Joy in Nigeria grows different types of crops using sustainable agricultural techniques taught by Tearfund partner Rurcon.

From: Farming for the future – Footsteps 110

Strategies farmers can use to maintain healthy ecosystems and productive farms

New technologies will only be successful if they are adapted to local conditions. Rather than technicians providing farmers with ready-made solutions that may or may not work, on-farm trials allow farmers to experiment and find solutions to their own, specific problems.

Testing different levels of mulch in Ethiopia. Photo: Louise Thomas/Tearfund

Testing different levels of mulch in Ethiopia. Photo: Louise Thomas/Tearfund

This has many benefits: 

Trials can be carried out individually or in a group. 

Non-field-based experiments, such as storage methods or livestock management, also follow the same basic guidelines. Start on a small scale, compare options with normal practice, select treatments, take measurements and evaluate the results. 

Diagram of a mulching experiment across four plots. Illustration: Wingfinger

A mulching experiment

Aim: to test the effect of different levels of mulch on weed growth and crop yield. 

Sow the same crop variety across all four plots at the same time, using the same sowing technique. The only change across the plots should be the level of mulch. Observe the crop for signs of moisture stress, water-logging, pests and diseases. Measure crop yield and weed density. Evaluate the results.

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