51 #worldorganicnews 2017 02 13

Links

 

WORLD ORGANIC NEWS in the Australian Podcast Awards Click here

 

Addressing smallholder farmers’ needs with green manure cover crops and agroforestry in Zambia

http://wp.me/p5Cqpo-eay

 

Improved manure management ? getting more from a limited resource | Africa RISING

http://wp.me/p5Cqpo-ebT

 

Conservation agriculture ? a system to adapt to climate variability and declining soil fertility in Zambia | Africa RISING

http://wp.me/p5Cqpo-edg

 

Soil networks become more connected and take up more carbon as nature restoration progresses ? Permie Flix

http://wp.me/p5Cqpo-eeh

 

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This is the World Organic News for the week ending 13th of February 2017.

Jon Moore reporting!

 

This weeks focus is Small Holders!

I saw a graphic on facebook the other day showing the production from industrial farms Versus smallholders. 30% of the world’s food production coming from the industrial sector and 70% from smallholders.

 

This is a sector in need of support. Starvation or rather the threat of starvation tends drive systems to stability. If we change something we might well starve next winter. This is quite understandable yet something over which we have no control is changing, The Climate.

 

Watching an edition of Landline on the ABC last month I heard a farmer here in Australia telling the interviewer he was certain the climate was changing. His evidence? Silage making used to start in the first week of November, late Spring. Now He starts in the last week of August, two and a half months earlier. Even Alice Springs, in the dead centre of the Australian Continent is now regularly receiving rain during winter. So when the people on the ground can see the changes we need to take heed.

 

Smallhalodings are more resilient as a rule. They have greater tree cover, deeper soils full or organic matter and are by their nature not monocultural. A variety of crops and livestock are kept. This means some form of production will always occur barring a ten year drought. And these are happening too.

 

The blog Africa RISING brings us three posts: Addressing smallholder farmers’ needs with green manure cover crops and agroforestry in Zambia, Conservation agriculture ? a system to adapt to climate variability and declining soil fertility in Zambia & Improved manure management ? getting more from a limited resource.

 

The danger for smallholders is the enticement of the petrochemical industry and the call of “The West”. Perhaps fortunately inorganic fertilisers are 3 to 5 times the price they are in Europe. Growing as if these fertilisers had been applied but not doing so depletes the soil and leads inevitably to the collapse of the system. A poverty trap of enormous proportions.

 

Africa RISING provides a solution. An example from Zambia:

Quote:

In Eastern Province of Zambia, farmers are being offered a range of solutions by Africa RISING that provide a way out of this poverty trap. These technologies, options, and approaches include drought- and stress-tolerant maize germplasm, conservation agriculture (CA), improved rotation and intercropping with grain legumes, agroforestry, and green manure cover crops.

End Quote.

 

In effect, apart from the seed selection options, a return to the traditional smallholder’s way of farming.

 

That being said, pretty much the entire globe is now trapped in a money system of some sort. The need for income has also driven many mixed livestock/cropping smallholders to feed off crop residues rather than leave them on the soil surface to protect that precious resource.

 

Quote:

The use of CA (CA = Conservation Agriculture) principles (minimum soil disturbance, crop residue retention, and diversification through rotation and intercropping) hinges on the ability of farmers to retain sufficient surface crop residues to protect the soil from erosion, runoff, evaporation, and excessive temperatures. However, farmers in mixed crop-livestock systems face competing demands for these residues because they also feed them to their animals. Green manure and selected agroforestry species are therefore grown to improve the soil, generate biomass for ground cover, and provide fodder; some also produce high protein grain for food, feed, or for sale on the market.

End Quote

 

This is the way I’d like to see more of the world’s agronomic resources put to use. It overlaps rather nicely with the methods and principles of Permaculture.

 

And the system has been tested in the fire of El Nino.

Quote:

Conservation agriculture systems have been successfully tried and tested in eastern Zambia since 2011. More than 20,000 farmers have been exposed to CA by SIMLEZA-Africa RISING, the predecessor project of Africa RISING, which continues to sensitize and train more farmers. Farmers benefitted from increased use of CA technologies by gradually increasing crop yields leading to a solid yield benefit of 117% (1942 kg/ha) in a manually direct seeded maize crop following cowpea as compared with the conventional practice in the 2014/2015 cropping season. Rip-line seeding led to a 109% yield benefit (1993 kg/ha) as compared to the conventionally tilled practice. It is the years with seasonal dry-spells and erratic rainfall, such as this last El Niño year, where CA provides its greatest benefits to smallholder farming systems.

End Quote.

 

This stuff works, this will feed the world without any doubt. I used to think some large broad acre grain producers may be needed to cover severe drought and flood conditions. Upon reflection and through a real estate search of north western Europe I discovered nearly every village had a grain mill, local varieties of wheat were grown, well, locally. A return to this sort of diversification may be still be an option. Either way a workable transport system is essential to move foods from areas of surplus to those of deficiency.

 

The principles of Conservation Agriculture are well established as workable. The previous quote showed how it can be introduced: by running it next to paddocks not using the CA principles. Seeing is believing.

 

Our last article this week is from the blog Permie Flix. They tend to specialise in Permaculture related videos but this is a written post. Soil networks become more connected and take up more carbon as nature restoration progresses.

 

These underground systems just become more fascinating for me with each passing article. Not only do these fungal communities communicate between trees, pass nutrients in exchange for sugar they also sequester carbon! I wonder what would happen if we ended deforestation and then started reafforestation? Do you think we could first ameliorate and then reverse the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? It’s almost as if the great forests of the world act as a buffer to atmospheric variations. Who’d have thunk it?

 

And that brings us to the end of this week’s podcast.

 

If you’ve liked what you heard, could please follow the link in the show notes and vote for World Organic News in the Australian Podcast Awards Click here Thanks in advance.

 

Any suggestions, feedback or criticisms of the podcast or blog are most welcome. email me at podcast@worldorganicnews.com.

 

Thank you for listening and I’ll be back in a week.

 

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Links

 

WORLD ORGANIC NEWS in the Australian Podcast Awards Click here

 

Addressing smallholder farmers’ needs with green manure cover crops and agroforestry in Zambia

http://wp.me/p5Cqpo-eay

 

Improved manure management ? getting more from a limited resource | Africa RISING

http://wp.me/p5Cqpo-ebT

 

Conservation agriculture ? a system to adapt to climate variability and declining soil fertility in Zambia | Africa RISING

http://wp.me/p5Cqpo-edg

 

Soil networks become more connected and take up more carbon as nature restoration progresses ? Permie Flix

http://wp.me/p5Cqpo-eeh

 

New podcast episode out now!