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OVERVIEW
•	Food production will need to double in the next 35 years for the world’s
farmers to feed their families and more non-farm families.
•	This doubling will have to occur with less land per capita, lower and less
reliable water supplies, and likely higher costs of production.
•	Yield gains from Green Revolution technologies have slowed over several
decades, both in absolute terms and relative to population growth.
•	Moreover, the economic and environmental costs of these technologies are
rising; farming profitability is decreasing for many households; and soil
health and water quality are being compromised by agrochemical inputs.
•	The System of Rice Intensification (SRI), developed in Madagascar
30 years ago to benefit smallholding households there, can raise the
productivity of land, water, labor, seeds and capital, while promoting soil
and environmental health.
•	SRI concepts and methods, originally developed for rice production, have
been adapted to many other crops; this is becoming known as the System
of Crop Intensification (SCI).
•	Here we consider how these methods have been adapted to the production
of tef (Eragrostis tef), a major grain crop critical for food security in Ethiopia.
SYSTEM OF CROP INTENSIFICATION (SCI)
As with SRI, SCI modifies the growing environment for crop plants both
below and above ground. It promotes more vigorous growth and functioning
of crops’ root systems and greater abundance, diversity and activity of
beneficial soil biota, helping to nourish and to protect crop plants.
SCI effects are achieved by greatly reducing plant populations through wider
spacing, enhancement of the soil’s organic matter, and active soil aeration.
Crops can be established through transplanting young seedlings, taking care to
minimize trauma to the roots, or through direct seeding to reduce labor. The
result is more robust and productive plant phenotypes from any genotype, as
the plants’ genetic potentials are more fully expressed.
SYSTEM OF TEF INTENSIFICATION (STI)
In 2008, the first trials were undertaken at Debre Zeit, with support from the
Sasakawa Africa Association, adapting SRI concepts and methods to the
production of tef, evaluating the following methods:
•	Transplanting 14-day seedlings;
•	20x20 cm spacing;
•	Different soil nutrient amendments than conventional tef production.
This gave grain yields about 4 times greater than conventional broadcasting
methods, which produced 500-1,200 kg ha-1
. STI methods produced 4,400-
5,100 kg ha-1
using seeds that had been coated with fertilizer, and 3,400-4,100
kg ha-1
with uncoated seeds. It was further found that adding micronutrients
(Zn, Cu) to the soil in addition to N and P macronutrients gave unprecedented
yields in the range of 7-8 t ha-1
.
STI phenotypes have more numerous and stronger tillers, larger panicles, and
are more resistant to lodging, which is a major yield limitation for tef plants
with conventional dense broadcasting. In 2009, with a grant from Oxfam
America, further trials and demonstrations were undertaken. These confirmed
first-year results, evoking government and donor interest.
SPREAD AND IMPACT OF STI
2010: The Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), in collaboration with
the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, the National Institute of Agricultural
Research,andministriesandresearchinstitutionsofthefourregions,began
overseeing further trials and demonstrations. Good results encouraged
ATA to try to expand farmer use of the methods.
·· Tef farmers’ reluctance to move directly to fully-intensified crop
management led to adapted STI using direct seeding. This became
known as TIRR, standing for Tef Improved seed, with Reduced
seed rate, and Row planting.
2013: TIRR scaled up by national extension system, reaching 1.3 million
farmers, up from 167,000 the year before.
2014: TIRR reached 2.2 million farmers, 1/3 of Ethiopia’s tef-growing
smallholder farmers, on 1.1 million hectares, 36% of the land under tef.
2015: The ATA and Ministry of Agriculture expect 5 million farmers to adopt
TIRR in 2 to 3 years, representing a majority of the country’s tef farmers.
·· National production of tef in 2014/15 was 4.7 million tons, more
than 50% higher than production in 2008/09 when STI experiments
started (see figure at right).
RELEVANCE FOR GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY
These kinds of gains in productivity, in crop vigor, and in resistance to biotic
and abiotic stresses have been observed in a number of other crops – wheat,
finger millet, maize, sugarcane, and others – raising yields substantially, by 20-
50% and sometimes by 100% or more, with reductions in water use, reduced
seed requirements because plant populations are greatly lowered, and greater
precision and care in crop management. Factors like spacing and timing
are optimized to suit local conditions (http://sri.cals.cornell.edu/aboutsri/
othercrops).
•	SCI does not negate or contradict the benefits of varietal improvement –
farmers are always advised to start with the most productive and suitable
varieties for their circumstances and objectives.
•	SCI isn’t necessarily only organic, but can obtain profitable yields without
relying primarily on inorganic sources of nutrients.
•	Integrated nutrient management combining and optimizing nutrient
sources is recommended, emphasizing use of organic sources to improve
structure and functioning of soil systems and for long-term fertility.
•	SCI crops demonstrate greater resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses
·· Farmers report and some research shows reduced pest/disease losses.
·· Increased ability to withstand drought and water stress, storm damage,
flooding, and temperature extremes.
·· This resilience is attributable to the growth of larger, better-
functioning root systems and to enhanced abundance, activity and
diversity of beneficial soil organisms.
•	Applications of SCI to wheat, finger millet and sorghum, through farmer-
centered research conducted by the Institute for Sustainable Development
in Addis Ababa (www.isd.org.et).
•	SCI, like its parent SRI, is still a work in progress.
Already the technological breakthrough of STI/TIRR is contributing to
reducing food insecurity in Ethiopia, and this experience indicates how global
food security can be improved quickly and at low cost by making better use of
available genetic and other resources.
The System of Tef Intensification (STI)
Modifying crop management for greater food security in Ethiopia
T. Berhe1
, Z. Gebretsadik1
,A. G. Ayetenfisu1
and N. Uphoff2
1
Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
2
SRI International Network and Resources Center (SRI-Rice),
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA
Matured tef with full heads of grain under STI management.
On left: broadcasted tef plant and transplanted STI plant showing differences in their tiller
number; top right: transplanting 15-day-old tef seedlings, Debre Zeit, 2009; bottom right:
same field, four weeks after transplanting.
Broadcasted tef plants on left, compared with transplanted STI tef plants on right.
Sources:
Araya, H, S Edwards, A Asmelash, H Legesse, GH Zibelo, T Assefa, E Mohamed and S Misgina (2013). SCI – Planting
with space. Farming Matters, 29 (March), LEISA, Wageningen, 35-37. http://www.agriculturesnetwork.org/
magazines/global/sri/sci-planting-with-space
ATA (2014). 2013/2014 Annual Report: Transforming Agriculture in Ethiopia. Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation
Agency, Addis Ababa. www.ata.gov.et/wp-content/uploads/Annual_Report.pdf
ATA/EIAR (2013). Results of 2012 New Tef Technology Demonstration Trials. Agricultural Transformation Agency
and Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, Addis Ababa. http://sri.cals.cornell.edu/aboutsri/othercrops/
teff/Ethiopia_SCI_tef_2012_trials.pdf
Berhe T, Z Gebrestadik, S Edwards and H Araya (2013). Boosting tef productivity using improved agronomic
practices and appropriate fertilizers, in Achievements and Prospects of Tef Improvement: Proceedings of 2nd
International Workshop, Nov. 7-9, 2012, Debre Zeit, eds. K Assefa, S Chanyalew and Z Tadele, Ethiopian Institute
of Agricultural Research, Addis Ababa, and Institute of Plant Sciences, University of Bern, pp. 133-40.
SRI-Rice (2014). The System of Crop Intensification: Agroecological Innovations for Improving Agricultural
Production, Food Security, and Resilience to Climate Change. SRI International Network and Resources
Center (SRI-Rice), Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural
Cooperation (CTA), Wageningen, Netherlands.
Average tef yield (t ha-1
) with different planting methods and different seed rates, 2012.
Key: 30 BC – broadcasting @ 30 kg ha-1
; 5 BC – broadcasting @ 5 kg ha-1
; 5 Row – row
planting @ 5 kg ha-1
; 0.4 TP – transplanting @ 0.4 kg ha-1
.
1.30	
  
1.80	
  
2.60	
  
3.10	
  
0	
  
1	
  
2	
  
3	
  
4	
  
30	
  BC	
   5	
  BC	
   5	
  Row	
   0.4	
  TP	
  
Grain	
  Yield	
  (tons	
  /	
  ha)	
  
0	
  
0.5	
  
1	
  
1.5	
  
2	
  
2.5	
  
3	
  
0	
  
1	
  
2	
  
3	
  
4	
  
5	
  
2008/2009	
   2009/2010	
   2010/2011	
   2011/2012	
   2012/2013	
   2013/2014	
   2014/2015	
  
Yields	
  (t	
  /	
  ha)	
  
Area	
  	
  (million	
  ha)	
  /	
  Produc?on	
  (million	
  tons)	
  
Na#onal	
  Teff	
  Area	
  and	
  Produc#on	
  in	
  Ethiopia	
  
Area	
  (mill.	
  ha)	
  
Produc?on	
  (mill.	
  tons)	
  
Trad.	
  yield	
  (tons	
  ha-­‐1)	
  
TIRR	
  yield	
  (tons	
  ha-­‐1)	
  

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1512 - The System of Tef Intensification (STI)

  • 1. OVERVIEW • Food production will need to double in the next 35 years for the world’s farmers to feed their families and more non-farm families. • This doubling will have to occur with less land per capita, lower and less reliable water supplies, and likely higher costs of production. • Yield gains from Green Revolution technologies have slowed over several decades, both in absolute terms and relative to population growth. • Moreover, the economic and environmental costs of these technologies are rising; farming profitability is decreasing for many households; and soil health and water quality are being compromised by agrochemical inputs. • The System of Rice Intensification (SRI), developed in Madagascar 30 years ago to benefit smallholding households there, can raise the productivity of land, water, labor, seeds and capital, while promoting soil and environmental health. • SRI concepts and methods, originally developed for rice production, have been adapted to many other crops; this is becoming known as the System of Crop Intensification (SCI). • Here we consider how these methods have been adapted to the production of tef (Eragrostis tef), a major grain crop critical for food security in Ethiopia. SYSTEM OF CROP INTENSIFICATION (SCI) As with SRI, SCI modifies the growing environment for crop plants both below and above ground. It promotes more vigorous growth and functioning of crops’ root systems and greater abundance, diversity and activity of beneficial soil biota, helping to nourish and to protect crop plants. SCI effects are achieved by greatly reducing plant populations through wider spacing, enhancement of the soil’s organic matter, and active soil aeration. Crops can be established through transplanting young seedlings, taking care to minimize trauma to the roots, or through direct seeding to reduce labor. The result is more robust and productive plant phenotypes from any genotype, as the plants’ genetic potentials are more fully expressed. SYSTEM OF TEF INTENSIFICATION (STI) In 2008, the first trials were undertaken at Debre Zeit, with support from the Sasakawa Africa Association, adapting SRI concepts and methods to the production of tef, evaluating the following methods: • Transplanting 14-day seedlings; • 20x20 cm spacing; • Different soil nutrient amendments than conventional tef production. This gave grain yields about 4 times greater than conventional broadcasting methods, which produced 500-1,200 kg ha-1 . STI methods produced 4,400- 5,100 kg ha-1 using seeds that had been coated with fertilizer, and 3,400-4,100 kg ha-1 with uncoated seeds. It was further found that adding micronutrients (Zn, Cu) to the soil in addition to N and P macronutrients gave unprecedented yields in the range of 7-8 t ha-1 . STI phenotypes have more numerous and stronger tillers, larger panicles, and are more resistant to lodging, which is a major yield limitation for tef plants with conventional dense broadcasting. In 2009, with a grant from Oxfam America, further trials and demonstrations were undertaken. These confirmed first-year results, evoking government and donor interest. SPREAD AND IMPACT OF STI 2010: The Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, the National Institute of Agricultural Research,andministriesandresearchinstitutionsofthefourregions,began overseeing further trials and demonstrations. Good results encouraged ATA to try to expand farmer use of the methods. ·· Tef farmers’ reluctance to move directly to fully-intensified crop management led to adapted STI using direct seeding. This became known as TIRR, standing for Tef Improved seed, with Reduced seed rate, and Row planting. 2013: TIRR scaled up by national extension system, reaching 1.3 million farmers, up from 167,000 the year before. 2014: TIRR reached 2.2 million farmers, 1/3 of Ethiopia’s tef-growing smallholder farmers, on 1.1 million hectares, 36% of the land under tef. 2015: The ATA and Ministry of Agriculture expect 5 million farmers to adopt TIRR in 2 to 3 years, representing a majority of the country’s tef farmers. ·· National production of tef in 2014/15 was 4.7 million tons, more than 50% higher than production in 2008/09 when STI experiments started (see figure at right). RELEVANCE FOR GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY These kinds of gains in productivity, in crop vigor, and in resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses have been observed in a number of other crops – wheat, finger millet, maize, sugarcane, and others – raising yields substantially, by 20- 50% and sometimes by 100% or more, with reductions in water use, reduced seed requirements because plant populations are greatly lowered, and greater precision and care in crop management. Factors like spacing and timing are optimized to suit local conditions (http://sri.cals.cornell.edu/aboutsri/ othercrops). • SCI does not negate or contradict the benefits of varietal improvement – farmers are always advised to start with the most productive and suitable varieties for their circumstances and objectives. • SCI isn’t necessarily only organic, but can obtain profitable yields without relying primarily on inorganic sources of nutrients. • Integrated nutrient management combining and optimizing nutrient sources is recommended, emphasizing use of organic sources to improve structure and functioning of soil systems and for long-term fertility. • SCI crops demonstrate greater resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses ·· Farmers report and some research shows reduced pest/disease losses. ·· Increased ability to withstand drought and water stress, storm damage, flooding, and temperature extremes. ·· This resilience is attributable to the growth of larger, better- functioning root systems and to enhanced abundance, activity and diversity of beneficial soil organisms. • Applications of SCI to wheat, finger millet and sorghum, through farmer- centered research conducted by the Institute for Sustainable Development in Addis Ababa (www.isd.org.et). • SCI, like its parent SRI, is still a work in progress. Already the technological breakthrough of STI/TIRR is contributing to reducing food insecurity in Ethiopia, and this experience indicates how global food security can be improved quickly and at low cost by making better use of available genetic and other resources. The System of Tef Intensification (STI) Modifying crop management for greater food security in Ethiopia T. Berhe1 , Z. Gebretsadik1 ,A. G. Ayetenfisu1 and N. Uphoff2 1 Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 2 SRI International Network and Resources Center (SRI-Rice), Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA Matured tef with full heads of grain under STI management. On left: broadcasted tef plant and transplanted STI plant showing differences in their tiller number; top right: transplanting 15-day-old tef seedlings, Debre Zeit, 2009; bottom right: same field, four weeks after transplanting. Broadcasted tef plants on left, compared with transplanted STI tef plants on right. Sources: Araya, H, S Edwards, A Asmelash, H Legesse, GH Zibelo, T Assefa, E Mohamed and S Misgina (2013). SCI – Planting with space. Farming Matters, 29 (March), LEISA, Wageningen, 35-37. http://www.agriculturesnetwork.org/ magazines/global/sri/sci-planting-with-space ATA (2014). 2013/2014 Annual Report: Transforming Agriculture in Ethiopia. Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency, Addis Ababa. www.ata.gov.et/wp-content/uploads/Annual_Report.pdf ATA/EIAR (2013). Results of 2012 New Tef Technology Demonstration Trials. Agricultural Transformation Agency and Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, Addis Ababa. http://sri.cals.cornell.edu/aboutsri/othercrops/ teff/Ethiopia_SCI_tef_2012_trials.pdf Berhe T, Z Gebrestadik, S Edwards and H Araya (2013). Boosting tef productivity using improved agronomic practices and appropriate fertilizers, in Achievements and Prospects of Tef Improvement: Proceedings of 2nd International Workshop, Nov. 7-9, 2012, Debre Zeit, eds. K Assefa, S Chanyalew and Z Tadele, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, Addis Ababa, and Institute of Plant Sciences, University of Bern, pp. 133-40. SRI-Rice (2014). The System of Crop Intensification: Agroecological Innovations for Improving Agricultural Production, Food Security, and Resilience to Climate Change. SRI International Network and Resources Center (SRI-Rice), Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), Wageningen, Netherlands. Average tef yield (t ha-1 ) with different planting methods and different seed rates, 2012. Key: 30 BC – broadcasting @ 30 kg ha-1 ; 5 BC – broadcasting @ 5 kg ha-1 ; 5 Row – row planting @ 5 kg ha-1 ; 0.4 TP – transplanting @ 0.4 kg ha-1 . 1.30   1.80   2.60   3.10   0   1   2   3   4   30  BC   5  BC   5  Row   0.4  TP   Grain  Yield  (tons  /  ha)   0   0.5   1   1.5   2   2.5   3   0   1   2   3   4   5   2008/2009   2009/2010   2010/2011   2011/2012   2012/2013   2013/2014   2014/2015   Yields  (t  /  ha)   Area    (million  ha)  /  Produc?on  (million  tons)   Na#onal  Teff  Area  and  Produc#on  in  Ethiopia   Area  (mill.  ha)   Produc?on  (mill.  tons)   Trad.  yield  (tons  ha-­‐1)   TIRR  yield  (tons  ha-­‐1)