An analysis of field survey results and a conceptual model of the factors that influence cropping and fallowing practices on small farms in Brazil. A multi-fallow cultivation system that used rice, corn and bitter manioc in various relay-intercropping combinations was the most common cultivation practice observed.
Spate irrigation is a traditional water diversion and spreading technology under which seasonal floods of short duration – springing from the rainfall-rich highlands – are diverted from ephemeral rivers (wadis) to irrigate cascades of leveled and bunded fields in the coastal plains. Floodwater is distributed from field to field: when a field is completely flooded, water is conveyed to the immediate downstream field by breaching one of the bunds. This process continues until all the water is used up.
Mid-season drainage involves the removal of surface flood water from the rice crop for about seven days towards the end of tillering. It involves ridge and furrow cultivation technology, where some moisture still exists in the soil even after the toe furrow is drained. Mid-season drainage reduces methane emissions of paddy fields, with reductions ranging from 7 to 95%.
Native trees, shrubs and grasses planted through participatory action. One part of the agave is planted in continuous lines to create a green wall to control soil and water runoff and the other part is planted in staggered. In addition, other native plants are planted between the lines of agave, to be used as food, fodder and/or medicinal products.
Organic fertilizer is applied to the fields to enhance productivity by increasing the level of organic matter in the soil (humus), which stimulates soil biological activity and improves soil structure, water infiltration and retention, and nutrient storage. The most commonly used organic fertilizers include compost using straw pen manure with litter or household waste.
Application of fine-grained charcoal as an amendment to improve soil quality and mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from croplands. As a soil amendment, biochar can favour long-term stabilisation of carbon stocks, serving as a net withdrawal of atmospheric carbon dioxide. From an agronomic point of view, high organic carbon input from biochar can enhance the nutrient and water retention capacity of the amended soil, reducing the total fertilizer requirements.
The technology makes use of red worms to process fresh manure filled into a trench to improve soil fertility. To process the manure, a trench is prepared and filled with fresh manure and 5 kg of worms, which feed on the manure and process it. Within 20-25 days bio-humus is produced and then separated from the worms by using a metal mesh, and the activity can be repeated anew. The produced bio-humus is used as an organic fertilizer for vegetable production. Application norms are 2.5-5 tons of bio-humus per hectare.
Planting pits are filled with organic vegetative material mixed with decomposing manure to create a reservoir of nutrients for a banana plantation. Each pit is dug close to a banana stand and is filled with chopped banana stems, a layer of manure covered with mulch to prevent excessive evaporation of moisture, and a top layer of soil. The main objective is to improve soil fertility, reduce soil erosion, improve moisture infiltration and retention, and enable the plantation to withstand the dry months.
By taking advantage of the natural process of decomposition of organic matter by microorganisms, compost is produced from raw materials such as weeds and bio-waste available on the farm. The raw materials are shredded and sprayed with a mixture of one tablespoon of forest soil and one tablespoon of sugar/molasses in one liter of water to hasten decomposition.
Seed priming and microfertilization are two agronomic measures to increase soil fertility and increase crop harvests in semi-arid drylands. Seed priming consists of soaking seeds for 8 hours prior to sowing, and microfertilization is the application of small amounts of mineral fertilizer to the planting hole.
Strip tillage is a cropping system for maize which reduces the reworking of the soil to the stripes, in which the seeds are planted. Strip tillage is a mixture between no tillage and conventional agriculture. Instead of ploughing and harrowing, a special rotary tiller including a grubber is used; it is used to avoid soil erosion or for economic reasons. The reworking of the soil, manuring, seeding and applying of herbicides can be done at once.
Maintenance of continuous soil cover; alternating crops and cover crops as a practice to improve soil quality and reduce diffuse agricultural water pollution. Continuous cover cropping has been promoted as an agro-environmental measure to extend sustainable land management and reduce diffuse water pollution. The type of crop species depends on the crop succession. Compared with systems that do not use cover crops, continuous soil cover provides long-term agronomical and environmental benefits due to a reduction of negative impacts on agro-ecosystems.
Growing crops (or pastures) without disturbing the soil through tillage; direct seeding/planting and residue management (partial soil cover). No till technology reduces soil erosion and soil compaction while conserving water in the soil. It also makes optimum use of scarce and low rainfall to stabilise/increase crop yields.
Leaving crop residues on the soil surface and subsequent planting through the mulch. The mulch layer has several important functions: it helps to increase and maintain water stored in the soil, reduces soil erosion, contributes to improve soil fertility and it efficiently controls weeds by hindering their growth and preventing weeds from producing seeds.
Mulching involves spreading waste crop after harvesting. Covering the soil with mulch protects it against wind and water erosion and provides nutrients which have a positive effect on yields and food security. Mulching also helps to improve the infiltration of water and reduce the evaporation of moisture from the soil.
Integrated production and pest management (IPPM) curbs environmental degradation caused by current farming practices (intensive and extensive), reducing the negative impact of pesticides on the environment and on human health. IPPM works with all available techniques for combatting pests, while eliminating or keeping pesticide use at economically justified levels.
Use of biological agents (various types of symbiotic mycorrhizae fungi) as plant salt tolerance facilitators and soil amendments. The technology is applied as an effective agronomic measure to increase plant salt tolerance, reduce soil-borne diseases that affect plant roots, and increase of water and nutrient absorption.
Using environmentally friendly phyto-pesticides, made from natural plant extracts to help combat pests and diseases. Plant extracts include potatoes, onions or tomato stalks, garlic, pepper, dandelion, common wormwood and thorn apple extracts.
Ecological engineering is aimed primarily at the regulation of pest species, through the provision of habitats for their natural enemies, thereby increasing biodiversity. Other ecosystem services, such as pollination and cultural services, may simultaneously be enhanced by using the same measures.
Trees are planted at strategic locations; indigenous trees – “wildlings", which are considered endangered species, were preserved. Trees serve as shelter/habitat for wildlife species such as birds and can absorb carbon from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Trees also provide an aesthetic value as well as temporary shade for workers.
A soil bund is a structural measure with an embankment of soil or stones, or soil and stones, constructed along the contour and stabilized with vegetative measures, such as grass and fodder trees. The height of the bunds depends on the availability of stones. Bunds reduce the velocity of runoff and soil erosion, retain water behind the bund and support water infiltration. It further helps in ground water recharging.
Earth-banked terraces are constructed by carefully removing a superficial soil layer from one part of a field, concentrating it on the lower end of that field in order to reduce slope gradient and length. Another terrace is created directly downslope to form a cascade of terraces. The earth-banked terraces reduce flooding, damage to infrastructure and siltation of water reservoirs, while maintaining (or slightly increasing) crop productivity. This is achieved by reducing runoff, soil erosion and hydraulic connectivity through a decreased slope gradient and increased vegetation cover.
Stone lines are constructed along the contours to slow down the speed of runoff, reduce soil erosion, and enhance water infiltration. In addition, the stone barrier blocks and settles down the sediments transported from the upper slopes. Stone constructions are often used to rehabilitate eroded and abandoned land.
Rockwall terracing refers to the piling of stones or rocks along contour lines to reduce soil erosion in hilly areas. Terraces are built to reduce soil erosion and ease land preparation through the removal of naturally-present rocks in the cultivated area. It also contributes to the partial arrangement and diversification of land use. The technology is a traditional practice in the Philippines.
Reshaping unproductive land into a series of levelled, gently-sloping platforms to create conditions suitable for cultivation and prevent accelerated erosion. Terrace construction was identified as an effective measure in degraded watershed areas to control runoff and decrease [the effects of] flash floods, increase water infiltration, and create opportunities for income from crop cultivation in the terraces.