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Focus on... Soils

Global food security is dependent on soils which have existed for millennia but, in recent decades, have deteriorated rapidly. They are complex and varied in their characteristics and yet are often poorly understood and inadequately managed. In a changing climate, the precarious health of many soils, particularly in the tropics, hangs in the balance.

Managing and rehabilitating soils is the focus for the range of articles featured in this edition of New Agriculturist, reporting on initiatives to conserve and maintain the fragile soils of Peru, Burkina Faso, India, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, amongst others.

Several reports highlight the importance of involving communities in understanding and protecting the land they depend upon, and encouraging the successful adoption of a variety of techniques and measures to better manage their soils. Another article emphasises the vital role of soils in storing carbon. Evidence of the benefits achieved from protecting and conserving soils is demonstrated in the greening of the Sahel, where we focus on work in Burkina Faso.

Urea application - making a deeper impact

Urea application - making a deeper impact

In the last three years, over 2 million Bangladeshi rice farmers have abandoned broadcasting of fertiliser in favour of urea deep placement (UDP), a technique that has increased their yields while reducing their fertiliser costs.

Date published: November 2010

Andean soils keep carbon out of the atmosphere

Andean soils keep carbon out of the atmosphere

In the Peruvian Andes, scientists from the International Potato Center and their Brazilian partners have employed advanced tests to more precisely understand the role of soils in the carbon cycle, and how they are being affected by human activity.

Date published: November 2010

Reversing desertification with livestock in Zimbabwe

Reversing desertification with livestock in Zimbabwe

Overgrazing by livestock is a major cause of desertification, but the adoption of 'holistic' grazing management in parts of Zimbabwe has seen desertification reversed on over 2,500 hectares of degraded land.

Date published: November 2010

Helping legumes become Africa's nitrogen factories

Helping legumes become Africa's nitrogen factories

The natural ability to fix nitrogen makes grain legumes an important crop for smallholders and a key to integrated soil fertility management. In Africa, a major new project is getting to the heart of the complex interaction that makes nitrogen fixation work, and finding ways to make it work better.

Date published: November 2010

Ethiopia: local solutions to a global problem

Ethiopia: local solutions to a global problem

To document and share valuable local knowledge about better soil and water management, a global network of soil and water conservation specialists has developed a framework to collect and share successful techniques and agricultural practices in partnership with extension workers, planners and policymakers.

Date published: November 2010

The potential of potash

The potential of potash

Across the black soils of central and southern India, rainfed agriculture supports the production of a variety of crops. With high clay content, these soils require much higher potassium levels to meet plant needs, compared to lighter texture soils, such as those that occur in the northern part of India.

Date published: November 2010

Rehabilitation of Burkina's fragile soils

Rehabilitation of Burkina's fragile soils

Much of Burkina Faso's fragile soils are under stress. However, with continuing support from various national and international organisations, over 200,000 hectares have been 're-greened' by farmers across the Central Plateau.

Date published: November 2010

 

 

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