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"Enhancing Soil Nutrient Status and Water Productivity through Sustainable Regenerative Farming Techniques: A Field Research Project among Smallholder Farmers in the Greater Mekong Sub-region of Lao PDR."
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"Enhancing Soil Nutrient Status and Water Productivity through Sustainable Regenerative Farming Techniques: A Field Research Project among Smallholder Farmers in the Greater Mekong Sub-region of Lao PDR."


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This proposed research seeks to contribute to an on-going research project that is being implemented by the International Water Management Institute among smallholder farmers in the Greater Mekong …

This proposed research seeks to contribute to an on-going research project that is being implemented by the International Water Management Institute among smallholder farmers in the Greater Mekong Sub-region. This research is funded by the Purdue University Center for Global Food Security for Southeast Asia. The study will be supervised by IWMI and approval has being granted from the Clark University Office of Sponsored Research and Programs. The study was approved by IRB at Clark University. This study seeks to also fulfill the academic requirement for the Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy at CU and could be used amongst others for a doctoral dissertation.

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  • 1. “Enhancing Soil Nutrient and Water Conservation through Sustainable Farming Techniques:”A Field Research Component of the IWMI’s Project on Sustainable Groundwater Irrigation in theGreater Mekong Sub-region of Lao PDRJenkins MacedoMS., Environmental Science & Policy (2014), MA., IDSC 2012Timothy Downs, D. Env. (Research Advisor)Marianne Sarkis, Ph.DPaul Pavelic, Ph.D. (Principle Researcher - Hydrogeology)C.T. Hoanh, Ph.D. (Principle Researcher – Water Resources Management)April 1, 2013
  • 2. ABSTRACTªWater scarcity for agricultural production during the hot dry season in the GreaterMekong Sub-region (GMS) in Lao PDR continues to be a major challenge amongsmallholder farmers who rely on farming for their livelihoods. Building on an on-going research project by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) inaddressing the resilience and productivity of sustainable groundwater irrigation, theoverarching objective of this proposed project is to contribute to the water scarcityneeds of smallholder farmers through the use of regenerative, evidence-basedfarming techniques to enhance soil nutrient and water conservation. Soil nutrient andwater conservation practices such as composting, green manure application,mulching, top dressing, bulky organic matter development and leaf mold formationwill be applied through on-farm demonstrations using the experimental study design.The experiments will be conducted at two trial plots in the Vientiane Plains in Laoswith 20 smallholder farmers.ªWorking abstract
  • 3. “Enhancing the Resilience and Productivity of Rainfed Dominated Systemsin Lao PDR through Sustainable Groundwater Use.”How does my research fit into this project?
  • 4. STUDENTS’ RESEARCH PROSPECT WITH IWMI’s OVER ALL PROJECTPotential student projects“Potential student projects would be focused on the research theme: Positioninggroundwater use in farmers’ overall strategies within the context of agricultural/rural development.”Some specific postgraduate student projects that could emerge from this projectinclude: Participatory rural appraisal for classification of farming systems andhousehold typology. In-depth case study analysis on households’ (farming) strategies. The role of focus group discussion in (agricultural) extension. The link between farmers’ farming strategies with their access towater.**** How my proposed study fits in IWMI’s overall project?
  • 5. SCIENTIFIC BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT OF THE STUDY Water scarcity for agricultural productivity. Seasonal variation in annual rainfall (drought, flooding, etc.) Rainfed dominated agriculture Untapped groundwater resource that could solve the water scarcity needs Sustainable groundwater irrigation as a promising alternative Resource conserving farming practices to minimize groundwater usability
  • 6. THE WATER CYCLESource: USGS 2010
  • 7. Source: IGRAC, 2007
  • 8. Source: Vietnam National Mekong Committee 2009
  • 9. RESEARCH OBJECTIVEThe aim of the project is to enhance soil water status and nutrient availability throughsustainable resource conserving practices such as composting, mulching, greenmanures, bulky organic materials and leaf mold application.
  • 10. High GWPWATERSHED:rainfall, evapotranspirationdemand, groundwaterlevels, recharge rates,groundwater quality,groundwater useFARM:water use & timing,other farm inputs,crop yields,crop prices,farm gate incomesSource: IWMI Project, 2012Schematic showing the activities that will take place at the farm andwatershed scales
  • 11. STUDY AREAAND CHARACTERISTICSNo Name of village Household Population(person)1 Ekxang 192 9412 Phonthan 183 9653 Hongluang 85 4844 Nabon 122 6665 Nongkhone 183 1,095Total 765 4,151Source: IWMI Project, 2012Map of the focal watershed indicating the location of B.Ekxang situated in the downstream area is given below.The nearest pumping stations and formal, surface water irrigatedarea near the focal watershed
  • 12. METHODOLOGYPopulation 20 farmers Targeted Sampling through IWMI’s networksPlots 2 plots (control & Treatment) Plot criteriaRandomized Soil Samples Total of 62 soil samples 20 samples x 3 interventions (pre-planting,planting & post-planting soil sampling plus 2core soil samples will be analyzed).VariablesPotassium, Chloride, Phosphorus, Nitrogen, Iron, Sulfur,Sodium, Chloride, Soil pH, Texture, Water Holding Capacity,Soil Moisture Content, exchangeable cations, and temperaturebuilding on standard procedures.
  • 13. INSTRUCTMENTS AND DATAANALYSES1. Macronutrient, Micronutrient, and pH (5010-01)2. Hanna Soil Temperature & Conductivity Meter3. Soil Moisture Content TesterSoil Sample ProcessSoil will be sampled atrange from 0- to 0.15-mand at 0.15- to 0.3-mdepths at 10 randomizedsampling points in eachplot during the threephases of crop productioncycle.
  • 14. Factors Ideal Condition Brief Technical RelevanceRegulationsRegulations that encourage smallholder farmersto produce agricultural goods, while enhancingand conserving local resources. The MekongRiver Commission (MRC) could be of assistancein protecting the water systems.The success of any project relies on adherence to existing local andnational regulatory frameworks in protecting local resourcesincluding the use of land, water, forest and the air. This project willbe altering the existing structure of the land and will adhere to anyexisting regulation.Water AvailabilityAccess the existing groundwater irrigationsystem of the IWMI and partner agencies will bean asset.Effective crop production requires regular access to available andreliable water sources to enhance agricultural production. The siteshould be located near available water source.Soil Suitability &ClimateThis project will be implemented during the dryseason in Loa PDR. Sandy or clay soil types willbe preferable, but not required.Most crops prefer a well-drained loam or clay–loam soil with a pHof about 6.0 to 6.5. A thorough mapping of soils on the site shouldbe done in order to determine if soil nutrition or the soil structureneeds attention.Crop VarietyLocal crop varieties that are resilient to the hotdry season will be prioritized, but not required.The soil selected should support the kind of crops that will becultivated.TopographyThe site should have mild slope to minimizeerosion and agricultural runoffs.Raised beds will be established against the direction of the slope toreduce erosion.ProximitySite that is closer to communities in whichsmallholder farmers live will enhance monitoringand security.The proximity of the site to residential areas and other projects isessential to avoid potential contamination. Site proximity will alsoenhance the ecological values of existing systems.LaborTwenty smallholder farmers that are currentlyworking with IWMI and partner agencies will berecruited for on-farm demonstrations.Farming usually requires intensive-labor. In the case of this project,I will avoid the use of chemical fertilizers basing the experimentaltrials on sustainable soil nutrient and water remediation practices.Transportation &MarketThe site should be accessible to transportationand local market systems.Access to reliable transportation systems is essential for transportingfarm equipment and materials and also fresh agricultural produce tothe market.Materials &equipmentThis project will rely on handheld farm tools andsoil nutrient and water testing equipment.The site will be slightly tilled using handheld tools and raised bedswill be established to cultivate crops.PLOT SELECTION CRITERIA
  • 15. TREATMENT STRATEGYTREATMENT NUMBER STANDARD PRACTICE ADMENTMENT 1ᵇ ALTERNATIVEᵈ1 Controlᵃ2Control 30 Kg/20 cmdepth/raised bed3 Control6 ft²/ for 1ʺ layerof Compost (ClaySoil)8 ft²/ for 1ʺ layerof Compost(Sandy Soil)4Control Mulch plant at 1ʺthick with organicmaterialsªFarming as usual; ᵇ30kg/20 cm depth/raised bed of green manure application.
  • 16. PLOTS SCHEMATIC AND REPLICATIONSTechnical Note: There will be 2 plots (control & Treatment). RB = Raised bed
  • 17. Es = Edge spacing, Rs = Row spacing, Ps = Plant spacing, RB = Raised Bed (I, II, III, IV)SCHEMATIC OF PLANTING DISTANCE AND REPLICATIONS