Our Vision
To support the harmonious living of people in their natural,
social and economic environments in a way that supports and
strengthensboth the peopleand theirenvironment.
To assist the rural poor to better their lives, to diversify their
livelihoods and to face their challenges with resilience.
Our Mission
Todesignandimplementinnovativeprojectsandprogrammes
which promote collaborative, pro-poor agricultural innovation,
working in partnership with other organizations and
communities.
Toworkatthecuttingedgeofdevelopmentmethodologyand
process integrating learning (training), research and
implementation into new models and processes emphasizing
synergyandintegration.
Promoting collaborative, pro-poor agricultural innovation
2003-2021
September 2021
Climate change and smallholder farmers.
Sustainable and productive use of land and water
The smallholder farming system
Smallholder
farming
system
Dryland cropping of
staples on small
patches of available
land (0,1-1ha)
Extensive
grazing of
livestock on
stover and veld
Intensive
homestead food
production;
vegetables, fruit,
small livestock
Feed
biomass
mulch
Manure
mulch
Fodder
manure
stover
Cover
crops,
non
staples
OM and
soil
fertility
Little to no
soil cover
Conservation Agriculture: Quantitative research support to the Smallholder Farmer Innovation
Programme: Intercropping, crop rotation, cover crops, fodder production
Livestock integration: Winter fodder supplementation, hay baling, conservation agreements, local
livestock auctions
Intensive homestead food production: Agroecology: Tunnels, trench beds, mixed cropping, mulching,
greywater management, fruit production, crop diversification
Community owned local water access: Watercommittees:Spring protection, water reticulation, pipes
and tanks at homestead level
Village savings and loan associations: Village based savings groups for savings and small loans for
productive activities
Local marketing and food systems: Monthly produce market stalls, organised per village, exploration of
further marketing options, small mills for maize
Soil and water conservation: village based learning groups in Climate change adaptation undertake
resource conservation activities
Activities
Conservation Agriculture
Water:rainfallandrunoff
Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Marc
hApril Total
s
Rainfall 2019/20 (mm);
Weather Station SAEON –
Didima
131,0172,6143,599,1 86,1 49,2 17,7699,2
Rainfall2020/21(mm);
Weather station SAEON -
Didima
103,4 207,0 204,7 409,2 197,1 101,648,01270,9
0,0
200,0
400,0
600,0
800,0
1000,0
1200,0
1400,0
mm rainfall
Monthly rainfall averagesin1029/20 and 2020/21 in
Bergville
rainfall (mm)
runoff CA plot (L)
runoff control plot
(L)
Bergville
(6 participants, 4villages)
Sum
1276
,7
76
,7
146
,1
%
rainfall conversion
6%
11
%
SKZN
(4 participants, 4villages)
Sum
505,8
12,3
18,4
%
rainfall conversion
2%
4%
Midlands
(3 participants, 3villages)
SUM
939
,1
37
,3
64
,1
%
rainfall conversion
4%
7%
-Overall rainfall for 2020/21 almost double that of 2019/20
-Periodicityisdifferent: For2020/21much more rainfalllater in the
season
-Late season rainfall (March-April) affected bean yields and caused
increased fungal load in maize grain
-Run-off averages across all CA trial
plots almost 50% lower than runoff in
the control plots (CA control maize-
mono cropped
Figure Right
and far right:
Installation of
run-off pans in
control and CA
trial plots,
respectively.
Figure Right: Signs of run-
off in a CA control M plot
in Bergville
Water productivity for CA maize grown as an intercrop with
beans or cowpeas is higher than single cropped CA maize and
Water productivity for CA plots is significantly higher than
conventionally tilled plots.
Despite annual differences in water productivity, these trends
remained the same across two seasons for all three areas
within KZN. WP for grain the M+CP intercropped plots is the
highest for both seasons
The close spacing used in the CA trial plots provides extra WP
benefits when compared to the ‘normal’ spacing used in
these villages
WP for grain and biomass follow the same trends, although
WP for the maize biomass is affected by the intercropping
with legumes. WP for biomass is the highest for the CA maize
only plots.
Cropping
options
WP
(kg/m3)
(kg/m3)
Ave
WP (
2
seasons)
2020
/21
(n=
11)
/20 (n=9)
CA
Maize (M)
2
,28
,11
1
,7
CA
-Maize, bean intercrop (M+B)
2
,50
,21
1
,9
CA
-Maize cowpea intercrop (M+CP)
2
,84
,43
2
,1
CA
-Maize control (M-CA control)
1
,1
,8
1
,0
Conventionally
tilled maize (M-
Conv
Control)
0
,75
,36
0
,6
Productivity:water productivity
MM+BM+CP M-CA
Control
M-Conv
Control
AverageofWP grain (kg/m3)2,28 2,50 2,84 1,01 0,75
AverageofWP biomass (kg/m3)2,56 2,29 1,28 0,82 0,88
0,00
0,50
1,00
1,50
2,00
2,50
3,00
WP kg/m3
Water productivity (grain and biomass of maize) for 11 participants in KZN
2020/21
WP was calculated for 11 participants across all three areas, for maize grain and biomass only.
WP for maize grown in a
multi-cropping rotation
CA system is much higher
than CA mono-cropped
maize or conventionally
tilled maize
Averageyieldsformaize
planted in intercropped
plots (M+B , M+Cp, M+Pk)
are much higher than the
yields in maize only plots
AverageyieldsfortheCA
trial plots (intercropped
and maize only averaged)
are much higher than
maize yields in the CA
controlplots(planted to
maize only in consecutive
years)
Productivity:Yields(Bergville)
Eqeleni Ezibomvi
ni Stulwane Vimbukh
alo
Average of
yield(t/ha)CA-M 8,35 7,29 2,21 6,67
Average of
yield(t/ha)CA-M
intercrop
9,95 12,62 4,25
Average of
yield(t/ha)CA 9,21 7,90 2,96 6,67
Average of
yield(t/ha)Control 4,71 6,21 2,75 1,98
0,00
2,00
4,00
6,00
8,00
10,00
12,00
14,00
t/ha
Maize yields Bergville 2020/21 (N=28)
Yieldadvantagesfor
maize through
intercropping and crop
rotationareevident
after a continuous CA
implementation cycle of
4 or more years
Productivity;Incomegeneration
Average income per participant (Midlands), selling green mealies,
is around R2 000 from an average area of around 300m2of maize.
This would equate to an income of around R66 600/ha.
This is a significantly higher income potential than selling dry
maize per ton, which would equate to around R10 400 for the
2,6t/ha average for these farmers.
80% of participants have sold some of their maize and actual
incomes ranged from as little as R120 (400m2) to a maximum of
R39 550 (2700m2)
Village
name
Income
from
Green
Maize
Total
income/area
Ozwathini
Gobinsimbi
R
1890,00
Hlathikhulu
R
1200,00
Mbalenhle
R
1650,00
Mkhakhasini
R
2700,00
Swidi
R
7620,00
R
15 060,00
Swayimane
Gobizembe
R
1800,00
Mayizekanye
1
R
17 965,00
Mayizekanye
2
R
5237,00
Mayizekanye
3
R
59 807,00
R
84 809,00
Grand
Total
R
99 869,00
Cover crop options:
1. Blocks or strips of SCC mix (fodder sorghum, sun hemp, sunflower), Dolichos and WCC mix (saia
oats, fodder rye and fodder radish)
2. Strips of fodder species, annual (Teff, turnips) and perennial (Lespedeza, Tall Fescue
Productivity:Livestockintegration-Cover crops
Grazing cover crops or stover in situ
Collection of stover for baling and grazing and
Cutting of veld grass for baling and stover
Productivity: Livestock integration – Grazing, fodder
Spring secured, small dam increased and
leveled, water point for cattle created, main
offtake underground slotted pipe below the
spring
Main offtake pipe layout
measured and planned with
a dumpy level
Participantsandcommunity
dig the ditch
Placement of header tank
planned, plinth built and tank
installed
Final spring strength
determined
Local Water access: Spring
protection and boreholesSlotted pipe
Digging offtake
forslottedpipe
covering with
bidem, stones
and soil
Header tank
Measuring main
pipe layout,
community
labour fordigging
the ditches
Appropriate tech and low cost options
Above Left to Right: Laying the piping along the edges of the fields, with branches towards
the different homesteads; fitting the inlet pipes to the 200l drums and installation of a float
valve in each drum
Household pipes and drums installed (technical advisor, MDF and community members)
Yield of spring
limited, only 200
liter /homestead/
day, Float valves
ensure allocation is
equal, header tank
fills overnight
Sustainable
abstraction, clear,
easy management
system, one person
manages opening
and closing of valves
Agroecological practices
including; composting, deep
and shallow trench beds,
mulching, mixed cropping,
natural pest and disease
control, crop diversification,
grey water management
Microclimate management;
shade cloth tunnels
Improved irrigation practices;
drip irrigation, irrigation
scheduling (chameleon
sensors)
Intensive homestead food production practices
Shade Cloth Tunnels
- Gardens
-<0,1ha,
-Medium cost, medium skills,
including learning and mentoring
-Low maintenance
DESCRIPTION
-20% grey shade net tunnels of
4mx6m in size are constructed using
‘kits’ and local materials
-The hoops are made of conduit
piping which is bent using a “jig” a
metal frame
-The hoops are placed directly into
the soil-avoiding any construction
and then the netting is placed over
the hoops and sewn on.
-The tunnel is anchored on both
sides
-Inside the tunnel are three trench
beds 1mx5m and each is supplied
with a 20l bucket drip kit
-Mixed cropping is practiced in the
tunnel and greywater can also be
used.
Netting is sewn onto the two end hoops
before putting them up for the back and
front-where a door is included
The ends of the tunnel are anchored for
extra wind protection
A recently completed tunnel with a bucket
drip kit installed
A functioning mixed cropping
tunnel
The hoops are fitted directly into holes in the
ground; netting is pulled over the hoops and
secured by covering it with soil
A metal jig is used to bend the hoops
The tunnel is measured out exactly using a rope
template
Bucket Drip kits
-Gardens
-<0,1ha,
-Medium cost, medium skills, including learning
and mentoring
-Medium maintenance drippers need to be
checked and cleaned regularly ; medium labour
intensive to set up, maintenance easy.
DESCRIPTION
-Stones and sand are placed in a bucket
(20L) for filtration of greywater to be used
in dripping system
-The drip kit is assembled on site making
your own string drippers and choosing
width of lines and spacing of drippers.
-2 lines 30cm apart and 5 m long is good for
a trench bed and provides 4mm of
irrigation.
-Wateringisdoneonadailybasis
A 210l drum drip irrigation system used in a
tunnel
A well functioning string dripper that makes a
wetted circle around the dripper
Mulching the beds adds to efficient water
management
A bucket drip kit irrigating a 1mx 3m trench
bed with mixed crops
Attaching the dripper lines to the feeder pipe
from the bucket
Making the string drippers
Bucket with stones; a cloth bag of
sand is added on top to complete
the filter
TowerGardens
-Greywater management
-Gardens
-<0,1ha,
-Low -medium cost, low-medium skills,
including learning and mentoring, local
resources
-Low maintenance but bags will need to
be replaced after some time (3-5 years)
DESCRIPTION
-Towergardensarebuiltupfromthegroundby
using four poles and wrapping a tube of 80%
shade cloth around these poles.
-In the centre of the bed, a stone column is built
up using a bottomless bucket as a ring
-The bed is filled in with a pre-prepared mixture
(1/3 soil, 1/3 manure, 1/3 ash (It needs a lot of
ash to clean the greywater used)
-Small holes are made in the side of the bag and
seedlings are planted vertically into these small
holes-usually spinach or another leafy
vegetable
-The top of the bed can be used for planting
other crops tomatoes are good as they can be
staked to the poles.
-The bed is watered by pouring the greywater
onto the stone column in the middle
Watering into the central stone column
Building up the tower-filling in the soil mix
around the stone column and moving it up
Placement of the stone column in the small
bottomless bucket in the middle of the bed
Making the soil, manure ash mixture for
filling the tower garden
A ‘mature’ tower garden planted to spinach
and tomatoes
Making the small holes in the side of the bag
for planting seedlings
Planting legumes, green manures
-Gardens, fields
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha, >2ha
-Medium cost (seed and plants), local resources,
-Labour intensive
DESCRIPTION
Legumes are important as they fix Nitrogen from the air
and improve soil fertility and soil health for neighbouring
and following crops.
They can be planted with other crops or in rotation
Examples of warm season legumes are sugar beans,
runner beans, cowpeas, Jugo beans, ground nuts,
Dolichos (Lab-Lab), Velvet beans (Mucuna), Jack bean,
mung beans, chickpeas, lentils, Lucerne and Sun hemp
Examples of cool season legumes are; peas, broad
beans, vetch, and clover
Green manures are planted to be incorporated into the
soil, just before flowering to maximise the nutrients (
including Nitrogen) that can be added to the soil for
following crops. Greenmanuresareoften legumes(such
as vetch and clover), grains and grasses (such as black
oats and fodder rye), brassicas (such as forage radish,
turnips, mustard and canola) and chenopods (such as
Amaranthus)
-Rainfall: >150mm <1200mm/year
-Temperature: >5°C
-Topography: 5%-25%
-Soil: all types – although soils that are too
sandy or too clayey are difficult to manage
Green manure cover crops; cool season Saia
oats, fodder rye and fodder radish
Dolichos (lab-Lab) beans planted as a green
manure cover crop in rotation with maize
Cowpeas intercropped with maize
Broad beans, Amaranthus, Lucerne and red clover
Trenchbeds
-Gardens
-<0,1ha,
-Low cost, local resources
-Easy to do and maintain; labour intensive
DESCRIPTION
-A bed is dug out to 60-80cm depth,
around 1 m wide and 1-10m long.
-It is filled with a range of organic matter;
manure, dry material ,green material and
soil
-Other layers could include tins at the
bottom for iron and water holding, or
sticks
-Bone meal and lime can be added to
increase fertility
-Bones, skins and feathers can be added
for P
-Ash can be added for K
-The bed is built up in a small basin,
planted and mulched
-Rainfall: >150mm/year
-Temperature:>5°C
-Topography: 0,5%-5%
-Soil: all types
The trench beds iare built up with a shallow ditch around it and a basin
inside the bed and planted to seeds and seedlings
If available, a layer of green organic matter e.g. weeds, leaves,
vegetable peelings and remains is added after the layer of dry organic
matter
Then layers of organic matter are added e.g
maize stover, leaves , weeds, grass
Then a layer of manure is added, followed
by some top soil. This is watered and the
process is started again
Trenches are dug 60cm-1m deep . The bottom
layer is made up of old tins or branches
Liquid Manure
- Gardens
-<0,1ha,
-Low cost, local resources, low labour
-Easy and quick to do.
DESCRIPTION
-It boosts fertility for growing plants and
helps to balance small deficiencies
-Green liquid manures/ tea- use weed,
banana stems, comfrey etc and place in a
bucket of water to ferment. Dilute 1:4 and
use
-Liquid manure- use of manures, reasonably
fresh (cow, goat, poultry) and ferment in a
closed bucket for 7-10 days prior to diluting
1:4 for use.
Chopping weeds to add to a liquid manure brew
Liquid manure containers need to be covered to avoid
evaporation of some of the important nutrients
Animal manure used as liquid manure; chicken,
goat and cattle manure are good sources the
fresher the better
Chopping banana stems as the basis of a green
tea or plant based liquid manure
Mixed cropping
-Gardens, fields
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha, >2ha
-Low cost (Seed and plants), local resources,
-Easy todo
DESCRIPTION
-Mixed, cropping and companion planting; entails planting different
crop types together for pest and disease control
-Either multifunctional plants with vegetables , different families of
vegetables (leaf, roof, legume, fruit, or a general mixture
-Do not plant same family together- brassicas (cabbage, broccoli,
cauliflower, kale..) Solanaceae (tomatoes, potatoes, brinjal, peppers),
cucurbits (pumpkingourds, butternut, melons, cucumber)…
Cabbage and spinach intercrop with marigolds and spring onions planted around
the edges
Trench beds with lines of cabbage, spinach and
tomato Traditional maize pumpkin and bean intercrop
A trench bed with different leafy greens; spinach,
beetroot, Chenopodia, amaranthus and sweet
potato
A mixture of many different types; maize, kale,
radish, marigolds, spinach and okra
Natural pest and
disease control
-Gardens, fields
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha
-Low cost; local resources,
-Easy to medium labour intensity,
knowledge intensive
DESCRIPTION
-Integrated garden management; mixed
cropping, multi-funtional plants, good
soil fertility management, pest replant
plants, predator attractant plants
-Brews …
Integrated garden management; water and soil management, diversified crops,
perennial and annual mix
Sticky bands on trees control ants, beer traps control slugs and
snails, collars round seedlings control cutworms
Pest predators control pests by ingesting them and or laying
eggs Umbelliferae such as onions and
leeks attract pest predators-e.g.
wasps,
Marigolds protect against root knot
nematodes
Pest control brews; soap chilli garlic mixes, parrafin
and onions mixes for soft bodied insects
Brews area sprinkled onto plants-both tops and bottoms of leaves to ensure
good coverage
Humidity-Seed will absorb moisture from
the air. Want to store them at <10%
moisture content in dry or airtight
environment Avoid plastic
Light shortens seed life– dark jars, dark
room...Even darknessisrequired
Temperature-Seeds last longer in cold but
not freezing conditions
Seeds such as tomatoes, cucumbers, can
be fermented with water and sugar for
seed health and germination
Further drying can be done with silica gel
Storage with ash, lime, and crush dried
leaves of certain plants e.g. aloeSeed life doubles
when storage
temperature is
lowered by 5ºC
Seed processing and
storage
For every 1%
less
moisture in
the seed the
seed life
doubles.
-Gardens, fields,
-<0,1ha, -0,1-1ha, >2ha
-Low cost, local resources
-Easy to do and maintain; somewhat labour
and knowledge intensive
Use silicon to draw water from
seed and ash for storage of dry
seeds
Layout of a small home based seed bank;
drying racks, paper packets and glass jars
Store seed in glass containers
Fermentation of tomato and gooseberry seed for storage and
good germination
Store seed and gourds in a cool, dry, dark place
Fruit production
-Gardens, orchards
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha >1ha
-Medium cost (Seed and plants),
local resources,
-Labour and knowledge intensive
DESCRIPTION
-Propagation from seed, cuttings,
grafting to provide fruit throughout
the year (and for sale)
-Organic methods of pest control
-Care taken with planting; deep fertile
basins, with rainwater harvesting
-Some trees will need irrigation
especially when young
A home made fruit fly trap using oranges
and sugar water
Use bunds and basins to make full use of rainwater
for trees
Plant trees in deep holes filled with compost
and create a basin for irrigation with mulching
Use organic remedies such as pyrethrum, mineral oil
and lime sulfur. Use rooting powder for propagation
of cuttings
Propagate from seed; granadillas, avocados,
mangoes, gooseberries, and tree tomatoes
Tree tomatoes are propagated form seed are high in Vitamin C
and fruit in March-May when there is very little other fruit
Irrigation of orange trees, basins
and bunds hold more water