Forage and Fallows Phase IV

Lead Organization:

Grupo Yanapai (international) and Colorado State University (domestic)

Partner Organizations:

World Neighbors, INIA, and farmers and leaders in communities of Huahuanca, Rangra, Tizo, and Quilcas (Junín); Pacchomolinos, Santa Cruz, and Ccasapata (Huancavelica), and Cruzccasa, Jacaspampa, and Urubamba (Ayacucho)

Community of Practice:







The projects build upon fallows and other soil management strategies to restore soil health in Andean agriculture and seek to support smallholder livelihoods and resilience in the face of global changes.

Past research contributed to understanding soil fertility restoration dynamics in Andean fallows and pastures, informing work in developing and fine-tuning improved practices. The improved fallows previously co-designed with farmers fill a need in many Andean communities; however, it remains unclear who benefits most from these practices and what barriers exist for more widespread use. Other soil management strategies, including alternative nutrient inputs (e.g., bioles, human urine, compost), intercropping, and perennial field margins (e.g., agroforestry, live barriers) hold great potential and have gained considerable interest but not been extensively evaluated. Much research has focused on short-term impacts of new/emerging management practices, while longer-term implications critical for evaluating the sustainability of these practices go largely unexamined. Recent findings emphasize the importance of soil gradients in determining the productivity of improved fallows. Further evaluation is required to best adapt new management options to unique soil contexts.

Concerning multifunctionality of agricultural landscapes, the teams’ landscape assessment of ecosystem services and production in three High Andean communities delivered important insights on land use interactions and drivers of land use planning, with important implications for community planning and resource management. Landscape assessments in the previous phases demonstrated the wide variety of outcomes for land uses across three countries and the importance of field edge vegetation type in affecting soil biological health as well as the importance of forage production. Examining social drivers generated important awareness of migration and demographic shifts in determining land use and soil management linked to diversified livelihood portfolios within communities and differences in land use intensification across communities and regions. Following up on these trends using streamlined and participatory land use assessment across a number of community contexts will lead to new insights for community planning and long-term sustainability of Andean landscapes.

A wealth of opportunities has emerged for coordinating both Peruvian university and INIA and Andean regional actors such as the CoP’s Soils and Landscapes thematic group. Such allows for interaction with relatively long-lived projects that are working at large spatial scales while retaining participation and awareness of plot-level soils and production.

Grant Aims:

The overall goal is to build the capacity of smallholder farmers and their collective organizations to maintain and improve soil health and associated ecosystem services as a basis for sustainable livelihoods at both plot and landscape scales.

Specifically, the project seeks to:

  1. Deepen the participatory approach by promoting farmer-farmer exchanges and networks that create preconditions for wider, more viral scaling of improved fallow options and farmer commitments to soil health.
  2. Accompany research and scaling activities with efforts to assess fit between innovative practices and social, economic, and biophysical assets of different households and their inclination to participate.
  3. Build on work in previous phases to streamline assessment of ecosystem services and make results more relevant to farm/community settings affected by local decision makers. In this way, land use assessments can best inform community planning and governance to better confront soil degradation, land use change, and climate change threats.

A second goal is to link local-level findings to regional initiatives such as those undertaken by subnational government actors in Peru (e.g., conservation areas, reservas paisajisticas).

Specifically, the project seeks to:

  1. Increase capacity of regional university and other research actors to carry out and prioritize actions at landscape scale that conserve ecosystem services of high Andean soils and landscapes.
  2. Capitalize on new linkage to INIA research teams in Junin and Ayacucho wher team has already influenced planning of more participatory research with communities; seize on potential to create long-term station experiments on crop rotations and fallows that support farmer innovations.
  3. Share findings and build capacity by widely sharing tools and methodologies via publication and sharing results from plot and landscape scales in various national and international forums, including CoP’s Soils and Landscapes thematic working group.

Outputs and Outcomes:

Grant Aim 1

  • Implement participatory trials and demonstration plots on improved fallows and associated management options to support long-term fertility and productivity of soils in traditional crop rotations
  • Bank developed of agroecological evidence-based soil management technologies appropriate to specific biophysical and socioeconomic contexts in the Andes
  • Potential long-term implications better understood of different soil management options for soil health and productivity
  • Modeled nutrient and soil organic carbon budgets created for options based on actual practices and soil amendments, as well analysis of cut forages, and crop harvests from non-fallow phases
  • Regional dissemination of work through farmer workshops and research networks, cross-community exchanges, and presentations at local universities and other relevant fora in the Andes
  • Impact extending beyond Andean region and informing agroecological innovations more globally through regional and international sharing of lessons learned via presentations at international meetings and peer-reviewed journal articles
  • At local level, participatory trials, capacity building for farmer-led research strengthening local knowledge, and ability of communities to better address agricultural challenges emphasized through research and experimentation beyond project’s duration
  • Inclusive organizational backbone for farmer-to-farmer dissemination of forage-based fallows created to empower farmers to promote soil health and agroecological transitions
  • Support continued around capacity building at local universities by advising students, supporting thesis research, and providing more general background on soils and AE

Grant Aim 2

  • Continued examination of biophysical, socioeconomic, and cultural drivers of landscape change in communities considered previously
  • Information used to work with local stakeholders to develop community landscape plans to inform future land use and large-scale soil management decisions
  • Scaled-back landscape assessment in new regions of Ayacucho and Huancavelica conducted to support local interest and build capacity on soil health and ecosystem service monitoring and assessment
  • More formalized landscape plans and community maps developed, along with capacity built and policy informed at multiple scales by interacting with multiple stakeholders (e.g., universities, national research organizations, conservation groups, policymakers) in each region
  • Learning facilitated in other regions globally facing similar issues through findings shared in international venues (conferences, journal articles) facilitating learning in other regions globally