Smallholder poverty in sub-Saharan Africa is often linked to sandy soils, which hold little water and are low in nutrients. A new technology may be able to enrich fields and farmers without massive investments in irrigation and fertilizer,
Many farmers across sub-Saharan Africa try to coax crops out of sandy soils that are not ideal for holding water and nutrients. Their harvests are predictably poor. A traditional approach would have them apply more fertilizers and use irrigation, but both of these options require access to resources and infrastructure that many of them do not have. A relatively new technology modeled for eight African countries, and currently being tested in Zimbabwe, shows potential for substantially improving harvests through increased water retention and accumulation of organic material to make soils more fertile.
The technology consists of long strips of polyethylene membranes installed in a U-shape below and near the root zones of crops. Known as subsurface water retention technology (SWRT), these membranes have mostly been used in different soils in other regions of the world. Now for the first time, their impact was modeled for Africa. Projected results showed that the SWRT could increase maize yields in the eight African countries in the study by close to 50 percent and capture some 15 million tons of carbon in 20 years.
“With this new technology, sandy soil has the potential to lead a new green revolution,” said George Nyamadzawo, a professor at Bindura University in Zimbabwe.
The researchers said this simple technology, if deployed and adopted at scale, could address major issues facing sub-Saharan African farmers, including food security and erratic rainfall patterns, while also helping countries meet climate change mitigation targets. The study was published in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems in in September.
“We should refuse to allow sandy soils to limit smallholder farmers from reaching their full potential,” said Ngonidzashe Chirinda, a researcher at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) who co-authored the research. “In arid and semiarid regions with poor soils, smallholder communities continue to suffer due to soil-based poverty. Our research shows SWRT has the potential to effectively change this without recurring to traditional and potentially expensive remedies.”
For the study, SWRT was modeled for the sandy soils of eight countries in Southern Africa and Eastern Africa: Angola, Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. The main objective of the study was to model scenarios of adoption of SWRT and estimate increases in maize yields, crop biomass, and soil carbon sequestration.
Co-authors include scientists at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), in Sweden; Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, in Kenya; Cape Peninsula University of Technology, in South Africa; Bindura University of Science Education, in Zimbabwe; and Michigan State University (MSU), in the United States.
“Potential benefits are obvious with new technologies such as SWRT, but there is a need to overcome non-technical barriers; this requires support from decision-makers who can put in place the necessary policies and financial mechanisms to support farmer adoption,” said Libère Nkurunziza, the lead author and researcher at SLU. “Similar technologies should be tested and adapted to smallholder farmer conditions to solve productivity challenges on sandy soils.”
Using data collected in other regions where SWRT has been tested, the authors made their projections for Africa. The technology is now being tested in Zimbabwe, through a new Swedish Research Council-funded project, called Productive Sands, that is being led by SLU.
“The new innovative, long-term SWRT will lead the way for modifying soils that best assist plant resilience to changing climates and associated weather patterns, enabling smallholder farmers of sandy soils to establish reasonable nutritious food supplies and annual income across all nations,” said Alvin Smucker, a co-author from MSU and one of the pioneers of the technology.
The Latest on: Water retention technology
via Google News
The Latest on: Water retention technology
- Nephros Announces Preliminary Third Quarter Revenues of $2.1 Millionon October 6, 2020 at 4:30 am
Net revenues for the quarter are expected to be $2.1 million, a sequential increase of approximately 34% compared to the prior quarter ended June 30, 2020, and a decrease of approximately 32% compared ...
- Black water to potable water treatment and purificationon September 30, 2020 at 11:00 am
The installation cost may vary depending on the required flow, anticipated retention volume and quality of effluent water. Therefore ... The advancement of technology and automation in treatment ...
- Lieberman, Matthews in race for county commissionon September 29, 2020 at 3:11 pm
Montgomery County Commissioner Debbie Lieberman, a Democrat running for re-election, faces Republican Bob Matthews, a former Miami Twp. trustee and information technology project manager who ...
- Inside Maryland's mission to tackle stormwateron September 29, 2020 at 1:58 pm
The state of Maryland tackles stormwater mitigation through a first-of-its-kind partnership between conservation groups and the private sector.
- Growing Awareness about Soil Management to Drive the Growth of the Soil Amendments Marketon September 28, 2020 at 6:57 am
The Soil Amendments Market is estimated to be valued at USD 3 7 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach a value of USD 6 2 billion by 2025 growing at a CAGR of 10 7 during the forecast ...
- UTSA receives $2.6 million for sustainability projects in San Antonioon September 16, 2020 at 5:00 pm
“In arid and semi-arid regions such as central Texas, the use of native perennial and evergreen xeric vegetation in storm water retention basins represents ... will test various trenchless technology ...
- Hydrophobic coatings Market Size to Reach USD 2 Billion by 2024on September 15, 2020 at 12:28 am
Hydrophobic coatings refer to a nanoscopic coating that has the tendency to repel or fail to mix with water. In essence ... Cytonix, Abrisa Technologies, Akzo Nobel, Aculon, Surfactis Technologies ...
- President instructs to rehabilitate 5,000 tanks immediatelyon September 9, 2020 at 3:32 pm
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa directed relevant authorities to rehabilitate 5,000 tanks scattered across the island following a mechanism combining ancient technology and modern ... and scientific ...
- Prez instructs to rehabilitate 5,000 tanks immediatelyon September 9, 2020 at 12:02 pm
It came under strong criticism by the experts as well as the public. This is due to the fact that despite dredging of tanks, ancient techniques and scientific methods of water retention were not used.
- Schweppes Zimbabwe partners with MACmobile for optimised sales force and customer relationson September 9, 2020 at 2:47 am
Assessing whether sales and marketing activities are hitting the mark forms an integral part of short- and long-term customer retention strategies. Technology provides an important tool in the ...
via Bing News