Annual Report for the Soil Science Group 2007-2008
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Conservation Farming (CF) in Zambia (often also called Conservation Agriculture (CA)) involves several key practices: dry-season land preparation using minimum tillage systems using a small basin approach; no burning of crop residue from the prior harvest but surface residue retention in the basin; planting and input application in fixed basins; and nitrogen-fixing crop rotations. CF is hypothesized to be a better farming system than the traditional chitemene system of slash-and-burn cultivation that has contributed to accelerated rates of soil erosion and degradation within the watershed due to shorter fallow periods and longer cropping cycles caused by increased population pressures.
The main Goal of the soil science group is to investigate (i) under which environmental conditions CF works best, (ii) what are the reasons for better yields; (iii) what types of organic amendments (qualities) are best for improving production potential under CF; and (iv) how long it takes until CF achieves its greatest yield potential under farmer conditions.