Optimising Nutrient Cycles to Improve Food Security in Smallholder Farming Families—A Case Study from Banana-Coffee-Based Farming in the Kagera Region, NW Tanzania

Reetsch, Anika, Schwärzel, Kai, Dornack, Christina, Stephene, Shadrack and Feger, Karl-Heinz, (2020). Optimising Nutrient Cycles to Improve Food Security in Smallholder Farming Families—A Case Study from Banana-Coffee-Based Farming in the Kagera Region, NW Tanzania. Sustainability, 12(21), 1-34

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  • Sub-type Journal article
    Author Reetsch, Anika
    Schwärzel, Kai
    Dornack, Christina
    Stephene, Shadrack
    Feger, Karl-Heinz
    Title Optimising Nutrient Cycles to Improve Food Security in Smallholder Farming Families—A Case Study from Banana-Coffee-Based Farming in the Kagera Region, NW Tanzania
    Appearing in Sustainability
    Volume 12
    Issue No. 21
    Publication Date 2020-11-02
    Place of Publication Basel, Switzerland
    Publisher MDPI
    Start page 1
    End page 34
    Language eng
    Abstract In East Africa, soil nutrient depletion and low yields jeopardise the food security of smallholder farming families and exacerbate poverty. The main reasons for the depletion of soil nutrients are overuse due to population growth, limited land, and increasing uncertainty in agricultural production caused by climate change. This study aims to analyse and optimise nutrient flows and stocks in the homegardens of smallholder banana-coffee-based farming systems in the Kagera region in NW Tanzania. The plant nutrients nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) in plant-based biomass and organic farm waste are under investigation. We used data from a farm household survey (150 households) and from focus group discussions with 22 trainers who had been training about 750 farm households in sustainable land management (SLM) at a local farmer field school. In total, we identified six farm household types and calculated a nutrient balance (NB) for the homegardens of each household type. The NB was calculated for the following five management scenarios: S0: business as usual; S1: the use of 80% of the available human urine; S2: the incorporation of 0.5 t yr−1 of the herbaceous legume species Crotalaria grahamiana into the soil; S3: the production of 5 m3 yr−1 CaSa-compost (human excreta and biochar) and its application on 600 m2 land; and S4: a combination of S1, S2, and S3. The results show that the NB varies considerably depending on whether farmers have implemented the SLM training, apply nutrient-preserving manure collection and storage methods, and purchase fodder (imported nutrients), or whether they do not collect manure or do not purchase fodder. Trained farm households are more likely to have a positive NB than untrained households because they have already improved the nutrient management of their farms through the successful implementation of SLM practices. Untrained households would improve the NB in their homegardens under all management scenarios. However, the NB depends on labour-intensive manure collection and compost production, labour shortages, prolonged dry seasons, and socio-economic imbalances. As long as these constraints remain, nutrient deficiencies will not be overcome with mineral fertilisers alone, because soils have to be further enriched with organic matter first. In this paper, we also emphasise the importance of the system boundary, because only a complete NB can give an estimate of actual nutrient removal and the resulting nutrient demand (including removals by fodder and trees). Further improvements in the SLM training may be achieved by (i) measuring the current nutrient status of soils, (ii) analysing the need for the coexistence of free-range livestock on the grassland and zero-grazing in trained households, and (iii) conducting an in-depth analysis of the socio-economic differences between successful and unsuccessful households. In conclusion, if smallholder farmers were to integrate further improved SLM training and optimised nutrient management (S1 to S4), we assume that the NB would turn positive. Last but not least, the SLM training by the farmer field school may serve as a best-practice example for training and policy recommendations made by government institutions.
    UNBIS Thesaurus AGROFORESTRY
    FOOD SECURITY
    Keyword Sustainable land management
    Soil fertility management
    Farm waste management
    Nutrient balances
    Human urine
    Legume
    Biochar
    CaSa-compost
    Copyright Holder The Authors
    Copyright Year 2020
    Copyright type Creative commons
    DOI 10.3390/su12219105
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    Created: Wed, 25 Nov 2020, 20:18:34 JST by Eric Siegmund on behalf of UNU FLORES