Conservation and Restoration of Soil Fertility in Cultivated Lands in the Donsin Watershed


Project Code:

Start Date:
May 1996

End Date:
July 1997

CRSP Phase:
Phase 1

Not Available



Lead University:

Other Partners:
INERA; Tuskegee University; Institut du Developpement Rurale, University of Ouagadougou

Principal Investigator(s):
Daniel McCracken

Co-Principal Investigator(s):


The soils of Donsin are poor in organic matter and extremely vulnerable to degradation: the condition of the soils is one of the most severe constraints on agricultural productivity. Customary methods of soil restoration, which relied on leaving exhausted land fallow for periods ranging between ten and thirty years, are no longer feasible because cultivation is expanding into all available arable land, to meet the food needs of a growing population.

Increasing pressure from increasing livestock populations also limit the extent to

which crop residues can be recycled into the soil, as they are mostly consumed by animals during the dry season, when forage becomes scarce. Livestock husbandry plays a very important role in household economy as the most common, locally available source of cash income, and can also serve soil conservation efforts by providing manure to improve fertility

There is a need for identifying feasible

strategies to maintain soil fertility by introduction of composting techniques and soil-improving crops that can contribute to increasing soil productivity, while also addressing the growing food needs of the local population on a sustainable basis.


1. To evaluate local strategies of crop management and crop residue utilization in terms of their effect on soil fertility and nutrient recycling. 2. To evaluate soil and crop responses to improved strategies, including the effect of "zai" on soil fertility and biodiversity restoration. 3. To assess economic feasibility of strategies and demonstrate those that deemed economically feasible and effective in conserving and improving natural resources.


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