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The promotion of CA in the South African Landcare programme during the last decade: evolution and impact of action research. Hendrik J Smith
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The promotion of CA in the South African Landcare programme during the last decade: evolution and impact of action research. Hendrik J Smith

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A presentation from the WCCA 2011 conference in Brisbane.

A presentation from the WCCA 2011 conference in Brisbane.


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  • 1. The Promotion of Conservation Agriculture in the South African LandCare Programme during the Last Decade: Evolution and Impact of Action Research HJ Smith, MC Matlou, L Maribeng, MV Kidson, G Trytsman WCCA 25-29 September 2011, Brisbane, Australia
  • 2. Background
    • 1997 - South African LandCare Study Tour to Australia
      • National LandCare conference in Adelaide
    • 1998 - LandCare South Africa was established as a top priority initiative for the South African government
    • 1999 – funding to ARC
    The goal of the South African LandCare programme is to: ‘ optimise productivity through the sustainable use of natural resources to improve food security, job creation and the quality of life of the South African people’
  • 3. A tentative start …
    • Aim : Promote sustainable practices to combat soil related production problems among small-scale farmers, e.g. poor soil fertility and acidity
    • YES to CA
    • Totally inappropriate training and background
      • CA and community-based NRM and research
  • 4. Natural Science-based approach
    • On-farm, researcher-managed trials (demo plots)
      • Statistical ‘white-peg’ approach
    • Monitoring on farmers fields
      • Soil, leave and yield samples
    • Feedback
      • Information days
      • Pamphlets
      • Scientific reports
      • Scientific conferences
      • Post-graduate qualifications
      • Peer-reviewed articles
  • 5. Testing “LandCare theories”
    • “ Pre-development” survey (semi-structured interviews)
    • Training
      • Once-off training session for farmers and extension
    • Farmer-managed trials
    • Multi-disciplinary teams
    • Cooperatives
  • 6. Action Research as Methodology Critical reflection Action (Implementation) Ideas Frequent events (e.g. weekly, monthly)
    • Action research allows experimentation with ‘ideas’ and real world experience where learning is in the hands of the participants.
    • This learning can then be tested in subsequent learning cycles.
  • 7. THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK From Paradigms to Practice PARADIGM Constructivism METHODOLOGIES Action Research : Landcare, FPR, FSA, FFS, M&E, experiential-, social- and discovery learning TOOLS, METHODS & TECHNIQUES Visioning, farmer-led experimentation, farmer groups / networks
  • 8. Development of Action Research process in PhD research (Smith, 2006) Learning
      • Real World problem situation A
      • (Area of application)
    ACTION: in LandCare Project REFLECTION using SSM and cognitive mapping Findings / Theories about: F, M, A Learning Research Themes F: Framework of ideas M: Methodology
  • 9. Action Research Process
  • 10. Where are we now? Implementation & Integration process
  • 11. Season-long awareness & training processes
    • Initiate with awareness event
    • Based on cropping calendar
    • Frequent very practical sessions in farmers’ situations
    • Part of continuous learning process
  • 12. Farmer-led experimentation … using CA principles
    • Participating farmers
    • Some inputs & equipment
    • Simple paired designs
    • Reflection, learning, adaptation
    • … socially constructing individual CA systems
    Plan Observe Reflect Act
  • 13. Indicators Sustain- ability dimensions Baseline values (2001) 1 year after start (2002) 2 years after start (2003) 3 years after start (2004) 4 years after start (2005)
    • Soil Organic Carbon (% C) [3]
    • % Residue Cover [30]
    • pH (topsoil) [5.5]
    • Ca – topsoil (mg kg -1 ) [240]
    • Mg – topsoil (mg kg -1 ) [80]
    • P – topsoil (mg kg -1 ) [8-12]
    • K – topsoil (mg kg -1 ) [120]
    • Acid Saturation (%) [20-30]
    • Earthworms
    • # conservation tillage implements converted
    Bio-technical feasibility 1.6 5 4 343 108 6 139 46 0 0 1.6 10-15 4.1 425 139 7 142 39 0 0 1.6 10-15 4.3 620 223 10 153 24 0 0 2 15 4.15 560 181 11.3 239 30 0 143 2 15 4.10 537 173 11.3 241 32 0 143
    • Farmer-to-farmer extension: # number of farmers trained
    • Participation in farmer forums
    • Number of farmer-managed trials (# leader farmers)
    • Number of training courses for leader farmers (cumulative)
    • # field days (cumulative)
    • # PSE tools for group learning
    • Estimated area under CA (ha)
    • Farmer cooperatives
    Social acceptability 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 10 18 2 1 0 2 2 85 80 18 5 10 0 48 24 214 70 18 5 20 2 175 ? 365 50 20 5 25 3 400 ?
    • Maize Yield (ton ha -1 )
    • [4 ton ha -1 ]
    • Gross Margin (R ha -1 )
      • [R3000 ha -1 ]
    Economic viability 1.5 -R200 3.2 Maize: R800 Soya: R1000 Intercrop: R2480 3.1 Maize: R800 Soya: R1000 Intercrop: R2480 4.9 M – R1500 S – R2500 IC – R3442 LEISA – R2800 4.2 M – R1500 S – R2500 IC – R3442 LEISA – R2800
  • 14. Performance on Farmer-led trials (Bergville / Emmaus LandCare Project)
  • 15. Social learning
    • Small learning groups (5 persons)
    • Larger group of 25-35
    • Farmer networks
    • Community structures
    • Multi-stakeholder (innovation) platforms
    Plan Act Observe Reflect Act Plan Observe Reflect Act
  • 16. Future Implications
  • 17.
    • The impact of action research in the promotion of CA in the LandCare Programme during the last decade
      • Led to an increasing awareness , demand and response on all levels that [CA x AR] has the potential to bridge the gap between science and society and address critical environmental and societal challenges.
    • What we are aiming for in the next decade:
      • Scaling out and up/down (mainstreaming)
        • ‘ Framework’ for awareness, funding, integration and wider impact
      • Innovation platforms / networks driven by action research (all levels)
      • Capacity building in CA and Action Research (all levels)
  • 18.
    • Thank You