Hillside Soil

Lead Organization:

The Foundation for the Promotion and Investigation of Andean Products PROINPA

Community of Practice:

Andes

Countries:

Bolivia

Duration:

11/2013—11/2016

Overview:

This project’s overall purpose is to help producer families in Anzaldo, Cochabamba, Bolivia, improve the resilience of their productive systems and livelihoods through participatory development of technological innovations that contribute to the restoration of Anzaldo soils’ health.  The most important crops in the area are wheat and potatoes, wheat being the main crop (60% the total production area). The area has low soil fertility, as farmers do not incorporate soil organic matter adequately either as manure or cover crops. Anzaldo is considered representative of many regions in the Andes and the results will potentially be applicable to thousands of families. The CCRP approved the inception phase of this project one year ago, which has allowed PROINPA to adjust and refine the project’s scope, objectives and approaches. PROINPA invested substantial efforts to ensure that the project’s design took into account Anzaldo’s institutional context, and incorporated the perspectives of farmers.  For that, it organized three workshops in the period between February and April, 2013 to map the landscape (crops, soil fertility, climate); gather the farmers’ views on their soil problems and their causes; identify soil characteristics and management in different eco-regions; analyze the management of cropping systems according to eco-regions; analyze livestock feed and manure production; describe the use of soil and any bioinputs; and analyze the cropping system, its use, transformation and marketing.  PROINPA also organized two consultations with experts in livestock and native pastures, who have extensive experience in managing forages, including the Forage Research Center (CIF).  The workshops and expert consultations have been complemented with interviews with authorities.

Grant Aims:

Validate in various contexts preliminary cover crop combinations that were chosen by farmers: vetch with oats and peas with barleyEstablish local seed supply system for vetch cover cropReduced tillage evaluated in a participatory mannerInsertion of the quinoa crop in the traditional rotation systemQuinoa seed production system in non-traditional regionsAnimal-drawn implement for the planting of quinoa and other grains (validated with CIFEMA)Strengthening of soil laboratory capacity at both the local and national level.

Outputs and Outcomes:

Lupin mangement – Farmers in three communities in the Anzaldo province of Bolivia evaluated technologies for the improved management of lupin including hilling. They found a significant yield increase (0.3 T/ ha increase) in plants with hilling due to increased soil aeration, weed management, and structural support so the plants do not fall over when it’s windy.Comparison of legume options – In a randomized block design undertaken in farmer fields in two hillside communities in Bolivia, the performance of lupin, vetch, pea and traditional fallow were compared in terms of contributing to soil fertility while they were still growing and before they had been harvested.  The nodulation, an indicator for nitrogen fixation, is much higher in lupin than the other two crops both in terms of quantity and weight, it was estimated that lupin fixes 37.48 Kgr N/ha/ year in comparison to 1.78 for vetch and 1.04 for pea, this is very different than results in more humid climates where pea and lupin provided similar results (OxC). Also, lupin produces significantly more biomass that drops to the ground, followed by vetch, then pea. The perception of the farmers in the participatory evaluation was that lupin is a good option to rotate with wheat in their larger commercial plots and vetch, as a forage species, would be better to plant in rotation with potato and/or maize in their smaller , more intensified plots used for home consumption.  Farmers (n-12, men and women) appreciated lupin because they can sell the grain, it had a lot of nodulation, and crops grow better a year after lupin stover is incorporated into the soil. They valued the vetch because it is a vigorous forage crop that is not weedy. They also valued pea because it provides food rich in protein. Leaving the fields in fallow, the traditional practice, was not evaluated favorably because weeds proliferated that could affect future crops.Vetch seed – Vetch is a highly regarded cover crop in the region of Anzaldo, Bolivia based on participatory evaluations done by PROINPA since 2013. Farmers appreciate it more than peas or native forrages  because it provides good groundcover, forage, nodulation (soil fertility) and doesn’t become a weed that can affect food crops. However, the seed price is inaccessible for farmers. The project investigated how farmers can grown their own vetch seed.  Although 42 farmers tried to produce vetch seed, only 7 farmers in 4 communities were able to produce 382 Kg of seed. For the others, delayed rains mean they had to plant late in the season and they ended up using the vetch as forage instead of for seedManure and stovers – Lupin has been shown to be an effective cover crop in increasing soil fertility when it is plowed into the soil at flowering. However, farmers have not utilized this technology because it seems wasteful to plow under a food crop. Thus this experimentation is around the lupin stover that is left after the crop has been harvested in 2 communities of the Anzaldo province of Bolivia.Lupin is a new crop to the area, but the normal practice (based on wheat and maize stovers) would be to either burn the stover in the field or use it for cooking fuel.  In a randomized block design undertaken in farmer fields in two hillside communities in Bolivia, there were significant improvements in potato and quinoa yields in both communities when manure and lupin stover were plowed , with a tractor, in one community there was significant difference just from the incorporation of manure but the highest yields were with both treatments (OxC). Tractor use is becoming more common as labor has become more scare and public funds have gone to tractor purchases. In the compact clay soil of the region, low tillage methods have not been effective. Incorporation of lupin stover on it s own also provided significant improvement in soil respiration, which is an indicator of biological activity.  Farmers also got together to innovate on how best to incorporate the stover (using a dredging disc followed by a plow disc was the most effective.) The farmers asked the researchers to work on a more compact lupin variety so they wouldn’t have to cut it up before plowing under. Through discussions it was clear that there are a variety of options and different farmers will use different practices.In 6 farmer fields that were characterized for predominance of two native leguminous forage plants, jarquilla (2 plots) and garroltilla (2 plots) or grain grasses (2 plots), it was found that the highest green leaf matter was with garroltilla (20 tn/ ha), followed by grain grasses (13) and then jarquilla(11), whereas fields that were in fallow had just 1 tn/ hectare (serious sampling issues with inference). The idea is to incorporate these forages at the moment of floration. These two species only germinate in plowed fields so farmers put in that effort when they plan to use it as animal forrage and will not be likely to plow them under, which would be best for the soil. Garritilla is more appreciated by farmers because animals eat it all year whereas jarquilla is only edible to animals during new growth and turns into a weed for subsequent crops if not plowed under. Through publicity and educational campaigns, had 110 students and 8 farmers collect the native seed, which they had never done before.Lupin does comparatively well in Anzaldo producing 13 T/ha of dry leaf mass compared to 6.5 t/ha in N. Potosi. Lupin produces 4tn/ha of dry fallen leaves Lupin plants in 3 experimental plots in 3 different communities inoculated with rhizobiam showed more nodules (150 vs. 25), 5 cm more height and 15 T/Ha vs 10 Tn/ ha of green leafy biomass. Because of excessive rains the production was lost so do not know the difference in yield. Averaged the 3 sites together and hard to contextualize the importance of the differences.Experiments showed that vetch in association with oats generated a biomass of 6 Tn/ hectar, way above the fallow parcels that produce 1.3 t/ ha. However in terms of root biomass vetch with oats produced 1 t/ha while native species produced 1.9 t/haThe PROINPA produced quinua variety Kurmi as the best rated by producers for its earliness (5 months), good grain size, compact head and good yield (0.65 t/ha) compared to local variety (0.6). (Doesn’t seem like a significant yield difference)A market study revealed that there is a growing demand for lupin in Peru that is sold through informal markets. The price has doubles in the past 4 years.Analysis of composite soil samples from various ecoregions in Anzaldo confirms that the soils are poor because they have low Cationic Exchange capacity (6,2 me/100g), little potassium (0,9 me/100g), reduced organic matter content (0,9 %), low N-content (0,06 %) and little phosphorus (4,9 ppm). Physically, they are soils of Sandy texture (Y 11, L 34, A 54), of high density (1,6 gr/cc) and low field capacity (11%).Farmers perceptions as captured in focus groups as well as technical trials indicate that vetch and lupin are the best options for improving fallows but the bottleneck is the lack of a local seed supply. Also two varieties of peas were identified as having superior yield and grain size the the local variety.15 farmers in focus groups representing 5 communities in anzaldo province identified low soil fertility and erosion are the major problems due to lack of technologies knowledge for handling, the low production of manure, and the low rotation of their crops and lack of economic resources. Also, it was learned that producers have plots in different stages of fertility and their management strategies and investments vary according to this difference. It was established that productive capacity of manure is low due to poor animal husbandry and the limited capacity of forage. It was also learned their patterns of rotation where wheat is the main crop dominating with 50 to 60% the total production area.