Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Fertiliser trees prove a hit in southern Africa

According to a study by ICRAF, thousands of smallholder farmers in southern Africa are adopting fast-growing trees and shrubs to fertilise their fields naturally, for improved yields and incomes. Fertiliser trees, such as the acacia tree, capture nitrogen from the air and transfer it to the soil in a process known as nitrogen-fixing. This restores nutrients and increases crop productivity, with the potential to double or even triple harvests. They also improve water efficiency on farms and help prevent soil erosion. "Four hundred thousand farmers in southern Africa [Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe] are growing the trees to boost their farm yields, and there are still millions of resource-poor smallholders who could benefit from them," said Oluyede Ajayi, lead author of the study and a senior scientist at ICRAF. Link to full text available here.

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