We discuss and comment on the role agriculture will play in the containment of the CO2 problem and address protocols for terraforming the planet Earth.
A model farm template is imagined as the central methodology. A broad range of timely science news and other topics of interest are commented on.
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Malawi's Bountiful Harvests and Healthier Children
Again the future is now. These are simple ideas that can be accessed
by anyone with a cell phone. Boots on the ground have no difficulty
sharing the underlying knowledge today and people are responding.
And what a thousand can do today a million can do next year.
It is humbling to understand that tossing out a successful idea can
today reach everyone where everyone is a scientist quite able to try
out an idea to see if it will work. it can affect right down to the
least likely. All of Africa is singing this song as is the rest of
It also reminds just how much real productivity has been locked up in
pure ignorance. That is no longer an excuse.
harvests and healthier children
Through research led
by Michigan State University, crop yields have increased
dramatically. The children of Ekwendi, Malawi, also have gained
weight and are taller. These improvements bring smiles to Sieglinde
Snapp, MSU ecologist, and other researchers who have worked in Malawi
for many years.
Snapp, a crop and soil
scientist at MSU's Kellogg Biological Station, shared the secrets of
the initiative's success at the annual meeting of the American
Association for the Advancement of Science Feb. 14-18 in Boston.
One of the focal
points of her research has been improvements in crop diversity and
soil health, which have increased yields. Snapp has worked with
local scientists, hospital staff and extension workers to rotate
cereal grains with bushy legumes, which sparks soil improvement
without relying solely on fertilizers.
simulations, long-term field trials and on-farm experimentation
highlight which combinations of legumes, cereals and soil management
are best at using resources efficiently. Rotating corn with pigeon
pea mixtures (a shrubby legume) keeps the soil from being stripped of
nutrients, such as nitrogen, while increasing nutrient-rich grain
action research combined with access to new seeds of bushy food
legumes has helped spread a mantle of green across the countryside
and help achieve greater food security," Snapp said. "There
have been notable gains in dietary diversity and increased child
health in hundreds of farm communities of Northern Malawi - a truly
Malawi farmers, many
of whom are women, also play a critical role in the program's
success. They have embraced the initiative and constantly look to
improve their efforts through testing of crop rotations,
nutrient-enriched legumes, drought-tolerant crops and staple cereals.
Working together, the entire team will help cope with a changing
world, Snapp added.
The results speak for
+ Corn yields
increased from 50 to 200 percent, when comparing rotating
crops to monoculture.
+ Soil improvement
supported reduced fertilizer use and a 20 percent improvement in
yield stability, supporting communities' ability to cope with
+ Children's weight
and height have climbed and now meet international norms for healthy
children. The biggest gains were found in villages where the
program has been going on the longest.
Along with Snapp's
research, MSU is helping villagers in Malawi improve their milk
production. Learn more here