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by season. Studies in experimental plots in Malawi showed that the legumes increased maize yields by 116%.
Although that strategy looks great on paper, poor farmers cannot generally give up much of their limited land to grow legumes, which require extra labour. So, many of the leguminous plants are underperforming in the field. On the average smallholding in Africa, they often fix less than 8 michael kors outlet jersey kg N ha1 per year.
Ken Giller, an agronomist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, is hoping to tackle these problems through a four year research programme called N2 Africa, which he helped to start with $22 million from the Bill Melinda Gates Foundation and the Howard G. Buffet Foundation. The project aims to breed edible legumes with increased yields and better nitrogen fixing ability, and to help spread legume crops across Malawi and seven other African nations.
The FAO is promoting other green ways of raising yields, in particular an approach called conservation agriculture, which involves covering fields with mulch and not tilling the soil. The FAO says that this improves soil fertility while reducing erosion and labour. In June 2011, the FAO launched a programme called Save and Grow, currently funded at around $7 million per year, which over the next 15 years aims to promote research, training and resources for this type of agriculture. But critics argue that conservation agriculture can actually decrease yields and that few farmers in sub Saharan Africa are willing to use these techniques. The promotion of conservation agriculture "is wholly misplaced", says Giller.
In experimental fields outside Lilongwe in Malawi, researchers are studying another type of green approach as part of an ICRAF project run by Gudeta Sileshi, an agricultural scientist at the Chitedze Agricultural Research Station. At the far end of one field, mature Faidherbia albida trees stand some 4 metres high, their leafless branches feathery against the sky. Smaller, younger trees dot michael kors outlet black friday
the fields. They are all 'fertilizer trees', which fix nitrogen and improve the nitrogen content of the soil. Past agricultural improvement michael kors factory outlet bags schemes have tried unsuccessfully to sell the idea of these trees to African farmers, but there is renewed interest from researchers michael kors bags calgary outlet
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