YAP Proposal #378: Soil carbon sequestration through organic fertilizers (Msafiri Mkonda, Tanzania)

 

MMsafiriMkonday name is Msafiri Mkonda and I am a PhD student from Tanzania.

Introduction

Drought affects soil moisture content and nutrient flow required for crop production in most sub-Saharan African countries. More than 60% of African’s rural population is involved in agriculture but it still forms a quarter of the world’s hungry people.

Tanzania experiences temporal and spatial rainfall variability where it is predicted to increase in areas with bimodal rainfall while decreasing in areas with unimodal rainfall. Poor agronomic practices such as monoculture and conventional tillage have immensely contributed to increased degradation of soil fertility.

This degradation is more pronounced in semi-arid areas where soil replenishment is very weak due to poor microbial activities. Farming is more vulnerable in these areas because it is rain fed in nature.

Objective

This study aims to assess the accumulation of soil organic carbon in the soil and make its utilization a good preposition for improving the production of major food crops i.e. maize, sorghum and beans aiming at improving food security. Apart from improving soil fertility, accumulated soil carbon is used to sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide and fix it in the soil as well as conserving soil moisture.

All these aspects have great potential contribution to crop yields and food security.  Therefore, soil organic management practices will be done to restore moisture and facilitate nutrient flow.

Motivation

The driving motive to address the problem is to help poor people in rural areas who are starving because of hunger. Their farms are poor in terms of soil fertility and they cannot afford inorganic fertilizer to raise the fertility level of their farms.

In connection to that, drought caused by climate change impacts has exacerbated the situation to the worst. Thus, organic fertilization can improve soil fertility and carbon sequestration (i.e. soil carbon) at a cheap price compared to inorganic fertilization.

What I have done

I have been involved in agriculture since my primary education. I, along with my family members, have been collecting residues from maize and decomposing them in a hole. The amount of compost depends on the amount of materials buried. During the rainy season, we use the decomposed organic materials as fertilizer and they helped to increase crop yields.

Means to succeed

Creation of awareness and enthusiasm will be the tool to increase the rate of adoption of organic fertilizers. We will teach simple concepts on how organic fertilization is cheap and significant to increase crop yields. Then, we can form some groups in rural areas to emphasize the move.

How to undertake the professional part

Rainfall and temperature data will be collected from the Tanzania Meteorological Agency and local meteorological stations, while socio-economic data will be collected in the study area through a questionnaire survey, key informant interview, workshop and focus group discussion.

Field soil sampling to a depth of <20cm will be taken for laboratory analysis focusing on soil carbon, soil Olsen P and related variables. Two types of soil samples will be collected. The first will be taken from the area where organic manures are applied and the second where organic manures are not applied in order to determine the physical and chemical properties of the soil.

An ANOVA analysis of different variables will be performed by GENSTAT v.14 software. Soil carbon will be analyzed following the Walkley-Black Method, Markov model and SPSS v.20 will analyze rainfall data and other socio-economic data. This study aims to improve crop production and food security.

How to use the USD $5000

$1000 US dollars to create of awareness.
$2000 US dollars for stakeholder meeting group formation and field practicums.
$1500 US dollars for travel and accommodation.
$500 US dollars for demonstration of organic fertilization.

 

Blogpost and picture submitted by Msafiri Mkonda (Tanzania) – msamkonda81[at]yahoo.co.uk

The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.


This post is published as proposal #378 of “YAP” – our “Youth Agripreneur Project”.

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