LTRA-8: Improving soil quality and crop productivity through CAPS in West Africa


Project Code:

Start Date:

End Date:

CRSP Phase:
Phase 4




Lead University:

Other Partners:
Savanna Agricultural Research Institute, Wa Polytechnic; Institut d'Economie Rurale du Mali

Principal Investigator(s):
P.V. Vara Prasad

Co-Principal Investigator(s):
Scott Staggenborg, Timothy Dalton, Kevin Dhuyvetter, Charles Rice, DeAnn Presley, Karen Garrett, Ari Jumponnen, Nina Lilja, J.Naab, I.Yahaya, S. Seini, P.H. Momori, M. Doumbia, K. Traore, P. Sissoko, A. Berthe, O. Samake


For West African countries such as Ghana and Mali, investment in agriculture is critical to reduce poverty and stimulate economic growth. Improved soil quality and water retention can be achieved through reduced tillage, perennial ground cover, and integrated nutrient, water, and pest management practices. This project focuses on increasing food security by raising the incomes of small-scale farm households dependent on rain-fed agriculture. Studies include sustainable CAPS that improve soil quality, water capture, water-use efficiency, crop productivity, ecosystem services, and efficient use of farm inputs and labor. The project answers some of the critical questions associated with CAPS for resource-poor small-scale farmers: Which CAPS can positively contribute to productivity, address needs of farmers and under what specific conditions? What are positive and negative aspects of CAPS in both the short and long term? Can CAPS be economically beneficial in short run, can they be adopted by small-scale farmers, and do preconditions for adoptions exist? Which types of processes are most efficient in assessing CAPS with farmers and extending them to a larger scale?


1. Evaluate local conservation agriculture practices that are based on the principles of minimum tillage, direct seeding into residues, retention of crop residue, and incorporation of leguminous cover crops to improve soil quality, water use efficiency, and cropping system productivity and income. 2. Develop cropping systems (crop rotations and/or intercropping) that improve water use efficiency and nutrient use efficiency through integrated water [e.g., residue, seedbed type, ACN technologies (contour ridging)] and nutrient management practices (combination of organic and inorganic fertilizers). 3. Foster and advance rapid adoption of local CAPS and integrated crop, water, soil and nutrient management practices to improve system productivity, livelihoods and natural resources. 4. Calibrate, assess and use crop simulation models to predict the impact of individual conservation agriculture practices on system productivity, water use, soil carbon sequestration, and economic returns for the experimental sites as well as beyond the sites and across the region. 5. Strengthen capacity of scientists, extension agents, rural communities and farmers through training workshops and demonstrations to document and communicate the benefits of CAPS to facilitate access to inputs, equipment and markets to make conservation agriculture practices accessible and sustainable. 6. Capacity building of host country scientists through short-term training workshops and long-term training by providing graduate degrees (MS or PhD) in the United States and through initiating collaboration and networking group with scientists of other countries in the region.


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