Intercropping benefits depend upon proximity

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There are numerous examples of crops that, when planted closely in intercropped systems, make better use of soil ntrients. In China, Wheat intercropped with maize showed a 74% increase in yields; Wheat intercropped with soybean showed a 53% increase (Zhang and Li 2003).  This is partially attributable to ‘competitive recovery’, the amelioration of abiotic stresses both […]

Shifting cultivation and agrobiodiversity in Vanuatu

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In Vanuatu, farmers prefer to work numerous small fields in different locations and as a mechanism to cope with hurricane and pest damage. Shifting cultivation, a widespread cultivation system in the tropics, is also practiced and helps to maintain a high diversity of primary and subsidiary crops. 297 fields in 6 villages were measured and […]

Farmer to Farmer Networks Facilitate the Spread of Green Manure

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In Nicaragua, the spread of simple technologies through farmer to farmer networks such as the campesino a campesino movement have facilitated the recovery of degraded land. In the San Juan Watershed, farmers have adopted cover cropping with velvetbean.  This has reduced utilization of chemical fertilizers by nearly 80% (from 1,900 kg/ha to only 400 kg/ha), while increasing […]

Benefits of Tithonia in Western Kenya

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In Western Kenya, about 4000 farmers are enriching their farms with biomass from Tithonia, a wild sunflower that grows abundantly in hedgerows and along roadsides. Tithonia biomass contains high concentrations of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium, and decomposes rapidly. This has led to tremendous impacts on yields of maize and other high value crops such as […]

Legumes Improve Maize Yields and Income in Semi-Arid Kenya

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A study was conducted by ICRAF to evaluate the effect of annual and perennial legumes on soil fertility, cereal yields and economic returns. The study evaluated six cropping systems: (1) continuous sole maize, (2) maize rotated with short-duration legume, cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. Walp.), (3) maize rotated with long-duration legume, pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan L. Millsp.), (4) […]

Traditional Crop Varieties Reduce Pest and Disease Damage

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Local crop varietal diversity provides farmers with an important strategy for reducing pest and disease damage.  Success is also dependent on their local knowledge and ability to utilize this diversity appropriately against different threats. On farm experiments, performed across a range of four sites in different agro-ecological areas showed that an increase in the diversity […]

Cover Crops in Hillside Agriculture: Farmer Innovation with Mucuna

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Cover crops have received considerable attention as a approach in increasing productivity and sustainability in agricultural systems in the developing world. The velvetbean (Mucuna pruriens) is particularly important amongst cover crops because it is widely planted, reasonably tolerant to a number of stresses, prolific in its leaf litter, and even used as a minor crop, despite […]

Benefits of Diversification Vary with Exposure to Different Climate Risks in Peninsular India

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In three village of peninsular India, exposure to different climate risks is a major determinant in the benefits gained by small scale farmers by diversification strategies. Most farmers are risk averse and diversify their cropping activities, although farm size plays a much greater role in decisions to diversify than risk aversion. Crop diversification was found […]

Product Diversification and Attitudes Toward Risk in Agricultural Production

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This study looks at small scale farmers in the Indian Semi-Arid Tropics and measures of farmer specific risk attitudes to estimate the opportunity costs of diversification. Through modeling, they try to estimate which farm production choices were positively correlated with a farmer’s level of risk aversion.    An index was created categorizing individuals into risk-averse classes, […]

Cover Crops and Green Manure Boosts Maize Yields

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In Santa Catarina, Brazil, extension service EPAGRI works with more than 38000  farmers to improve soil and water conservation in over 60 micro-watersheds using contour grass barriers, contour ploughing and green manures. Sixty different cover crop species have been tested, including leguminous plants (velvetbean, jackbean, lablab, cowpeas, vetches, crotalarias) and non-legumes (oats, turnips). These are […]