• Home
  • Spilling the beans: FTA scientists contribute to new book about sustainable cocoa 

Spilling the beans: FTA scientists contribute to new book about sustainable cocoa 

Cacao produced in Cameroon. Photo by O. Girard/CIFOR
Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

With a distinguished editor and a variety of international experts as authors, including a number from the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing recently launched the book Achieving sustainable cultivation of cocoa, considered a new standard reference for scientists and producers of cocoa.

Eduardo Somarriba from the Agriculture, Livestock and Agroforestry Program (PRAGA) at CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center) appears as a chapter author, while CATIE’s Rolando Cerda and Wilbert Phillips are coauthors.

Bioversity International’s Stephan Weise, Brigitte Laliberté and Jan Engels also contributed to the book. Meanwhile, the Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) saw a number of contributors across various chapters, namely Philippe Lachenaud, Didier Snoeck, Bernard Dubos, Leïla Bagny Beilhe, Régis Babin, Martijn ten Hoopen, Christian Cilas and Olivier Sounigo.

Read also: Achieving sustainable cultivation of cocoa

According to Francis Dodds, editorial director of Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing, the book discusses the existing challenges standing in the way of making cocoa crops more efficient and sustainable, in order to supply increasing demand, while taking into account the increasing age of plantations, decreasing performance and greater vulnerability to illnesses. At the same time, the authors heed increasing concerns about the environmental impact of cocoa on soil health and biodiversity.

The first part of the book looks at genetic resources and developments in production technologies. The second part discusses the optimization of crop techniques to take maximum advantage of the new varieties, while the third part summarizes recent research about the understanding of and fight against major viral and fungal diseases affecting cocoa. The fourth part covers security and quality issues, and finally the last part of the book analyzes ways to improve sustainability, including the role of agroforestry, organic crops, and ways to support small producers.

Achieving sustainable cultivation of cocoa

Notably, Somarriba and Philips contributed to the first and fifth sections of the book, with Somarriba addressing the issue of the analysis and design of the shade canopy of cocoa in agroforestry systems, and Phillips looking at the main challenges of conservation and exploiting cocoa genetic resources.

Read also: CATIE continues to improve people’s wellbeing across Latin America and Caribbean through education and research

The book was edited by the recognized and cocoa expert, Pathmanathan Umahran, director of the Research Centre for Cocoa and professor of genetic at the University of the Occidental Indies, in Trinidad and Tobago.

Martin Gilmour, Director of Research and Sustainability Development of Cocoa at Mars Global Chocolate, stated in a press release from Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing that the book would be of great interest for researchers, development agencies, governments, specialists in the industry and non-government organizations, as well as anyone interested in improving cocoa crop sustainability.

Adapted from the article by CATIE communicator Karla Salazar Leiva, originally published by CATIE.

For more information, contact Karla Salazar Leiva at [email protected] or Eduardo Somarriba, Leader of CATIE’s Agriculture, Livestock and Agroforestry Program, at [email protected].

  • Home
  • Spatial Gradients of Ecosystem Health Indicators across a Human-Impacted Semiarid Savanna

Spatial Gradients of Ecosystem Health Indicators across a Human-Impacted Semiarid Savanna

Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Drivers of soil organic carbon (SOC) dynamics involve a combination of edaphic, human, and climatic factors that influence and determine SOC distribution across the landscape. High-resolution maps of key indicators of ecosystem health can enable assessments of these drivers and aid in critical management decisions. This study used a systematic field-based approach coupled with statistical modeling and remote sensing to develop accurate, high-resolution maps of key indicators of ecosystem health across savanna ecosystems in South Africa. Two 100-km2 landscapes in Bushbuckridge Local Municipality were surveyed, and 320 composite topsoil samples were collected. Mid-infrared spectroscopy was used to predict soil properties, with good performance for all models and root mean squared error of prediction (RMSEP) values of 1.3, 0.2, 5, and 3.6 for SOC, pH, sand, and clay, respectively. Validation results for the mapping of soil erosion prevalence and herbaceous cover using RapidEye imagery at 5-m spatial resolution showed good model performance with area under the curve values of 0.80 and 0.86, respectively. The overall (out-of-bag) random forest model performance for mapping of soil properties, reported using R2, was 0.8, 0.77, and 0.82 for SOC, pH, and sand, respectively. Calibration model performance was good, with RMSEP values of 2.6 g kg?1 for SOC, 0.2 for pH, and 6% for sand content. Strong gradients of increasing SOC and pH corresponded with decreasing sand content between the study sites. Although both sites had low SOC overall, important driving factors of SOC dynamics included soil texture, soil erosion prevalence, and climate. These data will inform strategic land management decisions focused particularly on improving ecosystem conditions.

  • Home
  • Spatial and seasonal variation in soil respiration along a slope in a rubber plantation and a natural forest in Xishuangbanna, Southwest China

Spatial and seasonal variation in soil respiration along a slope in a rubber plantation and a natural forest in Xishuangbanna, Southwest China

Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Soil respiration is a key component of the global carbon cycle, and even small changes in soil respiration rates could result in significant changes in atmospheric CO2 levels. The conversion of tropical forests to rubber plantations in SE Asia is increasingly common, and there is a need to understand the impacts of this land-use change on soil respiration in order to revise CO2 budget calculations. This study focused on the spatial variability of soil respiration along a slope in a natural tropical rainforest and a terraced rubber plantation in Xishuangbanna, Southwest (SW) China. In each land-use type, we inserted 105 collars for soil respiration measurements. Research was conducted over one year in Xishuangbanna during May, June, July and October 2015 (wet season) and January and March 2016 (dry season). The mean annual soil respiration rate was 30% higher in natural forest than in rubber plantation and mean fluxes in the wet and dry season were 15.1 and 9.5 Mg C ha-1 yr-1 in natural forest and 11.7 and 5.7 Mg C ha-1 yr-1 in rubber plantation. Using a linear mixed effects model to assess the effect of changes in soil temperature and moisture on soil respiration, we found that soil temperature was the main driver of variation in soil respiration, explaining 48% of its seasonal variation in rubber plantation and 30% in natural forest. After including soil moisture, the model explained 70% of the variation in soil respiration in natural forest and 76% in rubber plantation. In the natural forest slope position had a significant effect on soil respiration, and soil temperature and soil moisture gradients only partly explained this correlation. In contrast, soil respiration in rubber plantation was not affected by slope position, which may be due to the terrace structure that resulted in more homogeneous environmental conditions along the slope. Further research is needed to determine whether or not these findings hold true at a landscape level.

  • Home
  • FTA cohosts meeting on soil carbon and climate change agenda

FTA cohosts meeting on soil carbon and climate change agenda

Land is cleared for agriculture In the Nebbou area, Burkina Faso. Photo by Ollivier Girard/CIFOR
Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Land is cleared for agriculture In the Nebbou area, Burkina Faso. Photo by Ollivier Girard/CIFOR

The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) recently cohosted a fruitful meeting along with the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) on the topic of soil carbon.

“Soil carbon — the ‘carbon beneath our feet’ — could help mitigate significant greenhouse gas emissions, while also supporting food production and adaptation to climate change,” Lini Wollenberg (CCAFS), Christopher Martius (FTA), Keith Shepherd and Rolf Sommer (WLE) emphasized following the webinar.

“As such, soil carbon could be crucial to meeting the Paris Agreement goal to limit global warming to below 2 degrees and Sustainable Development Goals related to food security and climate. However, we still lack the knowledge needed to sustainably manage soil,” they added, taking into account that carbon sequestration is an important cobenefit to other productive and ecological functions of healthy soils. 

Soil organic carbon (SOC) is a key component of many essential soil functions, including food production, habitats and biodiversity, carbon storage, as well as water storage and filtration. Climate change is also altering the picture.

The global 4p1000 Initiative and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ Global Soil Partnership are among current efforts to overcome this knowledge gap.

The webinar aimed to build a common understanding of CGIAR’s current soil carbon research and inform a vision and coordinated agenda. Thirty CGIAR scientists, representing seven CGIAR Centers and six CGIAR Research Programs, exchanged research findings and identified priorities for a future research agenda on soil carbon and climate change.

FTA scientist Tor-Gunnar Vågen presented on soil organic carbon during the recent webinar.

As outlined in CCAFS’ blog following the webinar, future research priorities on soil carbon and climate change can be grouped into five general themes:

  • Quantifying soil carbon sequestration potential,
  • Understanding soil carbon processes,
  • Evaluating the impact of land use and new technical practices,
  • Methods for improved assessment, and
  • Policy and action.

In particular, scientists discussed the role of SOC in landscapes, and the need to estimate SOC across landscapes, while traditional work is by essence based on plot-level measurements.

FTA scientist Tor-Gunnar Vågen of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) cited the Land Degradation Surveillance Framework (LDSF), which was developed by ICRAF following years of research on land degradation and ecosystem services, as well as CGIAR and FTA’s sentinel landscapes, before highlighting the vital important of context in assessing SOC.

Watch the presentation: On the critical role of SOC in landscapes 

“The scientists will take steps to support coordination of [soil carbon] research across CGIAR Research Programs in ways that make use of our extensive network of field sites and large knowledge base on sustainable agricultural practices, while also recognizing the broader ecosystem functions of soil carbon and seeking to improve understanding of the benefits and trade-offs of soil carbon sequestration,” confirmed Wollenberg, Martius, Shepherd and Sommer.

Moving forward, FTA, CCAFS and WLE will coordinate relevant research by involving different strategies for soil carbon management across all land covers and uses, from cropland to pastures, agroforestry, trees outside forests, and forests, by providing solutions on best practices, management and policy, as well as the measurement of impacts.

The programs will also consider how soil carbon preservation and enhancement objectives can provide important co-benefits to other objectives, such as conserving, rehabilitating or restoring land, and the sustainable intensification of agriculture, for which trees provide an important solution, as FTA work will inform.

By Vincent Gitz, Christopher Martius and Hannah Maddison-Harris.

Related reading: 


This work forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry. We would like to thank all donors who supported this work through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund.

  • Home
  • On the critical role of soil organic carbon in landscapes

On the critical role of soil organic carbon in landscapes

Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Presentation by World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) scientist Tor-Gunnar Vågen, who is also part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA).

On June 19, 30 CGIAR scientists, representing seven CGIAR Centers and six CGIAR Research Programs, exchanged recent research findings and identified priorities for a future research agenda on soil carbon and climate change. The meeting was hosted by the CGIAR Research Programs on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) and Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA).

 

  • Home
  • ICRAF presents the role of evidence and improved soil management for land restoration in sub-Saharan Africa at European Development Days

ICRAF presents the role of evidence and improved soil management for land restoration in sub-Saharan Africa at European Development Days

Degraded land in Marsabit, Kenya, shows that poor land management can lead to degradation. Photo by Ake Mamo/ICRAF
Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

In Marsabit, Kenya, poor land management has led to degradation. Photo by Ake Mamo/ICRAF

Approximately 70% of Africa’s population depends on its agriculture-based economy for their livelihoods, underscoring the importance of soil to the sector.

Fertile soils across the continent are under threat, however, due in large part to climate change and poor land management which leads to the depletion of nutrients and soil organic matter and increased soil erosion.

During the recent European Development Days held on June 7-8, 2017, in Brussels, Belgium, the Joint Research Commission of the European Commission led a session on sustainable soil management in Africa. Panelists drew from different organizations including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and University of Leuven.

Their discussion focused on solutions to large-scale adoption, both at policy and practical levels, of key land restoration options including integrated soil fertility management alongside practices such as intercropping and agroforestry. Scientists from ICRAF presented compelling evidence on how soil restoration can contribute to improved food security and livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Many soils in Africa are naturally fertile and productive,” said Arwyn Jones of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre. “However, many exhibit significant constraints related to inappropriate management and climate fluctuation.”

Human activity and natural disasters such as floods accelerate soil degradation, negatively affect natural ecosystems which in turn can negatively impacts sectors of the economy such as agriculture, environmental services and tourism. As such, soil is a key component to solving Africa’s challenges to ensure food security and address climate change. Jones recognized the importance of incorporating existing indigenous knowledge on soil management effective soil management.

Leigh Winowiecki, soil scientist at ICRAF, speaks about the role of sustainable soil management for restoration of degraded land in East Africa and the Sahel. Photo by Susan Onyango/ICRAF

“Land degradation in the drylands of Sub-Saharan Africa continues to threaten food security and livelihoods,” said Leigh Winowiecki, an FTA researcher and soil scientist at ICRAF. “To that end, sustainable soil management is key to restoration of degraded land to transform lives and landscapes.”

Her presentation looked at the role of sustainable soil management for restoration of degraded land in East Africa and the Sahel, highlighting activities from the IFAD/EC-funded project ‘Restoration of degraded land for food security and poverty reduction in East Africa and the Sahel: taking successes in land restoration to scale’.

Read also: Soil inhabitants hold together the planet’s food system

When considering options for land restoration initiatives, it is important to understand what works where for whom. Variability in social, cultural, economic and biophysical environments greatly influence the results of such initiatives. ICRAF has developed tools that map soil organic carbon and soil erosion prevalence to provide relevant soil information aimed at land restoration interventions.

“We are working with development partners in Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali and Niger to implement and monitor on-farm land restoration interventions such as farmer-managed natural regeneration, soil and water conservation, micro-dosing of fertilizers, tree planting and agroforestry, use of Zai pits [small water harvesting pits] on farms and pest control,” added Winowiecki.

Tor-Gunnar Vagen of ICRAF presents on assessments of soil health. Photo by Susan Onyango/ICRAF

“We need to understand the systems we work in to design effective interventions to restore land health and reverse land degradation,” said FTA scientist Tor-Gunnar Vagen, who leads ICRAF’s GeoScience Lab.

“There are different ways to understand how the soil properties and their spatial distribution determine sensitivity to land degradation using tools such as tools such as the Land Degradation Surveillance Framework and earth observation. Assessments need to be spatially explicit and at scales relevant to farmers and land managers.”

Vagen discussed the importance of the soil health assessments for evidence-based decision using examples from Ethiopia and Kenya. He noted that, to effectively assess soil health at scale, indicators of soil need to be consistent and supported by analytical frameworks for modeling and mapping with high levels of rigor. They should also integrate biophysical and socio-economic indicators in landscapes.  Diagnostics can be used to assess interactions between social and ecological systems, including their resilience and their role as socioeconomic drivers of changes in soil health.

Vagen further explained ICRAF’s use of the SHARED approach to provide the government of Turkana County in Kenya, with information on land degradation and land/ecosystem health to support their planning and decision-making process. The Resilience Diagnostic and Decision Support Tool provides data an information for a wide-range of sectors including nutrition, education, security, livestock, land health, energy, irrigation, health, tourism and water, sanitation and hygiene.

The SHARED approach is demand driven, tailored and interactive engagement process for collaborative learning and co-negotiation of decision to achieve mutually agreed upon development outcomes. Three other counties in Kenya, as well as counties Zambia, Ethiopia and Tanzania have expressed interest in using the same processes and tools.

Joining Winowieki and Vagen on the panel were  Jones of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, Liesl Wiese of FAO, and Karen van Campenhout and Seppe Deckers both of the University of Leuven in Belgium. All agreed that soil management is key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, ensuring food security and rural development, and providing increased resilience to climate change in Africa.

By Susan Onyango, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World.


The session titled Sustainable soil management: the foundation for Africa’s future? was organized by the European Commission, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the World Agroforestry Centre and the University of Leuven at the European Development Days 2017.

This work is linked to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry. We thank all donors who support research in development through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund.

  • Home
  • A Three-Dimensional View on Soil Biogeochemistry: A Dataset for a Forested Headwater Catchment

A Three-Dimensional View on Soil Biogeochemistry: A Dataset for a Forested Headwater Catchment

Posted by

FTA

Authors: Gottselig, N.; Wiekenkamp, I.; Weihermüller, L.; Brüggemann, N.; Berns, A.E.; Bogena, H.R.; Borchard, N.; Klumpp, E.; Lücke, A.; Missong, A.; Pütz, T.; Vereecken, H.; Huisman, J.A.; Bol, R.

Current understanding of the variability in soil properties and their relationship to processes and spatial patterns in forested landscapes is limited due to the scarcity of datasets providing such information. Here we present a spatially highly resolved dataset that provides detailed information on the three-dimensional variability of biogeochemical properties in the Wüstebach catchment (western Germany), a long-term environmental observation site of the TERENO (Terrestrial Environmental Observatories) project. High-resolution soil sampling was conducted, and physical and biogeochemical soil parameters were recorded per horizon. The dataset is helpful in the analysis of the spatial heterogeneity in biogeochemical properties within soil horizons and with depth through the soil profile. In addition, it shows links between hydrological and biogeochemical properties and processes within the system. Overall, the dataset provides a high-resolution view into (re)cycling, leaching, and storage of nutrients on the catchment scale in a forested headwater catchment.

Publication Year: 2017

ISSN: 1537-2537

Source: Journal of Environmental Quality 46(1): 210-218

DOI: 10.2134/jeq2016.07.0276


Back to top

Sign up to our monthly newsletter

Connect with us