Woody Amendments for Sudano-Sahelian Agriculture
With or without the application of mineral fertilizers, managing soil organic matter (SOM) is considered a cornerstone for sustainable farming. SOM is a crucial issue in Sub Saharan Africa, especially in arid to semi-arid regions were permanent crop cultivation and insufficient fallow periods lead to SOM depletion. This puts severe threats on soil fertility maintenance in the near future. Organic fertilization is one of the main options for such management but it is often limited by the availability or quality of organic resources. Woody residues from tree pruning or shrubs coppicing may represent a potential organic resource with limited competition for their use as fuel or forage, and could thus represent an alternative for amending soil.
Soil amendment with woody residues has been experimentally explored over the past 20 years and spectacular effects on crop yields have been reported. Still many questions about processes and methods need to be answered. The WASSA project proposes to address these issues through integrated studies, performed in connection with current woody amendments trials running through projects located in Burkina Faso and Senegal.
The poster Can woody plants management provide soil amendments to enhance agroecosystem productivity and resilience in West Africa? was presented at the Climate-Smart Agriculture Conference at Montpellier in March 2015. It provides an overview of the WASSA project on-going research activities.
A PhD project started in 2013 and there are now several opportunities for doing a MSc thesis subject in Burkina Faso on soil degradation and restoration at the chairgroup of Farming Systems Ecology (FSE) of Wageningen University in The Netherlands. Within these subjects you can focus on one or more relevant fields like agroecology, agroforestry, soil sciences, social sciences,GIS, and modelling. Contact us for more information and intenship opportunities during 2015 and 2016!