Sustainable intensification and diversification of maize-based farming systems in Malawi


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Presented by Dan TerAvest (Washington State University) at the Africa RISING East and Southern Africa Research Review and Planning Meeting, Arusha, Tanzania, 1-5 October 2012

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Sustainable intensification and diversification of maize-based farming systems in Malawi

  1. 1. Africa RISING East and Southern Africa Research Review and Planning Meeting, Arusha, Tanzania, 1-5 October 2012 Sustainable Intensification andDiversification of Maize-based Farming Systems in Malawi Dan TerAvest Washington State University
  2. 2. Project Goals• Incorporate crop rotations and legume intercropping into maize- based farming systems in Malawi in order to: • Increase Food Production • Improve household nutrition and reduce protein and micronutrient deficiencies • Enhance soil fertility and quality • Improve resilience to drought and climate variability/change • Increase household income• Evaluate the sustainability of 3 farming systems; continuous no- till maize (NT), conservation agriculture rotation (CA), and conventional rotation (CVR)
  3. 3. Experimental Design and Year 1 Activities• 8 smallholder farms: 4 each in Dowa and Nkhotakota districts• 3 plots on each farm: Dowa Nkhotakota NT CA CVR NT CA CVR Year 1 Maiz Sweet Potato + Sweet Potato Maize Cassava + Cassava e pigeonpea pigeonpea Year 2 Maiz Groundnut + Groundnut Maize Soybean + Soybean e pigeonpea pigeonpea Year 3 Maiz Maize Maize Maize Maize Maize e• NT and CA plots have been managed as continuous no-till maize plots, by farmers, for the 2 years prior to study establishment• CVR plots have been managed using the conventional practice of clearing residues and ridging for the previous 2+ years
  4. 4. Food ProductionDistrict Treatment Crop YieldDowa NT Maize 3,641 kg ha-1 CA Sweet potato 6,864 kg ha-1 Sweet potato leaves 38 kg ha-1 Pigeon pea 27 kg ha-1 CVR Sweet potato 9,131 kg ha-1 Sweet potato leaves 38 kg ha-1Nkhotakota NT Maize 4,136 kg ha-1 CA Pigeon pea 93 kg ha-1
  5. 5. Human Nutritional OutputDowa District NT CA CVR Maize Sweet potato Sweet potato SP leaves SP leavesNutrient Unit ha-1 Pigeon PeaEnergy Mj 46,160 28,530 37,419Protein kg 285 130 164Sugars kg 19 326 434MineralsCalcium g 211 2,389 3,127Iron g 82 49 64Potassium g 8,669 26,858 35,165VitaminsVitamin A g 0 55 74Vitamin C g 0 191 253Crop nutritional output data from the USDA National Nutrient Database (
  6. 6. Soil Fertility and QualityDistrict Treatment pH Bulk Density Organic C Available P Inorganic N CaCl2 Mg m-3 g kg-1 mg kg-1 mg kg-1Dowa NTz 5.2 1.35ay 15.4 31 187a CA 5.0 1.35a 16.1 71 121ab CVR 5.0 1.28b 17.1 41 74bNkhotakota NT 4.6 1.42 11.2 72 41 CA 4.6 1.44 9.3 80 35 CVR 4.6 1.40 7.7 95 41z Sampling depth: 0-10 cmy Values within a column followed by the same letter are not significantly different (P ≤ 0.05)
  7. 7. Soil/Crop Moisture Dynamics 40 cm
  8. 8. Economic AnalysisUS $ Daily Wage Opportunity CostTreatment Outputs Total Variable Costs: Net Variable Costs: Net/District Revenue Labour, fertilizer, Returns Labour, fertilizer, Returns seed, etc seed, etcNo-Till Maize 961.92 605.06 356.86 1,194.19 -232.27NkhotakotaNo-Till Maize 762.12 546.87 215.25 637.22 124.91DowaCA Sweet potato 716.15 711.55 4.60 814.43 -98.28Dowa SP Leaves Cuttings Pigeon peaCVR Sweet potato 868.27 669.17 199.10 718.95 149.32Dowa SP Leaves Cuttings
  9. 9. Successes and Challenges Successes ChallengesCooperation Good cooperation and Farmers sometimes slow to inform uswith farmers communication with participating of management issues (e.g. insect farmers damage to crops)Crop Maize (both districts) and cassava Late planting of sweet potato andmanagement and pigeonpea (Nkhotakota) were pigeon pea in Dowa: planted in timely fashion. -Sporadic rainfall -Logistics of arranging vegetative Collected all target data in a timely materials for planting mannerSample Bunda College of Agriculture Sample analysis delayed:analysis laboratory staff were knowledgeable -Frequent water and power and capable shortages -Poor analytical capabilities delayed sample analysis
  10. 10. Thank you! Bunda College of Agriculture