaza, US

The Center for Global Development’s 2011 report, “Quantifying Vulnerability to Climate Change Implications for Adaptation Assistance,” forecasts median agricultural productivity losses due to climate change ranging from 18% in North Africa to 19.8% in Central Africa through 2050.
The weak output in Africa, reinforced by a spike in temperatures and exacerbated …

Vicious circle of poverty and food insecurity

April 18th, 2017 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali writes: A poor household is usually malnourished, and vulnerable to disease and other evils. Uganda is known to be well endowed with fertile soil and bi-annual rainfall. Yet we have thousands of households that are too poor to produce enough food for their nutritional requirements or …

Soil microbiome – research into practice

April 17th, 2017 / Claudia Canales, B4FA

The previous blog looked at the extraordinary complexity of life supported by soils, in particular healthy, productive soils. This is especially true in the rhizosphere, the soils directly affected by plant root secretions. Key functions modulated by microbes include plant nutrition through the release of inorganic phosphorous in soils, the …

Hunger will continue to plague Africa until we get serious on soils

April 14th, 2017 / Thompson Reuters

Severe hunger in Africa could become a thing of the past even in arid regions. Long-term strategies to build resilience to the harsh climates that decimate crops and cattle do exist and need implementing with urgency. In Africa, these strategies, that can lead to major productivity gains in the face …

Microbiomes could help plants grow, resist disease and make agriculture more sustainable

April 12th, 2017 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Feeding a growing world population amidst climate change requires optimizing the reliability, resource use, and environmental impacts of food production.
One way to assist in achieving these goals is to integrate beneficial plant microbiomes—i.e., those enhancing plant growth, nutrient use efficiency, abiotic stress tolerance, and disease resistance—into agricultural production. Read …

Genetically engineered microbes make their own fertiliser

April 11th, 2017 / Science, US

Industrial fertilizers help feed billions of people every year, but they remain beyond the reach of many of the world’s poorest farmers. Now, researchers have engineered microbes that, when added to soil, make fertilizer on demand, producing plants that grow 1.5 times larger than crops not exposed to the bugs …

Earthworms are more if you want to save the planet

April 5th, 2017 / The Conversation, UK

Not all wildlife is created equal in our eyes. Take the earthworm, which doesn’t have the widespread appeal of larger, more charismatic animals such as gorillas, tigers or pandas. Worms are never going to get a strong “cute response”, and they won’t ever be the face of a conservation campaign.
But …