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Learn More in these related Britannica articles: Farmers have constructed level terraces, supported by walls, in order to hold back water for rice fields, thus effectively controlling erosion. Wherever elaborate terraces have been built, soil erosion is virtually absent, and stepped terraces have become one of the characteristic features of the rural landscape. The problem of humidity was solved by canal irrigation of both the floodwater and permanent type. Much of the irrigation was done just before planting in April and May in order to give crops a head start and….

Terracing divides the land into separate drainage areas, with each area having its own waterway above the terrace. The terrace holds the water on the land, allowing it to soak into the soil and reducing or preventing gullying. In the contouring system, crops are planted…. This method of terrace cultivation allows fields to be sown more than once per year.

Wheat is the most widely cultivated crop, followed by rice and various types of millets, which are planted on the drier leeward slopes. Sugarcane is grown extensively in the gently rolling foothills of….


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Soils desertification In desertification: Solutions to desertification historical evolution In origins of agriculture: Terracing practice in Uttarakhand In Uttarakhand: Agriculture and forestry vegetable farming In vegetable farming: Soil preparation and management pre-Columbian cultures Andean In pre-Columbian civilizations: Agricultural adaptation Mesoamerican In pre-Columbian civilizations: Help us improve this article!

Contact our editors with your feedback. You may find it helpful to search within the site to see how similar or related subjects are covered. Any text you add should be original, not copied from other sources. At the bottom of the article, feel free to list any sources that support your changes, so that we can fully understand their context. Internet URLs are the best. In Senegal, soil erosion and degradation threaten large areas of agricultural land. Since , the Rodale Institute Regenerative Agriculture Research Center RARC has worked closely with farmers associations and government researchers to improve the quality of soils in Senegal by using agroecological methods.

Regenerative agriculture in the groundnat basin has resulted in positive biophysical, environmental, social and economic benefits.

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The primary cropping system of the region is a millet-groundnut rotation. Fields are cleared by burning, and then cultivated with shallow tillage using animals. But fallow periods have decreased dramatically, and the use of inorganic fertilizers and pesticides is rare amongst smallholders, owing to high prices. It has also been well-established that inorganic fertilizers do not return expected yields unless there is concurrent improvements in organic matter - nutrients are washed away by the first rains, or are taken up by soil microbes and weeds.

Soils low in organic matter also do not retain moisture well. The RARC works with about 2 farmers in 59 groups to improve the soil quality, integrate stall-fed livestock into crop systems, add legumes and green manures, improve the use of manures and rock phosphate, incorporate water harvesting systems, and develop effective composting systems. Yields are also less variable year on year, with consequent improvements in household food security.

As Amadou Diop has put it: Droughts, while having a negative effect on yields, do not result in total crop failure". The holes are filled with manure, which improve organic matter, promotes termite activity and enhances water infiltration. When it rains, the holes fill with water and millet or sorghum is planted.

Tassas are normally used in conjunction with stone bunds. Reij indicates that the average family in Burkina Faso using these technologies has shifted from being in annual cereal deficit amounting to kg equivalent to 6.

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Tassas are best suited to landholdings where family labour is available, or where farm hands can be hired. The technique has spawned a network of young day labourers who have mastered this technique and, rather than migrating, they go from village to village to satisfy farmers growing demands. The East Gansu region is part of the 51 million ha dryland area in the Northwest of China. This sustainable agriculture project was initiated by the Gansu Academy of Agriculture in as part of Ninth Five-year National Development Plan aimed at achieving food security and self-sufficiency.

It promotes more efficient use of rainfall through run-off collection techniques, water storage tank construction, devices for lifting and conveying water, microcatchment water conservation with film mulching, and multiuse crop products and byproducts for livestock. The number of farm households adopting sustainable agriculture is now on an area of some 70 ha.

Cereal yields have increased substantially wheat by 40 percent from 3 to 4. There is greater availability of both irrigation water and drinking water for people and animals. Additional benefits include reduced soil erosion, decreased pesticide and fertilizer use, increased social capital formation through farmers mutual aid groups, and increased capacity of women who now play a major part in fruit and vegetable management and livestock rearing.

The region is known for its acute droughts, erratic monsoons, poor services and entrenched socio-economic and cultural division. Village groups, or sanghas, have adopted a range of sustainable agriculture approaches to make better use of existing resources. Water harvesting has been particularly effective, as it not only brings previously abandoned land into production, but also means sufficient water can be saved for an additional wet rice crop on the small amount of irrigated land.

Milk cows have been introduced, bringing particular benefits to women and children. Sorghum and millet yields have doubled, and extra crops and fruit and timber trees are being cultivated. As sanghas become more confident, they begin to develop new activities, such as providing for health care, building roads, and running savings and credit schemes.

Representatives are elected to a Cluster Level Governing Council, an independent society that provides a platform for local groups to address emerging concerns. The programme uses a participatory process for farmers and scientists jointly to map resource flows on farms, and then identify the potential for adjustments that would bring synergistic effects. It has worked with some individual farmers on both vegetable improvements in home gardens and fishpond aquaculture.

This integrated agriculture-aquaculture component of farmers often comprises only m 2 within an average farm size of 1. These integrated farms also produce six times more cash than conventional farms - with the vegetable-fish element contributing up to 70 percent of annual cash income.

Amongst those farmers trained only through the conventional Training and Visit system in southern Malawi, yields by contrast fall steadily, as the over-designed systems unraveled as farmers lost control. An asset-building approach, building both on natural capital on the farm and farmers own human capital skills and knowledge allows for continuous readjustments over time.

Randall Brummet, Daniel Jama; Brummet The Proyecto Agrcola de los Campos Elevados works with Quechua communities in and around the District of Huatta to rehabilitate ancient raised fields. These chinampas or waru-waru were used widely in the Lake Titicaca basin by pre-Hispanic farmers, but had fallen into disuse. In addition, many thousands of hectares had been destroyed by modern, capital-intensive irrigation projects that then failed to improve agricultural yields.

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The Basin, located about 3 m above sea level, is a difficult environment for agriculture because of irregular rainfall, poor and degraded soils, and frequent and severe frosts during the short growing season. Pre-Hispanic farmers had developed sophisticated ways to overcome these limitations, by focusing on diverse and intensive cropping on terraces, sunken gardens gochas and raised fields camellones or waru-waru , together with social mechanisms to ensure efficient and collective action to achieve high and secure levels of productivity.

Local farmers organizations of Huatta, involving some families in ten communities, began to reconstruct these ancient raised fields. The success of the effort was because of the community participation and the development of effective teaching and learning materials.

Although the technology was new to present-day farmers, it was they who conducted the experiments to adapt the technology to their own conditions. In , the programme was taken on by the Peruvian government, and has since expanded to include over 30 altoplano communities. Raised beds require strong social cohesion for the cooperative work needed on beds and canals. For the construction of the fields, labour was organized at the individual family, multi-family and communal levels. Most of the raised fields were constructed on community-owned land that had formerly lain unused for want of local motivation and presence of appropriate institutions.

The labour required for construction was between person-days per ha, depending on local physical conditions. The raised fields are surrounded by canals, which trap silt, improve the micro-climate for crops, act as a barrier to pests and grazing animals, and act as a habitat for aquatic animals. This microclimate of beds and canals reduces frost incidence.

Soil fertility is maintained by green manuring with aquatic plants, livestock manures and crop-weed residues. This fertility encourages a highly productive agriculture. Extra crops are grown, with forage crops of oats, wheat and barley now grown in winter. These raised fields are also more resilient: They involve farmers attending farmer field schools 'schools without walls' during a whole rice season.

They meet each week to learn new agro-ecological principles and concepts relating to rice, pest and predator management. Some 6 farmer field schools have been completed, with about farmers adopting more sustainable rice production on 54 ha. The programmes also emphasize fish cultivation in paddy, and vegetable cultivation on rice field dykes. Rice yields have improved by percent, and costs of production have fallen owing to reduced pesticide use - some 80 percent of farmer field school participants no longer use pesticides.

The fish-rice-vegetable systems have been shown to produce synergistic benefits: As a result, the participating households are now food secure throughout the year. It works closely with farmers to test and adapt technologies. It is also producing unexpected synergistic effects through manipulation of agricultural systems and the paradigms that define them. One activity is investigating novel habitat management approaches to suppress cereal stem borer and Strigapopulations in maize and sorghum.

This project is developing novel 'push-pull' strategies to repel stem borers from the cereal crop and attract them to intercrop or barrier forage grasses. It has found extra-ordinary multi-functionality in a range of fodder grasses and legumes in cereal systems. The strategy involves trapping pests on highly susceptible trap plants pull and driving them away from the crop using a repellent intercrop push:. The forage grasses, Pennisetum purpureum Napier grass and Sorghum vulgare sudanense Sudan grass , attract greater oviposition by stem borers than cultivated maize.

Non-host forage plants, Melinis minutiflora molasses grass and Desmodium uncinatum silver leaf repel female stalk borers Chilo sp. Intercropping with molasses grass Melinis minutiflora increases parasitism, particularly by the larval parasitoid, Cotesia sesamiae , and the pupal parasitoid Dentichasmis busseolae. Meliniscontains several physiologically active compounds.

Two of these inhibit oviposition egg laying in Chilo , even at low concentrations. Molasses grass also emits a chemical, E -4,8-dimethyl-1, 3,7-nonatriene, which summons the borers natural enemies. Napier grass also has its own defense mechanism against crop borers: Sudan grass also increases the efficiency of the natural enemies the parasitism rate on larvae of the spotted stemborer, Chilo partellus more than tripled, from 4. Reduction in Striga infestation by intercropping maize with the two species of Desmodium was significantly more than intercropping maize with soybean, sun hemp and cowpea.

Researchers from ICIPE and IACR-Rothamsted have found that such push-pull, using the attractive plants as trap crops and repellent plants as intercrops, reduces stem borer attack and increases levels of parasitism of borers on protected maize, resulting in a significant increase in yield. Farmer participatory trials in and have shown significant yield increases in maize. The aim is now to develop a maize-based cropping system that will reduce yield losses due to both stem borer and Striga and at the same time improve soil fertility due to nitrogen-fixing action of Desmodium.

Such a redesigned and diverse system has many of the characteristics of traditional farms in Kenya.

Terrace cultivation

Further ICIPE research is showing the effectiveness of neem to control weevils in bananas, diamondback moth in brassicas, and fruitborers in tomatoes; is developing resistant cultivars based on traditional germplasm; is showing the value of sterile male release for fruit fly control; and is demonstrating control of the stemborer, Chilo partellus , through identification of a natural enemy from Pakistan, the parasitic wasp Cotesia flavipes Chilo was accidentally introduced from Asia in the s, and has no co-evolved local natural enemies , which has now been released in Kenya, Mozambique, Uganda, Zambia and Somalia.

Insecticide resistance and human health problems had become severe, and so the IPM project set up farmer field schools to increase awareness about the harmful effects of pesticides, to increase knowledge of natural enemies, and to encourage discussion on best husbandry practice amongst farmers. The project reached 1 farmers in 65 FFS groups, with 48 trainers trained, mainly from local government. As a result, a range of alternative pest control methods was developed by farmers. There has been an 80 percent decrease in pesticide use in the wet season 55 percent fall in the dry season and the synthetic fertilizer rate has halved, giving farmers a net rise in income of 17 percent.

Vegetable yields have also increased by about 20 percent. Farmer field schools are now considered locally to be a good investment by municipal authorities. This project involves households, and has led to the elimination of organophosphate and pyrethroid pesticides from the farming system, provided information and training in sustainable agriculture directly to farmers, and led to the conservation of indigenous trees.


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This project was initiated by a group of resource-poor, mainly women farmers who were keen to produce cotton without pesticides for economic, health and environmental reasons. Alocal NGO, ZIP Research, was asked to provide training and research assistance for the farmers, due to their lack of knowledge, regarding pest management and organic agriculture. This training is provided during regular farmer field schools, which are facilitated by farmers who have been selected by their group and trained for one month by ZIP Research at the Eco-Lab, near Harare.

These facilitators or Farmer Field Workers are trained, during a process of learning through experimentation based on the FAO IPM model in natural pest management and organic farming. The Farmer Field Workers collaborate in farmer-participatory research and are also responsible for operating the organic internal control system. These activities are regularly followed up by ZIP Research.

Funds for the training and follow-up are being provided by Novib. In order to encourage more women into the organic project, a local market has been found for their groundnuts. In addition, the organic inspectors from Krav and Ecocert have accepted the conditional wives special exception, in which a wife may be allowed to have her unsprayed cotton certified, even though her husband is still a conventional farmer.

Furthermore, considering that cotton, in common with most cash crops, is considered to be a mans crop, while many AIDS widows are keen to grow cotton in order to generate a cash income, organic production is accessible to these resource-poor farmers because there is no need for costly inputs. Marketing of the organic products from this project is a crucial aspect of this project and this service is being provided by the local consultant from Agro Eco.

The organic seed-cotton is sold to Cargill at a premium which is currently 20 percent. Last years harvest of one tonne of organic lint is being locally processed into export quality, printed T-shirts. Once the farmers are able to produce more than 25 tonnes of organic lint or one container load it can be sold on the world market at an enhanced premium. This seasons harvest is expected to be between 50 and 70 tonnes of organic seed cotton, depending on the rains, which are currently casing flooding in the area.

Five percent of the premium is used to remunerate those Farmer Field Workers who are judged by their farmers and ZIP Research staff to have performed well during the season. The most outstanding results are that the farmers in the Zambezi Valley were able to market Zimbabwe's first organic cotton.