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Appropriate technologies could negate impacts of climate change

With improved crop, soil and water management practices, farmers are able to significantly increase their yields (ICRISAT)
With improved crop, soil and water management practices, farmers are able to significantly increase their yields
ICRISAT

Improved use of fertilisers, rainwater harvesting and mulching could almost double crops yields, helping to counter the effects of climate change, a study by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has found. "The impact of temperature increases on farm yields from low-input agricultural systems, typical of semi-arid tropics, is likely to be minimal compared to other factors such as low and declining soil fertility, poor weed control and lack of water conservation practices," explains Dr Peter Cooper, a senior ICRISAT scientist. "These will continue to provide overriding constraints to crop growth and yields."

Even with a 3°C temperature increase, the adoption of improved crop, soil and water management practices result in substantially higher yields than farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and India are currently obtaining, the study discovered. In Makindu, eastern Kenya, an area already experiencing extreme weather shocks, scientists found that by using tied ridging and mulching, farmers were able to increase and retain water in the soil for longer, increasing their yields. "By promoting the use of commonly available methods of soil fertility management and water conservation, we find that governments can help farmers to avert crop failure and famines, as well as prepare farmers to better cope with climate change impacts," says Cooper.

Date published: March 2010

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