Deliverable 8 Interim Report

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Water Research Commission
Prepared By:
Project team led by Mahlathini Development Foundation.
Project Number: K5/2719/4
Project Title: Collaborative knowledge creation and mediation strategies for the dissemination of
Water and Soil Conservationpractices and Climate Smart Agriculture in smallholder farming
systems.
Deliverable No.8:Interim Report: Quantitative and qualitative indicators and knowledge mediation
products
Date: August 2019
Deliverable
8
WRC K4/2719 Deliverable 8. August 2019Mahlathini Development Foundation
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Submitted to:
Executive Manager: Water Utilisation in Agriculture
Water Research Commission
Pretoria
Project team:
Mahlathini Development Foundation
Erna Kruger
Mazwi Dlamini
Samukelisiwe Mkhize
Temakholo Mathebula
Phumzile Ngcobo
Matthew Evans
Institute of Natural Resources NPC
Brigid Letty
Rural Integrated Engineering (Pty) Ltd
Christiaan Stimie
Rhodes University Environmental Learning Research Centre
Lawrence Sisitka
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CONTENTS
FIGURES 4
TABLES 6
1OVERVIEW OF PROJECT AND DELIVERABLE8
Contract Summary8
Project objectives8
Deliverables 8
Overview of Deliverable 89
2COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE AND DEMONSTRATION SITES12
Swayimane_SKZN 13
Gobizembe shade cloth tunnel construction13
Installation of sensors16
Ntabamhlophe; CA report17
Eqeleni and Ezibomvini- Bergville-KZN19
Gardening and fodder experimentation update19
Water productivity for Tunnel experimentation21
Water issues- Ezibomvini25
Conservation Agriculture monitoring in Bergville25
Soil health tests parameters42
PLFA ANALYSIS52
NITROGEN 54
COMPARISON OF SH TEST RESULTS 2015-201855
Alice/King Williams Town- EC 57
Introduction 57
Progress thus far57
Sedawa, Turkey, Mametja - Limpopo59
Resilience snapshots60
Monitoring of field cropping and CA in Limpopo66
Soil and water conservation at homestead level71
Small earth dams; Turkey, Sedawa77
Continuation of water issues in Sedawa85
Follow -up on organic mango production training85
3DECISION SUPPORT SYSTEM89
Development of the decision support tool/survey89
Technologies used89
Implementation details90
The draft interface of the decision support tool92
4Capacity building and publications98
Post graduate students98
Networking and presentations98
VIA conference98
Maize Trust Board visit to Bergville99
QCTO preparation workshop for Agroecology curriculum100
Publications 101
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FIGURES
Figure 1: Left; Preparing the deep and shallow trench beds for the tunnel. And right;the deep trench
on the right, shallow trench in the middle and raised bed on the left of the picture.......................14
Figure 2: Tunnel construction. Top left; the net while being opened, Top Right; the jig on top of the
net, Below Left; the poles being bent using the jig and Below Right; sewing of the net onto the poles.
..............................................................................................................................................................15
Figure 3: Tunnel construction. Left; the placement of the arches and Right; pulling the netting over
the arches to create the shade cloth structure...................................................................................15
Figure 4: From left to right; sensor cables installed at different depths, soil replaced and pushed in,
sensor cable covered with bottle..........................................................................................................16
Figure 5: Chameleon readings inside the tunnel (Above) and outside the tunnel (Below) at
Gobizembe (Swayimane) for June 2019..............................................................................................17
Figure 6: Above left to right: Examples of tower gardens planted in Bergville.................................20
Figure 7: Weighing Chinese cabbage and green peppers during yield determinations for this
experiment. ..........................................................................................................................................23
Figure 8: Chameleon sensor readings for Phumelele Hlongwane’s trench bed inside her tunnel (July
2019).....................................................................................................................................................24
Figure 9: Gravimetric water content at 30cm depth for different cropping options (Phumelele
Hlongwane, 2017-2018).......................................................................................................................37
Figure 10: Comparison of gravimetric water content results between 2017-2018 and 2018-2019
season, for CA trial and control plots for Phumelele Hlongwane (Ezibomvini).................................39
Figure 9: Comparison of the SH scores for Bergville participants (N=10) with microbial respiration
and organic carbon...............................................................................................................................45
Figure 10: % OM for different CA crop combinations in Bergville; 2018-2019..................................47
Figure 11: Comparison of Soil health indicators for Ezibomvini across two cropping seasons; 2017/18
and 2018/19 .........................................................................................................................................48
Figure 12: A comparison of % aggregate stability for soil health samples from Ezibomviniand
Ndunwana ............................................................................................................................................52
Figure 13: PLFA results for microbial populations from Ezibomvini and Ndunwana soil health
samples; Bergville 2018-2019..............................................................................................................53
Figure 14:Comparison of immediate release N and Rand value of inorganic Nitrogen substituted for
organic N for 5 villages in Bergville; 2018-2019..................................................................................55
Figure 15: Soil health data for 5 participants from Bergville;2015-2018...........................................56
Figure 18: Chameleon data for the trench bed inside the tunnel: EC July 2019................................58
Figure 19: Chameleon data for the trench bed outside the tunnel: EC July 2019 .............................58
Figure 20: Chameleon data for the raised bed outside the tunnel ....................................................58
Figure 21: Comparison of crops outside (left) and inside (right) the tunnel......................................59
Figure 22:Above and alongside) are examples ofmaize planted using CA principles in Sedawa and
Turkey villages......................................................................................................................................66
Figure 23:Above left: Mpelesi Sekgobela’s (Turkey)CA intercropping plot (maize and bambara
groundnut), planted across a slope for erosion control and water retention and Above right: Her
field with maize, cowpea and pumpkin intercropping.......................................................................67
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Figure 24: Above Left: Meisie Mokoena’s (Mametja) conventionally planted maize and cowpea plot;
most of the maize didn’t germinate and Above right; a maize, cowpeaand pumpkin intercrop
planted in furrows and ridges, with addition of compost..................................................................68
Figure 25:Above: In Meisie’s field she tried a number of different practices; different planting times,
intercropping and monocropping, mulching, stone lines and furrows and ridges...............................68
Figure 26: Right above: Miriam’s watermelon yield. She sells them at R10/ melon in her village and
will make around R700, to use towards household needs. Right below: Miriam drying and preparing
her maize..............................................................................................................................................69
Figure 27:Right clockwise: Maria’s maize and pumpkin intercrop, awatermelonand some of her
sorghum harvest...................................................................................................................................69
Figure 28: Right clockwise: Mmatshego’s plot planted to peanuts and jugo beans, her jugo bean
harvest and peanuts being harvested and dried. ...............................................................................70
Figure 29: Above left: A good stand of CA maize in Abridge Tshetlha’s field in Sedawa and Above
right: Makibeng Moradiya providingsome green maize to her friend and local facilitatorChristina
Thobejane.............................................................................................................................................71
Figure 30: Right: the ditch draining water away from houses at the top-end of the yard................72
Figure 31: Right and Far right: the two small groups of participants busy with their water flow maps
and discussing suggestions for improvement.....................................................................................73
Figure 32: Right: One of the sub groups of participants busy constructing their line level ..............74
Figure 33: Right: A stoneline constructed as close as possible to the top of a slope as a starting point,
note that it is keyed in and “slants” slightly uphill. Manure has been worked into the soil above the
stone line, for planting. Far Right: Two stone lines constructedaround 2 meters apart and planted
to Sesbania sesban seedlings...............................................................................................................75
Figure 34: Right: Putting in the final completion touches to a check dam built across a gulley forming
at the top end of the garden/field.......................................................................................................75
Figure 35: Right: Digging the furrow for the shallow trenches on a contour marked using a line level
and Far right; the packed and planted (orange fleshed sweet potato) shallow trench line in the field.
..............................................................................................................................................................76
Figure 36 Right: The breach in Matshego’s small earth dam caused by heavy rains and Far Right;
deposited on top of her trench beds built below the dam wall. Damage was alsocaused in the tunnel
..............................................................................................................................................................78
Figure 37: Above left to right: Measuring out a circle to change the dam shape from a rectangle
and then shaving the perpendicular walls to be at an angle of roughly 35 degrees. Marking out a m2
area and then evenly distributing 12,5 kg of bentonite over the are and carefully mixing in the
bentonite into the top 10cm of the soil on the bank..........................................................................80
Figure 38: Right: Tamping down the finalised mixture on the wall and Far-right. Replacing a layer of
soil over this bentonite mixture. This layer in our case was only about 5-10cm deep - and not 30cm
as recommended, as this would reduce the volume of this very small dam dramatically...............81
Figure 39: Right; Esinah’s dam after the bentonite was worked into the walls and floor of the pond
..............................................................................................................................................................82
Figure 40: Chris explaining the dam construction steps and Betty translating....................................83
Figure 41: Left, marking out grids, top right; bags placed on grids & bottom right, bentonite spread.
..............................................................................................................................................................84
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Figure 42: Left, compacting the dam & right, water siting in the dam.................................................85
Figure 43: Right: Clonecia discusses with the learning group members what she remembers from the
Organic Mango Production training at Hoedspruit Hub.....................................................................86
Figure 44: Right:Norah’s mangoes – pruned, with water harvesting basins and compost added...87
Figure 45: Above and alongside: Matsehgo’s compost pile and mango tree prunings. A pruned tree
with water harvesting basin, and mulching of tree leaves.................................................................88
Figure 46: Right: Mpelesi’s mango nursery and Far right: a hard pruning done for an old unproductive
mango tree...........................................................................................................................................88
Figure 47: Near right: A pruned mango tree, here incorporated into a trench bed design for inclusion
of organic matter, mulching and water harvesting. Middle right: A bottleof home-made mango
juice and Far Right: Christina’s mango nursery...................................................................................89
Figure 48: Above Clockwise from top left: Visiting Ntombakhe Zikode’s field in Eqeleni where a plot
of winter cover crops is seen in the fore ground; Her maize crop maturing; the farmers’ meeting with
the board members and a view of a portion of the farmer centre for the village..........................100
TABLES
Table 1: Deliverables for the research period; completed...................................................................8
Table 2: CoPs’ established in three provinces (October 2018-January 2019)....................................12
Table 3: Water productivity results for Phumelele Hlongwane; Feb-May 2019................................24
Table 4: Water productivity results for Phumelele Hlongwane; June-September 2018...................25
Table 5: Rainfall data for 6 villages in the Bergville site; September 2018-May 2019 ......................26
Table 6: Run-off results for 4 participants across Bergville; 2018-2019.............................................27
Table 7: Run-off results or different cropping options within the CA trial; Stulwane 2018-2019.....28
Table 8: Percentage rainfall convertedto runoff for CA trial and conventional controlplots in
Stulwane; 2018-2019............................................................................................................................28
Table 9: Run-off results or different cropping options within the CA trial; Ezibomvini 2018-2019..29
Table 10: Percentage rainfall converted to runoff for CA trial and conventional control plots in
Ezibomvini; 2018-2019.........................................................................................................................30
Table 11: Run-off results or different cropping options within the CA trial; Eqeleni 2018-2019......30
Table 12: Percentage rainfall converted to runoff for CA trial and conventional control plots in
Eqeleni; 2018-209.................................................................................................................................31
Table 13: Run-off results or different cropping options within the CA trial; Ndunwana 2018-201931
Table 14: Percentage rainfall converted to runoff for CA trial and conventional control plots in
Ndunwana; 2018-2019.........................................................................................................................32
Table 15: Soil quality scores provided by the Cornell soil assessment framework for 5 participants in
Stulwane; 2018-2019............................................................................................................................34
Table 16: Gravimetric soil water sampling dates, compared to average monthly rainfall data.......36
Table 17: Bulk density results for three CA participants.......................................................................41
Table 18: Summary of learning sessions conducted: May-July 2019.................................................59
ABBREVIATIONS
AEZAgroecological Zones
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ATIAgricultural training Institute
CA Conservation Agriculture
CCA Climate change adaptation
CRA Climate Resilient Agriculture
CSAClimate Smart Agriculture
CSAGClimate Systems Action Group
DAEDepartment of Environmental Affairs
DSSDecision Support System
EToReference evapotranspiration
Etc Actual evapotranspiration
MDF Mahlathini Development Foundation
QCTOQuality Council for Trade and Occupations
RIEngRural Integrated Engineering
S&WCSoil and water conservation
UJ University of Johannesburg
UKZNUniversity of KwaZulu Natal
VIA Virtual Irrigation Academy
WP Water producivity
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InterimReport:Quantitativeand
qualitative indicatorsandknowledge
mediationproducts
1OVERVIEW OF PROJECT AND DELIVERABLE
Contract Summary
Project objectives
1. To evaluate and identify best practice options for CSA and Soil and Water Conservation
(SWC) in smallholder farming systems, in two bioclimatic regions in South Africa. (Output 1)
2. To amplify collaborative knowledge creation of CSA practices with smallholder farmers in
South Africa (Output 2)
3. To test and adapt existing CSA decision support systems (DSS) for the South African smallholder
context (Outputs 2,3)
4. To evaluate the impact of CSA interventions identified through the DSS by piloting interventions
in smallholder farmer systems, considering water productivity, social acceptability and farm-scale
resilience (Outputs 3,4)
5. Visual and proxy indicators appropriate for a Payment for Ecosystems based model are tested at
community level for local assessment of progress and tested against field and laboratory analysis
of soil physical and chemical properties, and water productivity (Output 5)
Deliverables
Table 1: Deliverables for the research period; completed
No
Deliverable
Description
Target date
FINANCIAL YEAR 2017/2018
1
Report: Desktop review of
CSA and WSC
Desktop review of current science, indigenous and traditional
knowledge, and best practice in relation toCSA and WSC in the South
African context
1 June 2017
2
Report on stakeholder
engagement and case study
development and site
identification
Identifying and engaging with projects and stakeholders
implementing CSA and WSC processes and capturing case studies
applicable to prioritized bioclimatic regions
Identification of pilot research sites
1 September
2017
3
Decision support system for
CSA in smallholder farming
developed (Report)
Decision support system for prioritization of best bet CSA options in
a particular locality; initial database and models. Review existing
models, in conjunction with stakeholder discussions for initial criteria
15 January
2018
FINANCIAL YEAR: 2018/2019
4
CoPs and demonstration
sites established (report)
Establish communities of practice (CoP)s including stakeholders and
smallholder farmers in each bioclimatic region.5. With each CoP,
identify and select demonstration sites in each bioclimatic region and
pilot chosen collaborative strategies for introduction of a range of
CSA and WSC strategies in homestead farming systems(gardens and
fields)
1 May 2018
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5
Interim report: Refined
decision support system for
CSA in smallholder farming
(report)
Refinement of criteria and practices, introduction of new ideas and
innovations, updating of decision support system
1 October
2018
6
Interim report: Results of
pilots, season 1
Pilot chosen collaborative strategies for introduction of a range of
CSA and WSC strategies, working with the CoPs in each site and the
decisions support system. Create knowledge mediation productions,
manuals, handouts and other resources necessary for learning and
implementation.
31 January
2019
FINANCIAL YEAR 2019/2020
7
Interim report:
Development of indicators,
proxies and benchmarks
and knowledge mediation
processes
Document and record appropriate visual indicators and proxies for
community level assessment, work with CoPs to implement and
refine indicators.
Analysis of contemporary approaches to collaborative knowledge
creation within the agricultural sector. Develop appropriate
knowledge mediation processes for each CoP. Develop CoP decision
support systems
1 May 2019
8
Report: Appropriate
quantitative measurement
procedures for verification
of the visual indicators.
Set up farmer and researcher level experimentation. Link proxies and
benchmarks to quantitative research to verify and formalise. Explore
potential incentive schemes and financing mechanisms Conduct
survey of present knowledge mediation processes in community and
smallholder settings
1 August
2019
9
Interim report: results of
pilots, season 2
Pilot chosen collaborative strategies for introduction of a range of
CSA and WSC strategies, working with the CoPs in each site and the
decisions support system. Create knowledge mediation productions,
manuals, handouts and other resources necessary for learning and
implementation.
31 January
2020
FINANCIAL YEAR 2020/2021
10
Final report: Results of
pilots, season
Pilot chosen collaborative strategies for introduction of a range of
CSA and WSC strategies, working with the CoPs in each site and the
decisions support system. Create knowledge mediation productions,
manuals, handouts and other resources necessary for learning and
implementation.
1 May 2020
11
Final Report: Consolidation
and finalisation of decision
support system
Finalisation of criteria and practices, introduction of new ideas and
innovations, updating of decision support system
3 July 2020
12
Final report -Summarise
and disseminate
recommendations for best
practice options.
Summarise and disseminate recommendations for best practice
options for knowledge mediation and CSA and SWC techniques for
prioritized bioclimatic regions
7 August
2020
Overview of Deliverable 8
This report includes aspects of both deliverable 7 and 8 and focuses on the development of knowledge
mediation products; a facilitation manual, associated farmer level learning materials and visual aids
and a web-based survey form for the decision support system. In addition, progress with the
exploration of qualitative and quantitative indicators is provided. Farmer level experimentation with
practices is ongoing and progress is reported on.
The design of the decision support system (DSS) is seen as anongoing process divided into three
distinct parts:
Practices: Collation, review, testing, and finalisation of those CSA practices to be included.
Allows for new ideas and local practices to be included over time. This also includes linkages
and reference to external sourcesof technical information around climate change, soils, water
management etc and how this will be done, as well as modelling of the DSS;
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Process: Through which climate smart agricultural practices are implemented at smallholder
farmer level.This also includes the facilitation component, communities of practice (CoPs),
communication strategies and capacity building and
Monitoring and evaluation:local and visual assessment protocols for assessing
implementation and impact of practices as well as processes used. This also includes site
selection and quantitative measurements undertaken tosupport the visual assessment
protocols and development of visual and proxy indicators for future use in incentive-based
support schemes for smallholder farmers.
Activities in this three-month period have included:
Practices activities: Inclusion of learning processes, experimentation and learning materials
towards compiling practice summaries for small dam construction and livestock fodder
production and supplementation and design of a web-based survey/platform for the decision
support system.
Process activities: Continuation of farmer level experimentation in theEC (3 villages), Bergville
(2 villages) and Ntabamhlophe in KZN and in Limpopo (2 villages).CoP engagement has
consisted of hosting of the Maize Trust board in Bergville to present the work on CCCA and CA
for smallholders in thearea, a presentation at the Virtual Irrigation Academy symposium in
Pretoria, participation in a QCTO preparation workshop for development of a national
agroecology curriculum at University of Johannesburg and preparation of presentations for
the development of a National Risk and Vulnerability Framework for the Department of
Environmental Affairs and the Howard College Symposium at Ukulinga (UKZN) on partnerships
for climate resilience
Monitoring and evaluation:Further testing of the resilience snapshot methodology in
Limpopo.
A chronology of activities undertaken is presented in the table below.
Activity
Description
Team
Small dams
construction, soil
and water
conservation
Experimentation with small dam
construction parameters and use
of bentonite as a sealant in
Limpopo
Erna, Chris, Mazwi, Betty
Gardening practices
Review and workshops in in 3
viallgeson agroecological
practices including trench beds,
mixed cropping, natural pest and
disease control and seed saving
Betty, Erna
Fodder
supplementation
Learning process and
experimentationdesignfor
fodder production and
supplementation in three villages
in Bergville
Erna, Brigid Letty,
Phumzile, Mazie,
Nonkanyiso, Temakholo,
Samukelisiwe
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VIA presentation
Presentation of chameleon
sensor results and community
level learning process
Samukelisiwe, Erna
Chameleon sensor
installation at
Swayimane and
Madzikane
(Midlands and
SKZN)
A workshop was held with the
learning groupto outline the
process of installation, the
experimentation process and use
of chameleon sensors
Temakholo,
Nontokhozo, Lulama,
Mazwi
Gardening
experimentation
process; Bergville
Monitoring and small learning
group workshops around the
tunnels, tower gardens, irrigation
scheduling, trench beds and
mixed cropping. Updates on
water issues progress
Phumzile, Samukelisiwe,
Web-based survey
for DSS
Development of a web-based
platform and survey for individual
application of the DSS
Erna, Matthew Evans
Water content and
soil health
Collection and analysis of data
Erna, Lulama,
Nonkanyiso
Capacity building and publications:
Research presentations and chapters:
oMazwi Dlamini M Phil (PLAAS UWC-yr 2); Continuation with fieldwork
oSamukelisiweMkhize-PhD (Human Sciences): She has withdrawn from her internship
at MDF and her PhD registration for personal reasons
Publications:
oWater Wheel: Submission of a series of 3 articles: CCAcommunity process, The impact
of CRA on rural livelihoods and the smallholder farmer CRA decision support system
Cross visits:
Stakeholder engagement: -
oMaize Trust Board member visit to Bergville for CA implementation withsmallholders
oQCTO engagement workshop for design of a national curriculum in Agroecology (UJ)
oSubmission of inputs for development of a National Risk and Vulnerability Framework
(CSAG and DEA)
oDiscussion of linkages with the Umngeni Resilience Project (Prof Mabaudi UKZN)
Conference papers and presentations: -
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2COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE AND DEMONSTRATION SITES
The work with the CoPs and in the demonstration sites is ongoing. The table below summarises the
progress to date.
Table 2: CoPs’ established in three provinces (October 2018-January 2019)
*Note: Activities in bold under Demonstration Sites, were conducted during this time frame
Province
Site/Area;
villages
Demonstration
sites
CoPs
Collaborative strategies
KZN
Ntabamhlophe
- CCA workshop 1-5
-Monitoring and PIA
-Monitoring and
review of CA
experimentation
-Farmers w NGO
support (Lima RDF)
- Tunnels and drip kits
-Individual experimentation with
basket of options
Ezibomvini/
, Eqeleni
- CCA workshop 1-4
-Water issues
workshops 1,2
-Water issues follow-up
-CCA workshop 5
-Water issues
continuation
-Monitoring and
review of CA
experimentation
-Fodder and
supplementation
learning process
-CA open days, cross
visits (LandCare,
DARD, ARC, GrainSA),
LM Agric forums, ….
-Tunnels (Quantitative
measurements
-CA farmer experimentation
(Quantitative measurements) case
studies
-Individual experimentation with
basket of options; monitoring review
and re-planning
-Livestock integration learning group
and experimentation focus
Swayimane
- CCA workshop 1-4
-Monitoring, review
and re planning
-Monitoring of garden,
tunnel and CA
experimentation
-CA open days
-Umgungundlovu DM
agriculture forum
- CA farmer experimentation
-gardening level experimentation;
tunnel, trench beds drip kits etc.
Madzikane
-CCA workshop 1-4
--Set up of gardening
and tunnel
experimentation
-CA open days
-Madzikane
stakeholder forum
-CA farmer experimentation
-gardening level experimentation;
tunnel, trench beds drip kits etc
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Below summary reports for progress in each area is presented.
Swayimane_SKZN
Written by Temakholo Mathebula and Nontokozo Mdletshe
Gobizembe shade cloth tunnel construction
The learning group in the area took some time to focus on the gardening processes; being involved in
field cropping until the end of the cropping season (March -April). The group decided to host the
experimentation process for tunnels at Mrs Mcinyana’shousehold, based on the availability of fencing
and water and Mrs Mcinyana’s agreement to look after the crops in the tunnel. She is also situated
close to other groups members. Initially the trench beds were dug in a different homestead-but the
presence of large rocks underground negated this site as an option.
The three trench beds were prepared prior to erectingthe tunnel materials were delivered a day or
two before the construction to allow group members to sew the netting onto the frames (6th April
2019).
Trench beds preparations
Inside the tunnel the three beds were prepared in slightly different ways to allow for comparison;
Limpopo
Mametja (Sedawa,
Turkey)
- CCA workshop 1-5
-Water issues
workshops 1-2, follow-
up
-Poultry production
learning and mentoring
-CA learning and
mentoring
-Monitoring, review
and re-planning
-S&WC and small dams
learning and
experimentation
-Monitoring of CA
experimentation
-Agroecology
network
(AWARD/MDF)
-Maruleng DM
-Review of CSA implementation and
re-planning for next season
Tunnels (Quantitative measurements
-CA farmer experimentation
(Quantitative measurements) case
studies
-Individual experimentation with
basket of options
-water committee, plan for agric
water provision
Lepelle
Water issues
workshops 1-2
-
-water committee, plan for agric
water provision
Tzaneen
(Sekororo-
Lourene)
- CCA workshop 1-2
-Assessment of farmer
experimentation
Farmers learning
group
-Tunnels and drip kits
EC
Alice/Middledrift
area
-CCA workshop 1-5-
Monitoring, review and
re-planning
-Set up tunnel
experimentation
process
Imvotho Bubomi
Learning Network
(IBLN) -ERLC, Fort
Cox, Farmers, Agric
Extension services,
NGOs
-Monitoring and review of
implementation of CSA practices and
experimentation
-Training and mentoring _CA, furrow
irrigation, ….
-Planning for further implementation
and experimentation and quantitative
measurements
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-One deep trench bed
-One shallow trench bed and
-One raised bed (the ‘normal’ practice in the area
Mrs Mncinyanawas advised to also follow the same process for the beds outside the tunnel as her
control so that we can compare results from inside and out of the tunnel.
Figure 1: Left; Preparing the deep and shallow trench beds for the tunnel. And right;the deep trench on the right, shallow
trench in the middle and raised bed on the left of the picture.
Tunnel construction
The metal conduit poles were bent to make the arches forthe tunnel using a jig and the netting was
sewed onto the two end arches to make the back and the front of the tunnel. It was then possible to
put up the arches, and pull and secure the rest of the netting for the tunnel. The group worked
together and the tunnel was easily constructed in one day.
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Figure 2: Tunnel construction. Top left; the net while being opened, Top Right; the jig on top of the net, Below Left; the
poles being bent using the jig and Below Right; sewing of the net onto the poles.
After sewing, theslots in the ground were opened using a steel column which was hammered into the
ground to a depth of around 40cm, for the arches to be well anchored into the soil.
Figure 3: Tunnel construction. Left; the placement of the arches and Right; pulling the netting over the arches to create
the shade cloth structure.
Planting.
A mixture of vegetables and herb seedlings were
bought for planting in the tunnel (9th April 2019);
kale, lettuce, red cabbage, Chinese cabbage,
broccoli, beetroot, turnips, leeks, parsley,rocket,
thyme, marigolds, coriander and celery. These
were distributed between the three bed types to
ensure that the samecrops were planted in all
three beds to be able to compare the results.
Right: Planting of vegetable and herb seedlings
in the new tunnel
Conclusion
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It was very difficult choosing one participant to experiment with the shade cloth tunnel as all the
learning group members were very enthusiastic about this idea, as they had already seen that tunnels
protect crops from climate variability and also from livestock invasions in their gardens.
Even at the onset of this process participants had the following comments about tunnels;
-They protect the crops from too much sun and heat
-The save water, by reducing evaporation and also through reduced run-off from the trench beds
and bed layout process
They understood the experimentation process and undertook to plant the three beds outside the
tunnel and also to keep records of irrigation times and amounts inside and outside the tunnel
Installation of sensors
Installation of water mark sensors in Gobizembe
Two sensors were installed at Mrs Mcanyana’s household; one in the tunnel in a deep trench and one
outside the tunnel also in a deep trench. The two sensors were buried at 20cm, 40cm and 60cm after
having been soaked in water for over an hour before being put in. The ladies were taken through how
the sensor works and why it is important to record data frequently. The robot system makes it very
easy for the old ladies to work with this tool helping them to decide whether or not they need to water
their crops. Prior the installation of these sensors Mrs Mcanyana was irrigating as and when she
deemed necessary. She was advised and left with a sheet where she will be recording when and how
much she has watered.
She was also taken through the careful storage of theequipment andthe cost of having these installed.
She was shown how to carefully insert and pull out the reader cable as it is quite fragile with minimal
damage translating to the costly replacement of the equipment. Upon installation, the cables were
tied to a wooden dropper, covered with plastic and a covered with a cold drink two litre bottle. Mrs
Mcanyana will be doing uploads every Monday of the week using her daughter’s phone.
All beds
inside
and
outside
the
tunnel
have a
grass
mulch on
them,
this is
not only
for moistureretention butalso to protect the soil form the frost, although to the confusion of the
farmers, this winter is not as cold as they normally have their winters. The crops, however, were
Figure 4: From left to right; sensor cables installed at different depths, soil replaced and pushed in, sensor cable
covered with bottle
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looking very healthy and well-watered and were growing well with no pests spotted as yet on either
the inside or the outside.
Conclusion
Below is a summary of the
chameleon sensor readings
taken to date. It indicates
that MrsMcinyana has
been watering her beds
attentively and has been
paying attention to the
Chameleon readings.
Figure 5: Chameleon readings
inside the tunnel (Above) and
outside the tunnel (Below) at
Gobizembe (Swayimane) for
June 2019
Ntabamhlophe; CA report
Written by Samukelisiwe Mkhize
Ntabamhlopheparticipants have completed their first year of conservation agriculture
experimentation. Theyintercropped maize and beans on 100m2 plots as their first trail. All the
participants planted late between the 15th and 18th of December 2018. This season was very dry until
early January and was characterised by heavy rainfall towards the end of season (March and April).
late and heavy rains. This affected the maize yield with some of the participants’ maize rotting.
However, most of the participants shared that the maize cobs were generally of good quality with a
few exceptions were the maize was affected by stalk borer and rot. Their usual planting season begins
mid-October to latest early November. Low maize yields were mostly due to livestock invasion in the
fields. This is an issue in the community, where cattle are released back into the village prior to people
being able to harvest their maize and is a trend in the whole region. As grazing for cattle is diminished
through a combination of climate variability and lack of grazing management, the traditional
authorities allow the cattle back into the villages earlier; jeopardising harvests for those villagers who
have produced crops.
Cinelele Sibiya
Gogo Sibiya has naturally assumed the role of local facilitator by visiting the trial plots of other farmers
in the learning group to monitor crop growth.
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As this was their first CA trail, they were not sure whether the practice would germinate. grow and
produce any yield. She shared this because she has shallow sandy soil with hardrock that does not
favour good crop growth.
She was happy with the ‘good
lines formed and satisfied
with maize cobs sizes’. She
thinks the MAP (33) fertilizer
and lime used had a great
impact on the 41.607 kg yield
(~4,7t/ha) she harvested this
season and wants to continue
on with the programme next
season.
Right: Mrs Sibiya showing the
quality of maize cobs she
harvested
Robert Gabuza
Maize = 53.258 kg (~6,08t/ha)
Beans = 5 litres (~0,7t/ha)
Right: Robert Gabuza’s wife with
the samples from his harvest..
Sibongile Zuma
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Sibongile’s plot was invaded by cattle and her yields of both maize and
beans were greatly reduced:
Beans = 1.850 kg (~0,054t/ha)
Maize = 18.520 kg (~2,1t/ha)
Right: Sibongile showing a portion of her bean yield
Two other participants whose yields were monitored; Vusi Nkabinde
(~0,7t/ha of beans),Thembi Xaba (~1,4t/ha beans and 2,3t/ha maize)
shared that their yields were low due to cattle invasions. They also felt
that their cobs were a bit small and under-developed and believed that
this was due to the late planting. They all felt that it would be important
for them to continue their experimentation with CA, as their harvests were nevertheless better than
before and they appreciatethe idea that benefitsfrom improving soilhealth and organic matter would
take a few seasons to be seen.
Way forward
Being introduced to an existing group was beneficial because the participants were already working
together and identify themselves as part of the collective. There is potential to reach other farmers in
the communities whoare grain crop farmers including those producing soya beans. The partnership
with LIMA RDF has been effective in introducing CCA into the thinking of the learning groups there,
but more effort needs to be put in engaging our partners throughout the experimentation phase.
Eqeleni and Ezibomvini- Bergville-KZN
Written by Phumzile Ngcobo
Gardening and fodder experimentation update
Tower gardens
Three demonstration workshops were held in the Bergville area at Ezibomvini, Thamelaand
Emabunzini related to tower gardens. These demonstrations were held at Mam Phumelele
Hlongwane, Mam Constance Hlongwane and Mam Valindaba Khumalo’s homesteads respectively.
The tower gardens were introduced primarily to assist farmers to increase their production, using the
little greywater they have available in their homesteads. Materials used included 50 kg,80 kg or
1000kg bags, kraal manure, wood ash drygrass and greens,all of these being accessible to the farmers.
Planting materials used included leafy plants including mustard spinach and kale, some herbs-parsley,
marigold and thyme and below ground harvestable plants in spring onion and regular onions and
cabbage. They selected the regular crop choices that they are used to like cabbage and spinach but
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also included onions for pest controland rotation purposes to include above and below soil
harvestable crops to balance nutrient uptake in the soil and disrupt plant disease cycles.
Figure 6: Above left to right: Examples of tower gardens planted in Bergville
At Ezibomvini the following farmers have included tower gardens into their gardening practices:
Phumelele Hlongwane
Balungile Mkhwanazi
Nombono Dladla
Zodwa Zikode
Nonhlanhla Zikode
According to the farmers tower gardens save them water because they do not have to go to the local
spring or river because theycan use waterthat has been used for other household purposes. Weeding
is also one of the positives identified from the use of this practice. The tower gardens are also easy to
work with and maintain, so once constructed labour requirements are minimal.
Fodder production and supplementation
In Ezibomvini and Stulwane farmers have been preparingfor the fodder supplementationexperiments
undertaken in early June.They havecut grass for baling and will now start to make bales, as the 2nd
baler has been delivered; meaning there is one baler for each of the respective areas. The idea was
the farmer centres in these two villages would procure and supply the premix and the LS33. This has
worked well for the proteinblocks as well. For the LS33, there was none available from their closest
town for a period and thus they have only now bought this liquid supplement.
In addition, farmers have approached the experimentation process a little haphazardly feeding all
their cows every now and again, rather than having a more controlled experimentation process. The
idea was thus re-introduced. There is also the issue that the few bales that they will be able to make
(usually not more than 10 per participant), are not likely to last long, and thus their attempts at
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introducing the supplements directly. This will of course be ratherdifficult with the liquid version
(LS33), but has in fact been working quite well with the pre-mix 450.
In Ezibomvini, two farmers have already started with the supplementary feeding process:
1. Ntombenhle Hlongwane
She has 12 cows and has cut grass and made bales for supplementary feeding. She has not been very
systematic about this but has placed a bale of grass in the kraal from time to time. She mentioned that
her cows are still in a good condition because of that and fall in category 4 of the condition scoring
sheet. For the experimentation process she has now undertaken to feed two cows with calves using
bales with premix 450 or LS33 and will then use her other 10 cows as her control sample.
2. Phumelele Hlongwane
She has two young bulls and have been giving them 2kg premix
450 per day. She will then undertake to mix this supplement with
the bales of grass, which are ready, when there is no longer
grazing available. Another participant, Thulile Zikode will
continueto feed the premix 450 by itself, as she has left cutting
grass to late and there is presently very little grass available.
Right: Phumelele Hlongwane measuring out the 2kg of pre-mix
for her cattle
3. Phumlani Dladla
He has undertaken to do bales with grass, as well as bean and
cowpea straw, and to add the LS33 supplement to these bales.
For Stulwane the following 4 farmers have outlined their supplementation experiments as follows:
1. Mtholeni Buthelezi
He has done collecting grass for bales, at the moment he is already started feeding his livestock with
protein block, and will use LS33 as a supplement to grazing. For the trial he will feed his pregnant and
lactating cows and observe the rest of his small herd as a control.
2. Dlezakhe Hlongwane
He will do grass bales with premix 450. The trial will be the cows with calves as well as those that are
thin and the control will be the rest of his herd.
3. Thulani Dlamini
He will do grass with lab lab, grass with cow peas and LS33. The trial will be the cows with calves as
well as those that are thin and the control will be the rest of his herd.
4. Mkhathini Dladla
He will do bales with LS 33 and premix 450, he will feed the thin ones and those with calves.
Water productivity for Tunnel experimentation
Although three participants have undertaken the tunnel experimentation process in Bergville, record
keeping related to their irrigation and harvests, needed for calculation of water productivity, was not
meticulous enough for analysis for two of the participants; Nombono Dladla and Ntombakhe ZIkode.
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Both these ladies are illiterate and the careful process co-designed with them for keeping records was
unfortunately adhered to rather haphazardly. For thethird participants, Phumelele Hlongwane WP
has been calculated for a 2nd season.
The two methods used; scientific methodusing all variable including ETc, runoff and leaching along
with rainfall and what we have called the farmers’ method –using only water provide (rainfall and
irrigation) related to yields, were used. These processes were considered in detail in Deliverables 5
and 6.
Case study: Phumelele Hlongwane
Phumelele Hlongwane has a 2500l jojotank for roof rain water harvesting. She also walks for
approximately 30mins to and from a spring, collecting water to irrigate. The expansion of her garden
has made her realise the necessity of having reliable and accessible water for irrigation because the
garden uses more water than she needs for household use. Three chameleon sensors were installed
in three different beds in her garden(outside tunnel trench bed, inside tunnel trench bed and raised
bed) to help her to monitor the changes in soil water content in order to assist her to make an
informed decision to irrigate or not. The chameleons with bucket drip irrigation were introduced to
help her to save water.
The procedure for the bucket drip kits is to water once a day every day. Workingwith the chameleons
showed Phumelele that a more efficient irrigation process was is to employ deep watering, less often;
around every 4th-6th day depending on the reading.
Phumelele shared the following comments about the practice:
Using the chameleons and drip kits saved her time and water; she can now irrigate only when
it is needed
She is changing her practice from irrigating every day to deep watering every 4-6 days
depending on the conditions.
The chameleon colours are good and simple indicators
But shedoesn’t know when it’s time to charge the reader and sometimes doesn’t know how
to deal with technical issues with the chameleons and uploading the information
In the first round of experimentation she planted spinach. She followed this with a mixed crop of
Chinese cabbage, onions, spinach and beetroot. Her latest round of cropping consisted of Chinese
cabbage and green peppers. She has noticed a markeddifference in growth and plant health inside
the tunnel in the trench beds, when compared to trench beds outside the tunnel. During the process
of these experiments, she has discontinued her normal practice of raised beds, having seen the
advantages of using trench beds. She has also noticed that soil moisture is retained for a longer period
of time inside the tunnel.
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The Chinese cabbage and green peppers areweighed in the quantities they are sold in. She sells green
peppers in plates of five and Chinese cabbage in bunches. Inside the tunnel, the average yield for the
Chinese cabbage is 0.83 kg/ head sold for R10 and for green peppers 0.38 kg/plate sold for R10. For
the season she harvested at total of 104.8 kgs of green peppers and 32.4 kgs of Chinese cabbage.
Figure 7: Weighing Chinese cabbage and green peppers during yield determinations for this experiment.
Outside tunnel she harvested 11.5 kgs of Chinese cabbage and 138.9 kgs of green peppers. She records
her harvest and amount of water irrigated which are used to measure water use efficiency. The
facilitation team visits her homestead garden to upload readings and monitor the data she records
has been collecting on the water use and chameleon readings.
A visualisation of the chameleon readings for Phumelele’s tunnel is shown in the figure below. From
this figureit can be seen that she has managed to keep her soil reasonably well wetted, up to the end
of her cropping cycle at the end of May 2019. She has added enough water in her latest cropping
cycle to wet the soil profile down to around 40cm in depth; whichis adequate for vegetable
production and has worked out an irrigation practice for herself using as little water as possible to gain
the greatest growth advantage given her major limitations in access to water.
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Figure 8: Chameleon sensor readings for Phumelele Hlongwane’s trench bed inside her tunnel (July 2019)
During the second round of experimentation she obtained the following results.
Table 3: Water productivity results for Phumelele Hlongwane; Feb-May 2019.
Water Productivity: Phumelele Hlongwane
Bgvl Feb-May 2019
Scientific method (ET)
Farmers' method (Water applied)
Plot
Crop
Yield per
plot (5x1m)
(kg)
Water use
(m3)
WP
(kg/m3)
Yield per
plot
(5x1m) (kg)
Water use
(m3)
WP
(kg/m3)
Tunnel
Chinese
cabbage
60,5
0,5
122,0
60,5
0,6
100,9
Trench
(outside)
Chinese
cabbage
34,7
0,5
72,1
34,7
0,6
57,9
Tunnel
Green
Pepper
3,7
0,5
7,2
3,7
0,5
7,2
Trench
(outside)
Green
Pepper
2,9
0,5
5,8
2,9
0,5
5,6
Note: A crop coefficient of 1,0 was used for both Chinese cabbage and green pepper and was gleaned form literature
1
For this production cycle, the scientific and farmers’ methods for calculating WP have produced very
similar results in terms of the water use. This means that Phumelele has managed to intuitively adjust
her irrigation schedule to suite the climatic conditions of the season almost perfectly.
The yield advantage for both Chinese cabbage and green peppers produced inside the tunnel, when
compared to outside is clearly visible. The average percentage increase in WP for Chinese cabbage
grown inside the tunnel is 42% and for green Peppers is 26,5%
1
FAO, 1998. Crop Evapotranspiration guidelines for computing crop water requirements. In FAO Irrigation and Drainage
Paper No 56. Chapter 6:Simple Crop Coefficients. FAO, Rome,
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When this is compared to the WP results for her previous cropping cycle of Spinach, as shown in the
table below, the average percentage increase in WP for the spinach grown was around 56%.
Table 4: Water productivity results for Phumelele Hlongwane; June-September 2018
Bgvl June-Sept 2018
Simple scientific method (ET)
Farmers' method (Water applied)
Name of famer
water
use (m3)
Total
weight
(kg)
WP
(kg/m3)
water use
(m3)
Total
weight (kg)
WP
(kg/m3)
Phumelele Hlongwane
trench bed inside tunnel
1,65
21,06
12,76
1,85
21,06
11,38
Phumelele Hlongwane;
trench bed outside tunnel
0,83
5,32
6,45
1,75
5,32
3,04
Ntombakhe Zikode trench
bed inside tunnel
1,65
17,71
10,73
2,37
17,71
7,47
Ntombakhe Zikode; trench
bed outside tunnel
0,50
3,35
6,76
0,53
3,35
6,33
Further, the water use for the 2018 winter season was much higher than the 2019 summer season,
which points to the fact that Phumelele has adjusted the amount of water she providesduring this
experimentation process and has reduced her overall water use significantly, without jeopardising her
yields or water productivity.
Water issues- Ezibomvini
Very little progress has been made. During May 2019, when participants were meant tostart collecting
their contributions towards the spring protection and reticulation of water to their households, due
to elections and a brief spurt of activity from the Local Municipality-hopes were raised that the
Government would in fact finally assist with water provision. Most participants are still waiting to see
if anything will happenthere and have thus lost focus on contributing towards their own initiative.
The experimentation process with spring protection can only happen if they agree to work together
and contribute towards this process with their labour and a small financial contribution.
Conservation Agriculture monitoring in Bergville
For the CA experimentation the bulk of field work and monitoring are conducted under the auspices
of the Maize Trust Smallholder Farmer Innovation project. Here, we report some of the relevant
monitoring information for this time period; including the rainfall and runoff results, water holding
capacity, gravimetric soil water content, and soil health data .yield data for the season is still being
compiled.
RAINFALL
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This season rain gauges were installedin six villages within the Bergville study site. The monthly
average rainfall data for these gauges are summarised in the table below and are compared to the
local weather station data (Davis weather station in Ezibomvini)
Table 5: Rainfall data for 6 villages in the Bergville site; September 2018-May 2019
Rainfall (mm/month) 2018-2019 summer rainfall season; Bergville villages
Village
Weather station
(Ezibomvini)
Month
Stulwane
Ndunwana
Ezibomvini
Eqeleni
Emhlwazini
Thamela
Average
Rain (mm/
month)
ET0
(mm/
day)
Sep-18
5
71
15
30,3
5,8
154,36
Oct-18
19,5
28
6
17,8
24,6
117,47
Nov-18
106
68,1
180
74,8
47,7
95,3
50,4
148,16
Dec-18
64
22
61
64
76,5
52
56,6
80
152,34
Jan-19
57
321
27,5
258,5
290,4
97
175,2
70,6
142,01
Feb-19
135
253
218,7
254
171,8
356
231,4
139,8
108
Mar-19
177,5
73
214
205,5
63,2
66
133,2
212,4
100
Apr-19
136,5
63
89
67
53
81,7
149,9
100
May-19
0
0
0
0
0
0
0,0
11
84,92
TOTALS
594,5
937
699,3
1029
676,7
671,7
768,0
744,5
1107,26
Note: values in dark grey were estimated from online weather data for the period as the weather
station was faulty during this period
The seasonal average for the rain gauges and weather station compare quite well at 768mm and
744mm respectively. This can be considered a reasonably high rainfall for this area, but given the
extremely late onsetof rain and the high evapotranspiration values for this season, crop growth was
severely hampered.
The average rainfall recorded for the 2017-2018 season for December- May was averaged at 563mm.
For this season in the same time period the average rainfall was 678mm. The reference ETo for 2017-
2018 was however substantially lower at 702,8 mm than this year, which was calculated at 1107,3 mm
for the season. This indicates the major difference between the two seasons and why the crops fared
so badly this year, even with higher rainfall than last year.
This observation is supported by a number of other studies, indicating the evaporative potential in a
growing season has a much greater potential effect on maize yield potential than overall rainfall and
temperature, as explained in the quote below:
“Recent studies indicate that the negative effect of high summer temperatures is due less to effects on
reproductive growth (e.g., heat damage between anthesis and silking, reducing pollen and grain set)
and more to increased moisture stress driven by vapor pressure deficit(VPD). Rising VPD increases
evapotranspiration, which has a two-fold impact on crop moisture stress: 1) photosynthesis declines
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as crops that are unable to meet transpirative demand reduce their stomatal conductance and 2) soil
water supply to the crop declines due to increased evaporation from the soil surface”
2
These authors proposed the need for increasedsoil organic matter to effect greater water holding
capacity (WHC) in the soil tomitigate these effects. They also state that “Other strategies will be
required to complement WHC increases, such as crop genetic improvement, croppingsystem design,
and irrigation technologies, among others”.
RUNOFF
This season 4 farmers managed run-off plots in their CA trials alongside their rain gauges to ascertain
the difference in runoff between the conservation agriculture trial plots and a conventional control
plot. The results are summarised below.
Data is summarisedon a monthly basis, with the understanding that the run-off is generally related to
amount and intensity of rainfall as well as dryness of the soil. Given that the soils in Bergville are high
clay soils they also tend to be quite compacted and become extremely hard when dry. This could lead
to increased run-off, but this depends on the intensity of the rainfall events.
Table 6: Run-off results for 4 participants across Bergville; 2018-2019
Stulwane
Ndunwana
Ezibomvini
Eqeleni
Runoff
Trial(ml)
Runoff
Control (ml)
Runoff
Trial(ml)
Runoff
Control (ml)
Runoff
Trial(ml)
Runoff
Control (ml)
Runoff
Trial(ml)
Runoff
Control (ml)
Nov-18
2808,0
3267,0
Dec-18
3 343
2 600
11
14
35,2
39,5
5 800
5750
Jan-19
5 900
2 250
305
348
30,8
31,0
10 000
12750
Feb-19
3 266
6 275
471
609
66,0
74,5
12710
13 250
Mar-19
2 423
1 615
69
117
24,1
27,5
9 800
9 000
Apr -19
4 836
5 875
41
29
2,7
2,3
4 000
4 000
Average
Nov-Apr
3 954
3 723
179,4
223,4
494,5
573,6
8 500
8950
From the table above it can be seen that for 3 of the 4 villages the run-off in the CA trial pots were on
average lower than the conventional control plots. The difference in run-off between the CA trial and
conventional control plots is not as significant as it has been in previous years. This is likely due to the
larger number of small rainfall events this season.
In the section below the effect of different cropping options within each of the CA trials is explored in
more detail.
2
Williams A, Hunter M.C, Kammerer M,. Kane D.A, Jordan N.R, Mortensen D.A, SmithR.G, Snapp S, and. Davis A.S. 2016. Water Holding
Capacity Mitigates Downside Risk and Volatility in US Rainfed Maize: Time to Invest in Soil Organic Matter? Published: August25,
2016https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0160974Soil.
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NELISIWE MSELE; STULWANE
Table 7: Run-off results or different cropping options within the CA trial; Stulwane 2018-2019
Stulwane; Nelisiwe Msele
Rainfall
CA Plot 1
(M+CP)
CA Plot 3
(Maize)
CA Plot
6
(Beans)
CA Plot
9
(M+CP)
CA average
Conventional
Control
mm
ml
ml
ml
ml
ml
Dec-18
64
3 750
1 170
4 100
4 350
3 343
2 600
Jan-19
57
11 000
9 600
2 000
1 000
5 900
2 250
Feb-19
135
4 995
2 955
2 135
2 980
3 266
6 275
Mar-19
177,5
3 950
1 050
0
2 270
2 423
1 615
Apr-19
136,5
6 333
3 910
6 100
3 000
4 836
5 875
Average seasonal runoff
3 954
3 723
For Nelisiwe Mselethe expected trend of higher run-off on the CA plotsearly in the season, leading
into lower runoff values towards the end of the season is clearly visible, as is the trend for the
conventional (ploughed) control) of having less run-off early in the season and higher runoff as the
season progresses. This trend has been recorded in the literature and can be explained through
increased macropores in the soil after ploughing, that gradually collapse throughout the season to
lead to higher compaction in the soil. Soils under CA are also generally more compacted,but aggregate
stability and micropores are present that improve water infiltration and water holding capacity
(Cavalieri et al., 2009, Basset ,T.S 2010)
3
.
Overall the CAplots for Nelisiwe had slightly greater average run-off thanher conventionalcontrol
plot. She has been practicing CA for 5 years, but her soil cover has been recorded at between1-5%
over the years; meaning that it has remained very low.
If one considers the percentage rainfall that has been converted to run-off, as shown in the small table
below, it can be seen that this percentage is quite low, averaging 4,6% for the CA trial plots and 4,3%
for the conventional control plot. This can be related to the general stability of high % clay soils as well
as the reasonably high percentage of organic matter (OM); 4,3% in the CA trial plot.
Table 8: Percentage rainfall convertedto runoff for CA trial and conventional control plots in
Stulwane; 2018-2019
Percentage rainfall converted to runoff
3
Cavalieri K.M.V., da Silva A.P., Tormena C.A., Leão T.P., Dexter A.R. and Håkansson I., 2009.
Long-term effects of no-tillage on soil physical properties in a Rhodic Ferrasol in Paraná,
Brazil. Soil and Tillage Research, 103 (158-164).
Basset, T.S. 2010. A comparison of the effects of tillage on Soil physical properties and microbial
Activity at different levels of nitrogen Fertilizer at Gourton farm, Loskop, Kwazulu-Natal. MSC thesis. Dept of Soil Science, UKZN.
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Rainfall
CA
Conv
mm
Dec-18
64
5,2%
4,1%
Jan-19
57
10,4%
3,9%
Feb-19
135
2,4%
4,6%
Mar-19
177,5
1,4%
0,9%
Apr-19
136,5
3,5%
4,3%
Average % runoff
4,6%
3,6%
PHUMELELE HLONGWANE: EZIBOMVINI
Table 9: Run-off results or different cropping options within the CA trial; Ezibomvini 2018-2019
Phumelele Hlongwane: Ezibomvini
Rainfall
runoff (ml)
mm
CA Plot 2
(M+CP)
CA Plot 6
(M+B)
CA Plot
9
(Maize)
CA trial
ave
CA
control
Conven
contrl
Sep-18
15
Oct-18
6
Nov-18
68,1
2393,0
2016,0
4015,0
2808,0
3267,0
Dec-18
61
35,0
37,0
33,5
35,2
39,5
Jan-19
27,5
35,1
29,4
28,0
30,8
31,0
1007,5
Feb-19
218,7
60,0
72,5
65,5
66,0
74,5
16,5
Mar-
19
214
31,7
21,2
19,5
24,1
27,5
3,0
Apr-19
89
4,0
2,0
2,0
2,7
2,3
1,8
Ave Seasonal
runoff
426,5
363,0
693,9
494,5
573,6
257,2
Phumelelehas converted most of her farming to CA.She is in her 5th year of implementation. This
year we attempted to find a conventional control-this plot was planted to sweet potatoes and means
it was cultivated. For Phumelele her % soil cover linked to stover, is around 10%, given that she has
fenced her field and control her livestock’s grazing in this field.
This season the average seasonal run-off in her Maize only CA plot was substantially higher than for
her intercropped plots (M+B and M+CP). As Phumelele rotates the crops in her plot every season, it
would appear that the differences in runoff between the plots is related a lot more to the specific soil
properties in each plot, than the specific seasonal cropping option. This result may also be linked to
canopy cover this season, growth of the crops was impeded by the weather conditions and canopy
cover was never reached, while in the previous season full canopy cover had been reached by the end
of January.
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If one considers the percentage rainfall that has been converted to run-off, as shown in the small table
below, it can be seen that this percentage is very low, averaging 0,95% for the CA trial plots, 1,11% for
the CA control plots and 0,36% for the conventional control plot. InPhumelele’s case her %OM is 3,6%
for her CA Trial plotand 2,9% for her conventional control. It is unclear why the runoff for the
conventional control plot is lower than that of the CA trial. It is possible that the slope of the run-off
pans were not well calibrated and that the cultivation practices for sweet potatoes provide for
differentvrun0off conditions in this plot. In retrospect, using a field allocated to a different crop may
not have been such a good idea. The trend for lower run-off from the CA trial plot, when compared to
the CA control plot, which has been observed in the 2 previous seasons has continued into this season.
The percentage rainfall converted to runoff for Phumelele is substantially lower than that of Nelisiwe
(presented above) and attests to her continued good soil management practices
Table 10: Percentage rainfall converted to runoff for CA trial and conventional control plots in
Ezibomvini; 2018-2019
Percentage rainfall converted to runoff
mm (Weather
station)
CA trial
CA control
Conv control
Nov-18
50,4
5,57%
6,48%
Dec-18
80
0,04%
0,05%
Jan-19
70,6
0,04%
0,04%
1,43%
Feb-19
139,8
0,05%
0,05%
0,01%
Mar-19
212,4
0,01%
0,01%
0,00%
Apr-19
149,9
0,00%
0,00%
0,00%
Average % runoff
0,95%
1,11%
0,36%
NTOMBAKHE ZIKODE: EQELENI
Table 11: Run-off results or different cropping options within the CA trial; Eqeleni 2018-2019
Ntombakhe Zikode; Eqeleni
Rainfall
Runoff (l)
mm
CA plot
1
CA plot 2
CA plot
3
CA Ave
CA
Control
Convenl
Control
Control
Ave
Dec-18
64
5,5
5,5
6,5
5,8
5
6,5
5,75
Jan-19
258,5
10
10,5
9,5
10,0
13
12,5
12,75
Feb-19
254
14
10,5
13,5
12,7
14
12,5
13,25
Mar-
19
205,5
9
9
11,5
9,8
8,5
9,5
9
Apr-19
67
4
4
4
4,0
3,5
4,5
4
Ave Seasonal
runoff
8,5
7,9
9
8,5
8,8
9,1
8,95
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Ntombakhe Zikode is in her 6th year of CA implementation. She also employs a combination of multi-
cropping and crop rotation in her CA trial and has improved her soil management practices
substantially over the last five years. Because of pressure form livestockin the area, hersoil cover
from stover is still low; averaging around 3-5%. In addition, the %OM in hertrial plot no averages
around 1,9%, which is an improvement, but still quite low for the area.
It can be seen form the table above that her runoff from both her CA trial plots (Ave 8,8l) are quite
high and much higher than those for Ezibomvini (Ave 0,5l) and Stulwane (Ave 4,4l).This points towards
the damage of her soil caused by long term monocropping and ploughing and the length of time
required to re-build her soil. Ntombakhe has ploughed her fields regularly for many years, unlike
Nelisiwe, who has only done this occasionally and Phumelele who has always tilled by hand.
Table 12: Percentage rainfall converted to runoff for CA trial and conventional control plots in
Eqeleni; 2018-209
Percentage rainfall converted to runoff
mm
CA trial
CA control
Conv control
Dec-18
64
9,38%
7,81%
10,16%
Jan-19
258,5
3,87%
5,03%
4,84%
Feb-19
254
5,00%
5,51%
4,92%
Mar-19
205,5
4,77%
4,14%
4,62%
Apr-19
67
5,97%
5,22%
6,72%
Average % runoff
5,80%
5,54%
6,25%
Predictably, the percentage rainfall converted to runoff in Ntobmakhe’splots is much higher as well.
Runoff in her CA plots 9both the trial and the control) is lower than her conventionally tilled plot.
NDUNWANA; BONIWE HLATSWHAYO
Table 13: Run-off results or different cropping options within the CA trial; Ndunwana 2018-2019
She is in her 4th year of CA
implementation and still
following the 400m2trial
layout of 2 plots of M+B and
M+CP intercrops. She has
received good yields
averaging around 9,6t/ha for
her maize in the 2017-2018season. For theCA trail plot the organic matter has been recorded at 2,9%
and for her conventional control plot at 2,75%. Boniwe recorded very low runoff values, for both her
CA and conventional control plots with a lower average seasonal run-off value for the CA plots.
Nduwane; Boniwe Hlatshwayo
Rainfall
CA runoff
(M+B)
Conventional
runoff
mm
ml
ml
Dec-18
22
11
14
Jan-19
321
305
348
Feb-19
253
471
609
Mar-19
73
69
117
Apr-19
63
41
29
Average seasonal runoff
179,4
223,4
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Table 14: Percentage rainfall converted to runoff for CA trial and conventional control plots in
Ndunwana; 2018-2019
Percentage rainfall converted to runoff
mm
CA trial
Conv control
Dec-18
22
0,05%
0,06%
Jan-19
321
0,10%
0,11%
Feb-19
253
0,19%
0,24%
Mar-19
73
0,09%
0,16%
Apr-19
63
0,07%
0,05%
Average % runoff
0,10%
0,12%
Boniwe’s percentage of rainfall converted to runoff results are very low and are similar to those for
Phumelele in Ezibomvini. This providessome weight to the argument that in the longer term, hand
tillage, followed by CA has led to stable, wel-l structured soils.
Conclusions
Runoff for the 2018-2019 season was much lower than the runoff measuredin the two
previous seasons, despite the fact that the overall rainfall was not that different. This can be
attributed mainly to the rainfall intensity and periodicity but also to slowly improving organic
matter content in the soil
Historical land management practiceshave a large effect on the localised soil structureand
soil health. It may take many seasons to rebuild a living soil with good aggregate stability and
the related characteristics of reduced run-off and improved infiltration. There is evidence that
those smallholder farmerswho have always practiced hand tillage have soils that are in a
much better state than those who ploughed continuously prior tostarting their CA
implementation.
Even within the CA trial plots (which are divided into 10m2 blocks), there can be considerable
variation in soil quality, which again is related to historical management practices. It is
considered that the differences in run-off between these blocks is related much more to the
differences in historical land management practices than the different cropping options
presently implemented.
On average, the mixed cropped CA trial plots show less run-off than the CA control plots which
have been mono cropped to maize.
For this season, the conventional control plots (ploughed) have on average shown less run-off
than the CA trial plots. Althoughthere has been a steady, but slow increase in percentage
Organic carbon (and %OM) in the CA trial plots, the comparison of these CA plots with newly
ploughed conventional plots has been problematic. There may be a initial “flash” release of
organic matter in the newly ploughed plots that was not accounted for. There may also be a
slow decrease in organic matter in the CA trial plots although this could in fact be more
related to the proceduresfor measurement of organic carbon, the timing of taking the soil
samples and the generaldryingtrends in the soils over the last two to three seasons. These
tests are to be repeated in the coming season in the hope that some of these aspects can be
clarified.
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WATER HOLDING CAPACITY
In the Bergville area, the WHC (water holding capacity) of the soil is naturally high, given the high clay
content and reasonably high SOM content (2-4%). A study conducted with 5 of our smallholder
farmers in Stulwane, by a Soil Science Masters student from the University of Pretoria Palesa
Motaung confirms these generalisations.
As in many of our presentanalyses, students, interns and fieldworkers battle to conceptualise the
importance of control samples and also battle to findappropriate controls as in many cases the
farmers that we are now working with for these measurements have moved across to CA for their
entire cropping areas and do not have conventional tillage control plots. In Palesa Motaung’s study,
given that she is focussing on soil health aspects, she used veld samples as her controls.
She has used both the Visual Soil Assessment methodology refined by our team as well as the Cornell
comprehensive soil health assessment framework which uses chemical, biological and physical soil
measurements to provide indices
4
and scores for soil health.
Among the soil health tests that sheconducted, she calculated available water holdingcapacity (AWC)
for the following plots for five 5thyear CA farming participants in Stulwane:
CA maize only
Ca maize and beans
Veld
The results are shown in the small table below
Water holding capacity (g water per g soil)
Treatment average of 5 farmers (Stulwane)
0,58
CA maize only
0,58
CA maize and beans
0,62
Veld
The AWC is the amountof water available to plants between the field capacityand wilting points for
the particular soil. For thesamples tested, the AWC is scored at 100% for all three treatments (CA
maize only, CA maize and beans and Veld). This means that the water holding capacity of the soils in
our study area are high. In addition, the water holding capacity of the CA trials are very close to the
veld benchmark, indicating the benefit of the implemented CA system. The system consists of rotated
plots of different combinations of mono-cropped maize, legumes and cover crops.
4
B.N. Moebius-Clune, D.J. Moebius-Clune, B.K. Gugino, O.J. Idowu, R.R. Schindelbeck, A.J. Ristow, H.M. van Es,
J.E. Thies, H.A. Shayler, M.B. McBride, K.S.M. Kurtz, D.W. Wolfe, and G.S. Abawi .2017. Comprehensive
Assessment of Soil Health. The Cornell Framework. Third Edition. Cornell University, Ithaca New York.
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Table 15: Soil quality scores provided by the Cornell soil assessment framework for 5 participants in
Stulwane; 2018-2019
Treatment
Overall
Quality
Score
Overall Biological
Quality Score
Overall Chemical
Quality Score
Overall Physical
Quality Score
Description
Soil organic
matter, active
carbon, microbial
respiration
Extractable P, K
and pH
Available water
capacity, wet
aggregate stability
CA Maize Only
60,7
48,2
62,6
76,7
CA Maize & Beans
54,7
43,2
51,2
77,3
Veld
63,0
56,4
61,1
75,9
Note: data compiled by Palesa Motaung for the M Soil Science study.
The differences in the scores between the CA maize only and CA maize and bean plots were to some
extent artificial and related to sampling, rather than the treatments. Extractable P for example was
extremely high for a few of the CA plots but were likely due to recent fertilization rather than an
overall over supply of P in the soil, but led tomuch lower scores, as indicated in the pink shaded block
of the table above.
For 3of the 5 participants, the scoresfor biological properties were lower for their CAmaize and bean
plots than for their CA maize only plots as indicated in the blue shaded block in the table above. A
trend that has been noticed already in thisresearch process is that soil quality within participants’
fields can vary considerably and that microbial respiration and active carbon also varies considerably
between the differenttreatments in a 10-block layout (10mx10m blocks). Treatments consist of
monocropping and intercropping mixes, with cover crops, which are rotated. This variation is not
directly related tothe present crop combination in the block, or rather there have been no discernible
trends in the data recordedto date. A trend that has been noticed, is that the participants who have
used both intercropping and crop rotation in their experimental blocks, have higher average values
for these biological properties. It is postulated here that the basic soil quality within these farmers
fields differ markedly due to a combination historical management practices, and natural variability
and that the CA management practices will even these differences out over time.
Conclusions
The practice of CA has improved the physical properties of the soil over time, to the extent
that both water holding capacity and aggregate stability for the CA fields are higher than for
natural veld in the area (this is a high benchmark for comparison)
The CA practices have also improved the pH and nutrient availability in the soil (extractable P
and K) to levels equivalent to and higher than the natural veld benchmark
GRAVIMETRIC WATER
The intention of doing the gravimetric water calculations is twofold;
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1. To gaina visual representation of water availabilityin the soil for different cropping options
within the CA system and
2. To ascertain trends in water holding capacity in the soil, given the assumption that CA and
specifically multi- cropping options within the CA system improves the water holding capacity
of the soil.
Results from a gravimetric water content analysis in and of itself, cannot fully answer these questions,
as there are numerous factorsat play and a much morein-depth analysis would be required. This
process has thus been exploratory in nature.
This process has been conducted for the last two seasons.
For the 2017-2018 season samples were taken for three participants (Phumelele Hlongwane,
Ntombakhe Zikode and Zodwa Zikode), for different crop combinations within the CA trials (M, M+B,
M+CP, SCC). The results were quite confusing and were only written up for one of the participants-
Phumelele Hlongwane.
This season only one set of soil samples (Phumelele Hlongwane) were taken for gravimetric soil water
assessments, given the time-consuming nature of this activity. These samples wouldgive an indication
of soil water content at different depths (30cm, 60cm, 90cm and 120cm), at different stages ofcrop
growth, during the season. Samples were combined for her CA trial and were also taken for a CA
control and a conventional control plot.
Right and Far
Right:: Taking
the gravimetric
soil samples in
Phumelele’s CA
trial plot, at
planting
(2018/11/07)
Below is PhumeleleHlongwane’s 1000m2 CA trial plot layout (2018/2019). Green shading indicates
plots where gravimetric sampling was done.
Plot 5
M
Plot 4
M+B
Plot 3
M+CP
Plot 2
M+CP
Plot 1
SCC
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Plot 6
M+B
Plot 7
M+B
Plot 8
M+B
Plot 9
M
Plot 10
LAB LAB
Phumelele took a risk and planted a lot earlier in the season than most of the other farmers in the
area, who planted towards the end of November and early December only. Her crops suffered
considerably from the continued lack of rain and hightemperatures prevailing during November and
December 2018.
Table 16: Gravimetric soil water sampling dates, compared to average monthly rainfall data
Gravimetric water samples taken
Date of sampling
Average rainfall for
the sampling period
Planting (0 days)
2018/11/07
50
Establishment (4-6 leaf stage) (20-30 days)
2019/01/01
80
Vegetative growth (40-50 days)
2019/02/12
101
Productive stage (tasselling) (60-70 days) and
2019/03/14
212
Harvesting (physiological maturity) (80-110 days).
2019/04/25
150
The table above indicates the trend noticed by the farmers; that the rainfall during the establishment
and early vegetative growth stages of the crop was not enough to sustain growth and rainfall towards
the end of the season was unusually high, hampering maturation of the crops.
Germination and early growth were hampered, but maize growth in the later vegetative stages
improved. Growth of the leguminous crops, specifically beans, was severely hampered, with almost
zero harvests recorded. Lab-lab (Dolichos) and cowpeas survived well, even under these stressfull
conditions. Of the summer cover crops the Sunnhemp and millet (babala)survived well, but
sunflowers did not. The photos taken below for Phumllele Hlongwane are indicative.
Right to far-Right:
Growth of different
crops, towards the end
of the productive phase
(2019/04/11); Dolichos,
Sunnhemp and millet
(Babala)
Right: Cowpeas grew
well, but because of
heavy rains in the
productive phase did
not seed well
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Far Right: Maize
germination was patchy
and growth was
compromised. Late rains
caused a lot of damage to
cobs.
Comparison of gravimetric water content results for two seasons (Phumelele Hlongwane Ezibomvini)
For the 2017-2018 season, calculations for gravimetric water content between the different cropping
options were in fact very similar; meaning that the water content at the different depths were similar
within each of the cropping options. There were some interesting differences between the cropping
options.
The figure below indicates the results at 30cm depth.
Figure 9: Gravimetric water content at 30cm depth for different cropping options (Phumelele
Hlongwane, 2017-2018)
From the figure above the following trends can be seen:
Establishment VegetativeProductiveHarvesting
30 Plot 5 (Lab lab)0.25 0.20 0.18 0.18
30 Plot 6 (M+CP)0.19 0.01 0.14 0.17
30 Plot 8 (B)0.19 0.13 0.14 0.16
30 Plot 9 (SCC)0.18 0.11 0.10 0.13
30 Control (M+B)0.17 0.36 0.13 0.16
0.00
0.05
0.10
0.15
0.20
0.25
0.30
0.35
0.40
Ave grav water (g/g)
Phumelele Hlongwane 30cm; 2017-2018
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At establishment, vegetative stage, productive and harvesting; for depths 30,60,90,120 the
values are similar within each plot of the CA trial for 2017-2018, meaning the water content
of the whole profile was similar in each plot (results for 60cm-120cm are not shown here)
The water content for the plot planted to Lab-Lab beans (Dolichos) remained higher than the
other plots for most of the season. The assumption here is that the mulching capability of the
Dolichos reduced the evaporation and improved soil water content.
The soil water content for the summer cover crops, Plot 9, was lower than for the other
cropping options in the trial plots for the entire season. This provides a reasonably clear
indication that the SCC used more water than the other crop combinations tested (Lab-Lab
beans, maize and cowpea intercrop and beans). For the vegetative and productive growth
period the measurements of 0,11 and 0,1 (g/g) of water to soil is considered suboptimalfor
unimpeded growth.
Generally, the CAcontrol and the CA trial plots had similar gravimetric water content readings
for the season, indicating the water holding capacity of the soil is not changedgreatly by the
particular cropping options within the CA farming system.
The gravimetric water content for the maize and cowpea intercrop (Plat 6), indicates a severe
dip in water content in the soil during the vegetative growth phase. It is not clear why this
would be the case, but it could be an indication of temporary competition for water between
the maize and cowpeas in the vegetative growth stage although the severity of the result
(0,01 g/g) would rather indicate an error in sampling and analysis.
In general, these results indicate that the water holding capacity of these soils under the CA system
of mixed cropping and crop rotation supported good growth of all crop combinations in this season.
To compare the results of 2017-2018 with the presentseason (2018-2019), the results for all trail plots
were combined and averaged and were then compared to the CA control and a conventional control
(2018-2019 only). These results are shown in the two figures below.
Establishment VegetativeProductiveHarvesting
30 CA trial0.20 0.11 0.14 0.16
30 CA control0.17 0.36 0.13 0.16
0.00
0.05
0.10
0.15
0.20
0.25
0.30
0.35
0.40
Ave grav atwr g/g
Phumelele Hlongwane 30cm; 2017-2018
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Figure 10: Comparisonof gravimetric water content results between 2017-2018 and 2018-2019
season, for CA trial and control plots for Phumelele Hlongwane (Ezibomvini)
From the above figures the following observations can be made:
Overall the water content was lower at the beginning of the season and higher at the end of
the season for 2018-2019, when compared to 2017-2018. This trend follows the rainfall
patterns and ETo for these two periods.
For the 2018-2109 seasonthe water content for the CA control for the planting and
establishment phases is relatively high. It then dips sharply during the vegetative phase (result
missing)
For the CA trial plot water content during the establishment stage is high and dips sharply to
a value below optimal growth during the vegetative growth stage.
The gravimetricwater content for the CA trial and CA control is higher during the productive
phase than the conventional control for the 2018-2019 indicating potential for better
production from the CA plots.
During the harvesting phase the water content for the CA trial plot for 2018-2019 is lower
than the two control plots. This is likely an indication of continued active growth of the cover
crops and lab-Lab beans planted in the trial.
The only conclusion that could confidently be drawn from these results is that the soil water content
of the vegetative growth stage in 2018-2019, for the CA trial and CA control pots was well below the
levels requiredfor unimpeded crop growth. The high water content values are not congruent with the
rainfall and ETo data gathered for this season and are hard to explain unlessper chance samples
were taken very soon after rainfall events.
PlantingEstablishment VegetativeProductiveHarvesting
30
CA trial0.13 0.69 0.09 0.19 0.11
CA control0.68 0.710.15 0.13
Conv control0.14 0.14 0.15 0.11 0.14
0.00
0.10
0.20
0.30
0.40
0.50
0.60
0.70
0.80
Ave grav water g/g
Phumelele Hlongwane 30cm; 2018-2019
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What can be seen from this figure is the following:
There is a great reduction in water content in the soil, throughout the profile (30-120cm
depth) moving from the vegetative to productive stages and in fact there is too little water in
the soil during that period to sustain the crop growth as a gravimetric water content in clay-
loam soils of 0,11 -0,14 (g/g) is required as a minimum prior to wilting point being reached
The CA trial plots recovered well during the productive phase and indicate a higher soil water
content than both the control plots throughout the soil profile. This pointstowards better
water holding capacity in these soils linked to the multi cropping options and shows also that
the potential competition during the vegetative growth phase did not continue into the
productive phase
Towards the endof the season (harvesting stage) the deeper soil levels have dried out
considerable for the CA trial, more so than the control plots; indicating an increased drying in
the lower levels of the soil profile for the multi-species CA trial. This is likely due to the
continued growth of the Lab-Labbeans and cover crops, which were not present in the control
plots.
Overall, for both seasons, the gravimetric soil water content of the CA trials are somewhat lower than
the CA control plots. This indicates that the multi-cropping options used in the CAtrial use more water
than a monocropping option (such as used in the CA controls). This result is not unexpected. There is
also an indication that the multi-cropping led to decreased water availabilityduring the vegetative
growth phase for the 2018-2019season, which could in turn affectthe maize yields for this season.
The beans intercropped with maize died back during this period and no yields have been recorded.
Cowpeas however, survived well. This provides a good indication of the drought tolerance of cowpeas.
For the summer cover crop combination, sunflowersalso died during this vegetative growth phase
due to water shortages, but the millet and Sunnhemp survived well and seeded. Interestinglythe
water content is much improved for the CA trial when compared to the CA and conventional controls-
indicating a good recovery for the CA trial plots in this phase
BULK DENSITY
306090 120 306090 120 306090 120 306090 120 306090 120
PlantingEstablishment VegetativeProductiveHarvesting
CA control0.68 0.51 0.44 0.17 0.71 0.39 0.31 0.160.15 0.16 0.19 0.09 0.13 0.11 0.12 0.12
CA trial0.13 0.14 0.27 0.11 0.69 0.49 0.21 0.14 0.09 0.14 0.16 0.18 0.19 0.23 0.26 0.22 0.11 0.12 0.08 0.09
Conv control0.14 0.12 0.11 0.14 0.14 0.12 0.140.15 0.08 0.150.11 0.63 0.07 0.14 0.14 0.15 0.17 0.17
0.00
0.10
0.20
0.30
0.40
0.50
0.60
0.70
0.80
Ave grav water g/g
Phumelele Hlongwane 30-120cm; 2018-2019
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Below is a summary of the results of the bulk density calculations for different cropping practices
within the CA system of the three participants. They were chosenfor having differing period of
cropping under CA and for inclusion of a number of practices within their CA system; namely
intercropping and planting of summer cover crops (SCC).
Table 17: Bulk density results for three CA participants
Village
Period undue
CA (yrs)
Name and
Surname
Control CT
Control CA
M
M+B
M+CP
SCC
Average
Ezibomvini
4
Phumelele Hlongwane
1,30
1,36
1,38
1,33
1,38
1,28
1,34
Eqeleni
5
Ntombakhe Zikode
1,35
1,49
1,37
1,32
1,38
Thamela
1
Mkhuliseni Zwane
1,14
1,08
1,09
1,07
1,10
Average bulk density
1,27
These results indicate an increase in ρb over the period of involvement in CA. This trend is expected.
There is little to no difference between the CA practices, although in all three cases the planting of
SCC has reduced the ρb fractionally.
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SOIL HEALTH
This season soil health analysis was undertaken for 10 participants across five villages in Bergville;
Eqeleni (2) Stulwane (2); 6th year of implementation
Ezibomvini (2); 5th year of CA implementation
Mhlwazini (2); 3rd year of CA implementation
Ndunwana (2); 3rd year of CA implementation
The intention is to compare the soil health characteristics for a number of cropping options within the CA trials, with conventionally tilled mono-cropped
control plots, over time.
The soil health tests (as analysed by Soil Health Solutions in the Western Cape and Ward Laboratories in the USA) provides insight into microbial respiration
and populations in the soil, organic and inorganic fractions of the main nutrients N, P and K, and assessment of organic carbon percentage organic matter
(%OM). An overall soil health score (SH) is also provided for each sample.
Soil health tests parameters
5
These analyses are benchmarked against natural veld for each participant, due to high local variation in soil health properties, measured at different times.
The veld scores provide for high benchmarks to compare the cropping practices against.
Soil Respiration 1-day CO2-C: This result is one of the most important numbers in this soil testprocedure. Thisnumber in ppm is the amount of CO2-C
released in 24 hours from soil microbes after soil has been dried and rewetted (as occurs naturally in the field). This is a measure of the microbial biomass in
the soil and is related to soil fertility and the potential for microbial activity. In most cases, the higher the number, the more fertile the soil.
5
Haney/Soil Health Test Information Rev. 1.0 (2019). Lance Gunderson, Ward Laboratories Inc.
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Microbes exist in soil in great abundance. They are highly adaptable to their environment and their composition, adaptability, and structure are a result of
the environment they inhabit. They haveadapted to the temperature, moisture levels, soil structure, crop and management inputs, as well as soil nutrient
content. Since soil microbes are highly adaptive and are driven by their need to reproduce and by their need for acquiring C,N, and P in a ratio of 100: 10: 1
(C:N:P), it is safe to assume that soil microbes are a dependable indicator of soil health. Carbon is the driver of the soil nutrient-microbial recycling system.
Water extractable organic C (WEOC):Consists of sugars from root exudates, plus organic matter degradation. This number (in ppm) is the amount of organic
C extracted from the soil with water.This C pool is roughly 80 times smaller than the total soil organic C pool (% Organic Matter) and reflects the energy
source feeding soil microbes. A soil with 3% soil organic matter when measured with the same method (combustion) at a 0-3 inch sampling depth produces
a 20,000 ppm C concentration. When the water extract from the same soil is analysed, the number typically ranges from 100-300 ppm C. The water extractable
organic C reflects the quality of the C in the soil and is highly related to the microbial activity. On the other hand, % SOMis about the quantity of organic C.
In other words, soil organic matter is the house that microbes live in, but what is being measured is the food they eat (WEOC and WEON).
If this value is low, it will reflect in the C02 evolution,which will also be low. So less organic carbon means less respiration from microorganisms, but again
this relationship isunlikely to be linear. The Microbially Active Carbon (MAC = WEOC / ppm CO2) content is an expression of this relationship. Ifthe percentage
MAC is low, it means that nutrient cycling will also be low. One needs a %MAC of at least 20% for efficient nutrient cycling.
Water extractable organic N (WEON):Consists of Atmospheric N2 sequestration from free living N fixers, plus organic matter degradation. This number is
the amount of the total water extractable N minus the inorganic N (NH4-N + NO3-N). This N pool is highly related to the water extractable organic C pool and
will be easily broken down by soil microbes and released to the soil in inorganic N forms that are readily plant available.
Organic C: Organic N:This number is the ratio of organic C from the water extract to the amount of organic N in the water extract. This C:N ratio is a critical
component of the nutrient cycle. Soil organic C and soil organic N are highly related to each other as well as the water extractable organic C and organic N
pools. Therefore, we use the organic C:N ratio of the water extract since this is the ratio the soil microbes have readily available to them and is a more sensitive
indicator than the soil C:N ratio. A soil C:N ratio above 20:1 generally indicates that no net N and P mineralization will occur. As the ratio decreases, more N
and P are released to the soil solution which can be taken up by growing plants. This same mechanism is applied to the water extract. The lower this ratio is,
the more organisms are activeand the more available the food is to the plants. Good C:N ratios for plant growth are <15:1. The most ideal values for this
ratio are between 8:1 and 15:1.
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Soil Health Calculation:This number is calculated as 1-day CO2-C/10 plus WEOC/50 plus WEON/10 toinclude a weighted contribution of water extractable
organic C and organic N. It represents the overall health of the soil system. It combines 5 independent measurements of the soil’s biological properties. The
calculation looks at the balance of soil C and N and their relationship to microbial activity. This soil health calculation number can vary from 0 to more than
50. This number should be above 7 and increase over time.
Some of the inter relationships between these variables are explored below
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Figure 11: Comparison of the SH scores for Bergville participants (N=10) with microbial respiration and organic carbon.
The general assumption here is that if the level of organic C in a plot is high, then the microbial respiration will also be high, as will the soil health scores and
vice versa. This is not always the case, as the relationship is not necessarily a linear one.
The CO2-C respirationalso gives and indication of the potential mineralisationof N for the soil aswell as organic matter content. The smalltable below
indicates these relationships.
M+B VeldB Conv
C SPSCC Labl
ab MM+B M+C
PSCCVeld Conv
C SPM+B Veld M+C
PSCCVeld Conv
C MMM+B M+C
PSCCVeld Conv
C MB
EqeleniEzibomviniMhlwazini NdunwanneStulwane
Average of CO2 - C, ppm C129. 277. 91.3 48.4 83.1 68.5 24.7 82.3 126. 129. 137. 49.7 110. 174. 195. 143. 63.6 396. 136. 80.4 169. 265. 307. 158. 75.9
Average of Organic C ppm C179. 250. 241. 163. 276. 237. 187. 185. 176. 126. 261. 198. 224. 196. 236. 213. 167. 492.251. 142. 192. 264. 307. 225. 122.
Average of Soil health calculation (new)13.7 26.1 15.69.315.7 13.17.612.6 16.2 14.2 17.7 10.5 16.0 19.7 21.2 17.5 10.9 35.8 18.1 11.717.9 26.0 28.3 19.2 10.7
0.0
100.0
200.0
300.0
400.0
500.0
600.0
Axis Title
SHo scores,CO2 respiration and organic carbon; Bergville 2018-2019
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Test results ppm CO2-C
N mineralisation potential
Biomass
>100
High-N potential soil. Likely sufficient N for most crops
Soil very well supplied with organic matter. Biomass>2500ppm
61-100
Moderately-high. This soil has limited need for N
supplementation
Ideal state of biological activity and adequate organic matter
31-60
Moderate. Supplemental N required
Requires new applications of stable organic matter. Biomass
<1200ppm
6-30
Moderate-low. Will not provide sufficient N for most
crops
Low in organic structure and microbial activity Biomass <500ppm
0-5
Little biological activity; requires significant fertilisation
Very inactive soil. Biomass<100ppm. Consider long term care
For the above figure the following trends can be seen:
All the CA samples for all five villages fall within the >100ppm and 61-100ppmC02C respirationcategories;indicating adequate to high levels of
organic matter, an ideal state of biological activity and a moderate to high N- mineralisaton potential.
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The two Conventional tillage samples (sweet potato) fall within the
moderate category where addition of organic matter is required as
well as supplemental N. the Conventional maize control for
Ndunwana however has extremely high respiration and organic
carbon values This value is somewhat of a mystery-as the
benchmark veld samples for Ndunwana are quite low. The fact that
it is a newly tilled plot, does not fully explain the result.
In conclusion the soil health status of the CA trial plots are moderately high
to high, with good organic matter content and ideal states of biological
activity, as indicated in the small figure alongside. The highest values for %Om
are for the M+CP and SCC plots which confirms the observations that these
crop combinations are the bet at improving soil health in the short term.
Figure 12: % OM for different CA crop combinations in Bergville; 2018-2019
Below is a comparison of the soil health status for Ezibomvini across two seasons.
BConv C
SP LablabMM+B M+CPSCCVeld
Total 4.8 2.8 3.2 3.8 3.9 4.9 4.8 6.2
0.0
1.0
2.0
3.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
% OM
% OM for different crop combinations, Bergville
2018-2019
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Figure 13: Comparison of Soil health indicators for Ezibomvini across two cropping seasons;
2017/18 and 2018/19
NOTE: CONV C SP ;conventional control sweet potatoes, LabLab; Dolichos beans, M;Maize, M+B; maize and bean intercrop, M+CP; Maize and cowpea intercrop, SCC; summer cover crop mix
millet, sunnhemp and sunflower)
Average
of % OM
Average
of CO2 -
C, ppm C
Average
of
Organic
C ppm C
Average
of
Organic
N ppm N
Average
of C:N
ratio
Average
of Soil
health
calculati
on (new)
Cont M3.873.1233.5 19.112.613.9
M+B 4.769.9 243.5 22.211.213.2
SCC 4.073.7 263.3 20.313.114.0
Veld 3.984.8 285.3 17.816.315.2
0.0
50.0
100.0
150.0
200.0
250.0
300.0
Soil health Ezibomvini 4th yr (N=3)
Average
of % OM
Average
of CO2 -
C, ppm C
Average
of
Organic
C ppm C
Average
of
Organic
N ppm N
Average
of C:N
ratio
Average
of Soil
health
calculati
on (new)
Conv C SP2.949.7198.015.8 12.5 10.5
Lablab 3.268.5237.014.7 16.1 13.1
M3.624.7 187.0 13.813.67.6
M+B 3.682.3185.714.4 12.8 12.6
M+CP 4.5 126.2176.515.1 11.7 16.2
SCC 5.3129.6 126.08.814.314.2
Veld 5.8 137.0261.715.4 17.0 17.7
0.0
50.0
100.0
150.0
200.0
250.0
300.0
Axis Title
Soil health Ezibomvini 5th yr (N=2)
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When comparing the two graphs (4th and 5th year) above, it can be seen that the soil health scores (SH) are comparable for f the CA cropping options
SCC (5th); SH=14,2 and SCC (4th); SH =14,0
M+B (5th); SH=12,6 and M+B (4th); SH=13,2
The SH score for the veld samples however differ quite a lot; mainly due to a difference in measured Organic C and Organic N.In general, the Organic C and
Organic N values for the 4th year are markedly higher than those measured for the 2018-2019 season. But the microbial respiration values for comparable CA
samples (M+ and SCC) are markedly higher for the 5th year. While the flux and flow of organic nutrient availability and microbial growth are quite complex,
with many interrelated parameters, the trends in decrease in organic C and N are considered to be related primarily to a slow, but definite drying of the soil
profile over the last two years. The trend towards increased microbial activity in the multi-cropped (M+B, M+BP and SCC) and legume (Lab-Lab) plots in the
5th year clearly indicate the value of these practices for sustained soil health under conditions of climate variability (late onset of rain, variable rainfall and
increased temperatures)
As mentioned above in the discussions around soil water content and water holding capacity, finding appropriate controls to compare the CA results against,
has been a challenge. This season a conventional control plot was chosen where increased tillage and mono-cropping is practiced. The l=plot was planted to
sweet potatoes. We however, did not take into account the historical land use of this plot, so while the lower % OM and microbial respiration was expected,
the higher levels of organic N were not. We have not compared the Ca and conventional plots directly for this reason.
In addition, the CA maize plot for 2018-2019 (5th year), shows a very low microbial respiration rate, despite having reasonably high organic C and Organic N
values. The understanding here is that there are localised differences in soil quality between the 10x10m CA plots in Phumelele Hlongwane’s field that have
reduced these values considerably. These differences are not directly related to the multi-cropping and crop-rotation practices for the CA trial, but are more
likely due to a lower microbial count, or localised soil pathogens. This was reported on in the 2016-17 report, where a supplementarysoil pathogen study
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conducted by the ARC showed high levels of root and crown rot fungal species in her CA plots; notably Fusarium and Phoma species.
6
. The data indicated
that the severity of root rots is higher in the CA plots than the conventionally tilled plots.
This will be considered further under the PLFA result section. The table below indicates Phumelele’s rotations in the last four years.
6
Agricultural Research Council. Plant Protection Research Institute. P/Bag X134, Queenswood, Pretoria 0121. Preliminary Consultation Report-
Analyses Of Soil borne Diseases Of Maize, Soybean And Sunflower Soil Health Project. Prepared by: Dr Sandra Lamprecht and Thabo Phasoana.
Tel: (021) 887 4690 Fax: (021) 887 5096. Email: lamprechts@arc.agric.za
Plot
no
2015/16
2016/17
2017/18
2018/19
Run off plots
1
M+B
M
M +WCC
SCC
Green squares indicate
run-off plots
2
SCC
M
M+B
M+CP
Rotations have been done
attempting to ensure a
different crop/crop mix on
each plot in each
consecutive year.
A further refinement of
the schedule to be a 3-
year rotation of; single
crop intercrop-cover
3
M+SCC+WCC
M+B
M
MCP
4
M+B
LL
M
M+B
5
LL
M
LL
M
6
M+LL
SCC
M+CP
M+B
7
M+CP
M
M+CP
M+B
8
M+B
M+CP
B
M+B
9
M+CP
M+B
SCC
M
10
M+B
M+B
M
LL
CA Control:
M
CA Control:
M
CA Control M
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For 2018-2019 (5th year) the soil health results
indicate the following trends:
The average % OM is higher for all the CA
cropping options when compared to the conventional control. The SCC CA plot has a value close to that of the natural veld sample, indicatingthe
greatest build- up of organic carbon for this cropping option. This trend was also noticed for the 2017-2018 cropping season (4th year)
The microbial respiration is highest for the SCC CA plot, followed by the maize and legume (cowpea, bean) intercropped plots and Lab-Lab beans and
is lowest for the mono-cropped maize. A similar trend was noticed for the 2017-2018 cropping season (4th year).
The average organic N is the highest for the three CA pots containing legumes (Lab-Lab, M+B and M+CP). And lowest for the SCC plot. A similar trend
was noticed for the 2017-2018 cropping season (4th year).
A low C:N ratio is considered beneficial for nutrient availability for crop growth. The lowest values are found for the CA intercropped plots (M+B and
M+CP), followed by the CA maize plot. Again, the trend is similar to the 2017-2018 results
The Conventional control plot showed the highest average organic N value (15,8ppm).
Using the soil health test results, it is also possible to explore the compositionof the microbial population in the soil, looking at the different types of
microorganisms and their prevalence.
,
Generallyit is known that conventional tillage systems favour
decomposer/saprophytic fungi, with small hyphal networks. These are
important in soil fertility but play a very small role in carbon storage.
Conservation Agriculture systems favour Mycorrhizal fungi which have large hyphal networks and play a major role in carbon storage. Mycorrhizal fungi get
their energy in a liquid form, as soluble carbon directly from actively growing plants. They accessand transport water -plus nutrients such as phosphorus,
nitrogen and zinc -in exchange for carbon from plants. Soluble carbon is also channelled into soil aggregates via the hyphaeof mycorrhizal fungi and can
undergo humification, a process in which simple sugars aremade up into highly complex carbon polymers. Aggregate stability is thus an important emerging
quality of the soil under CA. It is measured as % volumetric stability, as shown in the small table alongside.
crop, will be adhered to
into the future
Control: M
(CA)
CA Control:
M+B (CA)
Conventional
control: SP
Volumetric Aggregate stability %
0 - 15 %
15 - 30 %
30 - 45 %
45 - 60%
> 60%
Very low
Low
Average
Good
Excellent
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From the soil health, microbial respiration and organic
carbon data for Ezibomvini and Ndunwana, the
expectation is that aggregate stability will be good to
excellent. This is indeed the case for Ndunwana (as
shown in Figure5), where the values % range from 45-
46,5%. For Ezibomvini however, there is a range of values
from low, through average to good. This would mean,
among other things, that the Mycorrhizal fungi
populations in the Ezibomvini soils are not building up as
expected and shows highvariation between plots (within
on field).
Figure 14: A comparison of % aggregate stability for soil health
samples from Ezibomvini and Ndunwana
The PLFA analysis conducted and presented below,
sheds some light on this.
PLFA ANALYSIS
PLFA (Phospholipid fatty acid) analysis of the microbial populations in the samples provides a breakdown of the type of organism present; bacteria, fungi
and protozoa, as well as their relative abundance. This is basedon the different and distinguishable biochemical structures and processes for these organisms.
Although this analysis can get very complex two simplified snapshots of the process are provided in the figures below
Conv
C SP
Labla
bMM+BM+CP SCCVeldM+CP SCCVeld
Ezibomvini Ndunwanne
Average of Soil aggregates25.0 32.0 45.0 25.3 31.5 27.0 42.0 46.5 45.0 40.0
Average of Soil health calculation
(new) 10.5 13.17.612.6 16.2 14.2 17.7 21.2 17.5 10.9
Average of CO2 - C, ppm C49.768.524.782.3126.2 129.6 137.0 195.7 143.763.6
0.0
50.0
100.0
150.0
200.0
250.0
Soil Health scores compared to soil aggregates and CO2-C
for Ezibomvini and Ndunwana 2018-2019
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Figure 15: PLFA results for microbial populations from Ezibomvini and Ndunwana
soil health samples; Bergville 2018-2019
From the above figures on PLFA results the following trends can be seen:
Mycorrhizal fungi populations for the CA maize (Mtrial) in Ezibomvinias extremelylow, when compared to the veld sampleand the samples from
Ndunwana; although the Mycorrhizal populations are quite small when compared to the overall microbial populations present in these sites.
For the Ezibomvini samples the total microbial biomass for the Mtrial sample is lower than the Conventional control sample. This low microbial mass
is not reflected in the %OM (3,65) or the organic carbon (187ppm) and organic nitrogen (13,8ppm) content of the plot; these values being quite high.
Conv C
SP Mtrial Veld MtrialSCCVeld
Ezibomvini Ndunwana
Average of
Fungi:Bacteria 0.08 0.22 0.51 0.30 0.18 0.22
Average of
Gram(+):Gram(-) 1.77 1.00 1.49 1.24 1.79 1.58
Average of
Predator:Prey 0.00 0.01 0.01 0.02 0.00 0.01
0.00
0.20
0.40
0.60
0.80
1.00
1.20
1.40
1.60
1.80
2.00
PLFA results; ratios of different organism
types; Bergville 2018-2019
MtrialVeld Conv C
SP Mtrial VeldSCC
Ezibomvini Ndunwana
Average of Arbuscular
Mycorrhizal 9.4170.8 140.9 217.468.179.4
Average of Saprophytes104.6 982.4 305.3 581.5 253.7 264.1
Average of Actinomycetes
biomass 208.4 376.7 253.2 352.8 223.5 259.4
Average of Rhizobia0.0 126.0 0.021.30.00.0
Average of Protozoa biomass0.029.7 17.9 44.7 13.08.8
Average of Bacteria biomass1504.0 2257.3 2015.7 2679.2 1433.2 1917.0
Average of Undifferentiated1448.4 1750.2 1610.1 2369.3 1128.5 2081.4
0.0
500.0
1000.0
1500.0
2000.0
2500.0
3000.0
PLFA results for Ezibomvini and Ndunwana;
Bergville 2018-2019
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This means that the microbial biomass in this particular plot is being dampened for another reason, the most likely being disease, shown in the 2nd
graph in Figure 6 above. Here the proportion of gram -bacteria in the soil is higher than any of the other plots tested and the reasonably high
proportion of fungi:bacteria (0,22) when compared to the other samples, points towards a possibility of disease causing fungal species. From this
and other analyses done, it would appear that this situation is specific to this plot (and perhaps 2 others) in Phumlele Hlongwane’s CA trail.
Mycorrhizal fungi populations in the CA trail plots (Maize and SCC) are considerably higher than the veld benchmark, indicating the expected build-
up of these fungi in the CA cropping system
NITROGEN
In the dryland cropping system around Bergville, as in most other dryland cropping areas in South Africa, supplementation with inorganic Nitrogen is
considered an important strategy for optimal crop growth. In our CA study different crop combinations and cropping options are being explored to assess
the potential of providing this nitrogen through improvement of natural nutrient flow cycles. Inorganic N, besidesbeing expensive, also has been shown to
dampen the natural microbial activity in the soil and can also be partially ineffective under extreme conditions of drought and heat.
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An analysis of immediate release N has been done, as well as
an estimation of the rand value of inorganic nitrogen saved
/ha for different cropping options under CA. The immediate
release N- is the water extractable organic Nitrogen, which is
immediately available to the next crop.
Figure 16:Comparison of immediate release N and Rand value of
inorganic Nitrogen substituted for organic N for 5 villages in Bergville;
2018-2019
From this figure the expected progression of increase in
available Nfrom a CA maize monocropa summer cover crop
mix to a maize and bean intercrop a maize and cowpea
intercrop is clearly visible. The CA beans only plot has a
somewhat unexpectedly low result. On average the rand
value of inorganic N saved in this process is R318/ha. If a
recommendation of 60Kg/ha of Nis used, this equates to a
saving of around 47% on inorganic fertilizer more
specifically for the plots that integrate legumes (M+B, M+CP and Lab-Lab beans). The average rand value for inorganic N savedin the previous season (2017),
was R393. It is assumed that this value is higher because of the higher soil water content (better soil water distribution inthe soil profile throughout the
season). This indicates the effect of heat and dry soil profiles on the ability of the soils to process and maintain nutrients.
COMPARISON OF SH TEST RESULTS 2015-2018
One can compare the soil health data for the different participants over time to track improvement in soil health scores. Theassumption is that soil health
will improve over time with CA implementation. The figure below summarises the data for five participants between 2015/16 to 2018/19
BConv C
SP LablabMM+B M+CPSCCVeld
Average of N Immediate release25.0 30.5 33.0 26.5 30.7 32.2 28.7 34.0
Average of R value of Org N278.50 341.00 369.00 299.50 346.29 364.83 320.33 379.56
0.0
50.0
100.0
150.0
200.0
250.0
300.0
350.0
400.0
Immediate release N and Rand values of N for different CA cropping
options in Bergville; 2018-2019
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Figure 17: Soil health data for 5 participants from Bergville;2015-2018
From the above figure the following trends are visible:
Soil health scores have increased between 2015-2018 and the average SH score for 2017/18 is 18,74.
Despite the fluctuations inCo2_C (microbial respiration) organic carbon and organic nitrogen in the four years of measurement, the overall values have
increased substantially since 2015.
Interestingly the C:N ration has been systematically increasing rather than the expected reduction. It indicates a higher proportional increasein
organic nitrogen in the soil, as compared to organic carbon through the CA practices employed inthe programme. It is likely also an effect of a
somewhat reduced ability to improve organic carbon in the soil through the traditional practice of livestock grazing on crop residues.
,The extreme climatic conditions in the area, including heat and dry soil profiles, reduces the soil health impact of the CA practices and also increases
variability in the results for different seasons.
CO2 - C(ppm)Organic C (ppm)Organic N (ppm)C:N ratioSoil health calculation
2015 132.7 118.5 11.6512.113.6
2016 72.95198.55 14.02514.558.525
2017 86.2 280.5 19.414.015.2
2018 149.68 227.0214.6216.5818.74
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
SH scores for bergville 2015-2018
WRC K4/2719 Deliverable 7: Progress report
Mahlathini Development Foundation May 2019
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Alice/King Williams Town- EC
Written by Mazwi Dlamini
Introduction
For the past season there have been challenges in data collection from the tunnel experimentation
site at Zingisa in Berlin, mainly due to the unavailability of dedicated personnel at the training garden
where the process was set up. The student from Fort Cox ATI to whom this responsibility was given,
was unable to focus sufficiently. The personnel would oversee the watering and maintenance of the
experimental as well providing readings on a regular basis. The sensors were mainly to be used as a
tool to determine watering needs on the experiment.
More recently Nompumelelo Mendwana has since joined Zingisa and will be based on site as an intern
(from Fort Cox ATI). Some duties assigned to her are that ofmaking sure that experiments on site are
maintained, records of both rainfall events and watering patterns noted and data uploaded.
Nompumelelohas also agreed to a monthly report on the progress of crops; growth, replanting,
harvests, pests and diseases and any other comments worth mentioning. She was also assisted in
setting up her phone to connect to the sensors and has been provided with 500MB of data monthly
for her to upload data on a weekly basis.
Progress thus far
The tunnel has been doing quite well, the structure is still intact with no holes around it and crops in
the tunnel are growing well with cooler soil. Crops in the tunnel have been requiring less water when
compared to crops outside the tunnel. For a very long period, the sensors were showing beds to be
dry, despite the insistence of the interns that they were watering these beds. A decision was taken to
double the amount of water provided from 20L to40L every three days. Since this, sensors on the VIA
website have been positively responding to the increased amount of water on the beds. Soil samples
were also taken for chemical analysisand showed what we suspected; these are hydrophobic infertile
grey soils with a tendency to compaction and are extremely hard when dry. No specific problems in
the soil chemistry have been noted.
A summary of the chameleon readings for the three beds (raised bed outside tunnel, trench bed
outside tunnel and trench bed inside the tunnel) indicate that finally enough water is being provided
to the beds(April-July 2019). During July, irrigation has stopped, as the broccoli planted has now been
harvested and the beds are being prepared for the next cropping season.
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Figure 18: Chameleon data for the trench bed inside the tunnel: EC July 2019
Figure 19: Chameleon data for the trench bed outside the tunnel: EC July 2019
The purple colour indicated in the trench bed outside the tunnel is due tohigh levels of humic acids,
due to organic matter decomposition and were due to a new trench bed being made for the purposes
of this experiment.
Figure 20: Chameleon data for the raised bed outside the tunnel
Growth comparisons inside and outside the tunnel have not been made in any coherent manner, but
the student did not notice much of a difference as indicated in the two photographs below. He
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photographs indicate broccoli plants form which the heads have already been harvested. The process
of monitoring crop growth and yields has again been inconsistent.
Figure 21: Comparison of crops outside (left) and inside (right) the tunnel
Sedawa, Turkey, Mametja - Limpopo
Written by Erna Kruger, MazwiDlamini and Betty Maimela
Most of the fieldwork and monitoring are conducted under the AWARD AgriSiprogramme. Below a
snapshot is provided of some of the CCA related aspects pertinent to this process. The adaptation
impact assessment and resilience snapshot methodology designed under this research process was
used to get an indication of impact for 6 participants in the Limpopo learning groups.
Learning processes for the Limpopo learning groups conducted are summarised in the table below.
Table 18: Summary of learning sessions conducted: May-July 2019
Turkey 1 and 2,
Sedawa,
Mametja,
Botshabelo,
Dated
Activity
No of
parti
cipan
ts
Comments
Turkey, Sedawa,
Mamejta,
Botshabelo
2019/05/08-
12
Individual garden
monitoring
21
Assessment of integration of CSA
learning into gardening and field
cropping implementation
Turkey, Sedawa,
Lepelle
2019/05/16
Organic mango
production post
training
monitoring
10
To assess how well participants
have been implementing their
organic mango production
working towards a PGS and
marketing strategy
Turkey
2019/05/23
Natural pest and
diseasecontrol
workshop
11
To assist the group with garden
management and pest control
issues in their shade cloth tunnels
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Sedawa, Turkey,
2019/05/07/0
9, 2019/06/07
and
2019/07/02
S&W conservation
and small dam
construction
11, 8,
12,
15
Construction of check dams,
stone lines, swales and shallow
trenches as well as small dams
sealed with bentonite-with
planning for inflow and overflow
Sedawa, turkey
2019/06/10-
13
Resilience
snapshots
6
Individual interviews, to test the
impact assessment methodology
in Limpopo
Willows
2019/06/27,
07/04, 07/07
Crop
management and
soil health
workshop, trench
bed construction
with CWP team
and garden
monitoring follow
up
12,1
6
These were essentially revision
workshops to re-introduce CRA
practices to new members in the
learning group
Sedawa, Turkey
2019/06/28
Cropping calendar
16
Betty andthegroup worked
through this process-toassist
with record keeping and planning
for plating
Turkey
2019/06/29
Provision of 20
layers for small
layers unit in
Turkey
9
The Phedisang Turkey DIC group
and a fewmembers of learning
group, Mazwi Dlamini
Turkey, Sedawa
2019/06/28
Proposal writing
for community
level water
proposals
15,1
8
Water committees were assisted
to write proposals to the US
embassy forfunding their
cooperative development of
boreholes for irrigation
Resilience snapshots
6 participants from Sedawa and Turkey in Limpopo were interviewed. The results are summarise
below.
1. Learning and change
Question 1: What have you learnt about dealing with CC and climatic extremes?
I have learnt that practices such as trench beds and tunnels provide good growth and yields,
despite difficult weather conditions. Also, these practices are cheap. Although it is initially a
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lot of work, the increased yields make a big difference. We get more food than we did before
and will now be able to continue farming
Tunnels also help in reducing heat and water stress in plants and this leads tomuch better
production
Tunnels help in this extreme heat by protecting our vegetables from heat and pests. Climate
smart practices enable us to continue with farming activities even in this difficult climate
change.
Having a tunnel and mulching inside the tunnel is the best in water management for irrigation.
Irrigation management, such as using drip kits help a lot asthere is less evaporation and water
is saved. It also saves time.
Working with mixed cropping and crop rotation has decreased the incidence of pests and
diseases, although there are still problems.
Including more organic matter in the soil helps to hold water and to protect plants from heat
stress.
Working with the five fingers principles [manage soil movement, manage soil fertility,manage
water, manage crops and manage natural resources) (tool) helps to keep in mind all different
aspects to include in changing practices
Using liquid manure and mixed cropping means that I now do not need any other means for
pest and disease control.
I have learnt about practices that will help me continue with farming activities even though
water is a struggle and the sun is too hot for any vegetable to survive in our environment, the
little we have been given is better than nothing.
Leaving the soil exposed to heat and rain and turningover the soil to plough and plant has
destroyed the soil making it infertile and very hard. Improving the soil takes time, but makes
a big difference in growth of crops.
I learnt to conserve water, by using grey water and mulching in my garden. I also learnt a lot
on the importance of soil health.
I have learned the importance of saving water and the conserving our soil.
I have experienced harsh weather with no rain and harvests using our traditional ways of
farming, which affected our livelihood as we had to buy all vegetables instead of growingthem
myself. Now I know how to deal with changes of climate, since I met Mahlathini and AWARD,
and they taughtus practices that changed my life. I don’t buy vegetablesthat I need every
day, I pick from my garden.
Question 2: What is your experience regarding the impact of CC on your life?
Climate change has been hard on us, especially on our farming activities. Farming seems
impossible in this condition, especially with no rain. Being unemployed and relying on old age
grant is even worse, as the head of the household; farming makes it better because you farm
for both consumption and making an income
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Question 3: Do you share your knowledge and experiences with the learning group or community
members?
Yes, I talk to my neighbours about the gardening practices, so that they can also try and
revive their gardens
Yes, I share my experiences and knowledge with community members at the workshops
and my neighbours; by telling them what we do and how the knowledge is helpingus in
terms of making things better
Yes, I share my knowledge, especially with unemployed members of the community
because I am making a living and I don’t go hungry with my small garden
Question 4: How do you share the knowledge gained with other members of your community?
Discussions at savings meetings, at the springs when we collect water
By inviting them to join us on our meetings and sharing experiences
Always have meetings where we invite community members to join and we share all
knowledge and experiences
I invite people community members to attend meeting with us and also allow community
members in my household
I share my experiences and knowledge learned from working with Mahlathini with the
community and I also recruit new members to join and learn like am learning.
Ido visits community members selling them vegetables and share with them what I have
learned and how it is helping me, to encourage them to see what we are benefiting to better
our finance and was of farming
Question 5: What helps you to learn more about new innovations and information?
No (N=6)
Comments
Listening to other farmers
experiences and experiments
5
By doing and experimenting in
own garden
5
Motivated by other farmers
work and experiences
4
This helps to motivate me to try out some of the
ideas myself
Learning workshops
5
Question 6: What new things have you added into your practices? How has it worked?
The shade net tunnels work very well to reduce heat and water stress and there are fewer
pests. We have added further shade- netting structures in our gardens
I have made my own version of a drip-kit using and old bucket and piping. This saves water
and time
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We dig small dams in our gardens during the summer months, so that the added water can
penetrate into the soil and there is enough moisture in the soil to grow our dryland crops such
as maize, cowpeas, peanuts and sweet potatoes
Using manure and mulchingin our traditional beds-the furrows and ridges has helped to
increase crop survival and yields
The tower gardens are very productive and this is a nice, clean way of using greywater, which
is sometimes the only water for gardening we have access to.
2. Climate smart practices
Section 1: Impacts and lessons learnt
Past Issues
Past practice
Present practice
Impact
Lessons
Drying fast,
wilting of plants,
having to irrigate
often
Exposing the soil
Cover the soil by
mulching and
farming inside the
tunnel
Less
evaporation and
my vegetables
don’t dry out
quickly
Learned the
importance of
covering the soil
and good water
management
Poor quality
vegetables
Not fertilising
the soil and
disturbing the
soil
Adding organic
material to the soil
and minimum soil
disturbance
Good soil
condition and
healthy
vegetables
I have to look after
my soil in order to
continue with my
farming activities
because I love
farming
Pest and disease
problems
Used ash -which
is only effective
for certain pests
Use liquid manure
made from weeds
and cow manure, I
also use mixed
cropping for pest
and disease control
Very good and
effective
We don’t need
chemicals to fight
pests and disease
in our garden as
they will affect our
soil and our health
Pest problems
Using blue death
Use liquid manure
for both soil fertility
and pest and
disease control
Healthy
vegetables and
good soil
conditions
We can use organic
materials from our
household to treat
pests and diseases
without using
chemicals
Soil erosion
Turning the soil
when planting
maize and cover
crops.
Minimum soil
disturbance when
planting maize (CA)
Softer soil that
holds more
water, better
yields
I learned that I
have to conserve
my soil, always
cover my soil.
Section 2: Assessment of impact for CSA practices tried out using local indicators
Scale:
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-1 = worse than normal practice
0=no change
1=some positive change
2=medium positive change
3= high positive change
Name of practice
Soil
Water
Productivity
Labour
Pest and disease
control
Cost and
maintenance
Livelihoods
Adaptation to
extreme weather
conditions
1
Trench beds
2
2
2
-1
0
2
2
2
2
Tunnels (w trench beds)
2
3
3
-1
2
1
3
3
3
Mulching
1
1
2
1
2
2
1
1
4
Mixed cropping and crop
rotation
0
1
1
1
2
2
1
1
4
Tower gardens
2
3
3
2
0
0
2
2
5
Planting basins
0
2
2
0
0
1
1
1
7
Raised beds, with mulch
1
2
2
1
0
1
0
1
8
eco-circle
2
3
2
-1
1
0
1
1
9
CA; w intercropping,
legumes, cover crops
3
2
3
1
1
0
2
2
1
o
Using goat manure
(composted in a kraal)
3
1
2
0
1
0
1
1
Section 3: Resilience snapshot
This section was compiled from a combination of all 6 interviewee responses.
Resilience indicators
Rating for increase
Comment
Increase in size of farming
activities
Gardening; 1%
Field cropping; 98%
Livestock; 6%
Cropping areas measured, no of livestock
assessed
Dryland croppinghas reduced
significantly due to drought conditions
and infertile soil
Increased farming activities
No
Most participants involvedprimarily in
gardening, with some field cropping and
livestock management
Increased season
Yes
For field cropping and gardening-autumn
and winter options
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Increased crop diversity
Crops: 21 new crops
Practices: 11 new
practices
Management options include; drip
irrigation, tunnels, no-till planters, JoJo
tanks, RWH drums,
Increased productivity
Gardening; 120%
Field cropping: 15%
Livestock: 6%
Based on increasein yields (mainly from
tunnels and trench beds for gardening
CA for field cropping
Increased water use
efficiency
45%
Access, RWH, water holding capacity and
irrigation efficiency rated
Increased income
13%
Based on average monthly incomes,
mostly though marketing of produce
locally and through the organic marketing
system
Increased household food
provisioning
Vegetables; 7-
10kg/week
Fruit; 5-10kg/week
Dryland crops (maize,
legumes, sweet
potatoes); 5-10kg/week
Food produced and consumed in the
household
Increased savings
Not applicable
Participants are not formally involved in
saving activities
Increased social agency
(collaborative actions)
2
Learning groups and local water
committees
Increased informed
decision making
5
Own experience, local facilitators, other
farmers, facilitators, extension officers
Positive mindsets
2-3
More to much more positive about the
future: Much improved household food
security and food availability
4. Conclusion
This resilience snapshot process provides a very clear indication of the contribution of agroecological
and climate smart practices in gardening and field cropping to the resilience of local livelihoods for
these households.Participants have increased their productivity; by more than doubling their
household food provisioning and increasing their monthly incomes by 13%.
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Monitoring of field cropping and CA in Limpopo
It has been 4years since farmers in the Lower Olifants’ Basin have had enough rain toharvest their
dryland crops at the end of the summer season. This season started like the previous years, with rain
only properlystarting in early January 2019. Despite this late start farmers inthe RESILMO Agricultural
Support Initiative took to their fieldswith enthusiasm. They included experiments in field cropping,
using the Conservation Agriculture principles introduced; namely, minimal soil disturbance (no
ploughing), keeping the soil covered (mulch and crop
residues) and crop diversity (intercropping and
planting of legumes and cover crops).
Figure 22:Above and alongside) are examples of maize planted
using CA principles in Sedawa and Turkey villages.
With all the changes in rainfall patterns and extreme heat, farmers are acutely aware of the impacts
of climate change on their environment and their farming patterns.The effects on their ability to
produce food under rainfed conditions have been significant, as besides not beingable to farm for the
past four seasons, this time period has also meant that many smallholders have lost their seed stock
for planting. In pockets, individuals with the ability to provide some supplementary irrigation have
managed to keep seed stocks of groundnuts, jugo beans (Bamabara groundnuts, cowpeas and
sorghum, alongside their traditional cucurbits, pumpkins, butternut and watermelons. They have
been supported to re-introduce maize and a range of cover crops such as sugar beans, cowpeas,
sunflower, Sunnhemp, millet, black oats, fodder rye and fodder radish) on the understanding that the
increased water use efficiency allowed throughCA could sustain these crops, or some of them at least,
in the lower rainfall years.Althoughmaize is not a particularly drought resistant crop, the farmers
were determined to plant maize, despite the potential of low yields and crop failure.
Below area few snapshots of the farmers’cropping and learning processfor 2018-2019.Around 50
farmers from 3 villages in the Lower Olifants (Sedawa, Botshabelo and Turkey) participated. They all
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planted a range of crops; maize, legume (cow-peas, groundnuts, sugar beans) and cucurbits
(butternut, Mokopu (traditional gourds), pumpkin, water melons), from which they managed to
harvest even though in some cases crops did not survive. Some farmers planted in their household
plots, while others took a chance and planted in their larger fields.
Potential advantages of CA that participants observed in their fields include:
Increased water holding capacity of the soil
Reduced erosion
Reduced heat stress for crops
Improved soil health and soil fertility
Reduced pest attacks
Figure 23:Above left: Mpelesi Sekgobela’s (Turkey) CA intercropping plot (maize and bambara groundnut), planted
across a slope for erosion control and water retention and Above right: Her field with maize, cowpea and pumpkin
intercropping
Farmers also noticed other differences between their local system and the CA experiments.For
example, they noticed that the narrow spacingof crops in the CA system worked a lot better than the
preferred wider spacing in the area. They worked on the understanding that the wider spacing
reduces water stress, as does monocropping, but found that the intercropping and close spacing
increased the potential of survival of their crops considerably. They realised that the cover provided
by the closely spaced grain-legume intercrop improves water holding and reduces the effect of
extreme heat.
Farmers also combined their traditional practices of making furrows and ridges, with the use of
compost and manure to good effect.
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Figure 24: Above Left: Meisie Mokoena’s (Mametja) conventionally planted maize and cowpea plot; most of the maize
didn’t germinate and Above right; a maize, cowpea and pumpkin intercrop planted in furrows and ridges, with addition
of compost
Figure 25:Above: In Meisie’s field she tried a number of different practices; different planting times, intercropping and
monocropping, mulching, stone lines and furrows and ridges.
In this way, and despite a high stalk borer load in the maize, farmers managed to harvest a range of
crops, including maize. For their conventionallyplanted plots, most farmers suffered crop failure
again. Yields in the CA plots have still been rather low, at around 80kg/ 1000m2 (~1,5t/ha). In good
seasons, in the past, farmers remember averaging around 240kg (~6,5t/ha) for similar sized plots. The
maize harvested is used to make maize meal locally, at a cost of R50for 12,5kg of maize. Although
these yields are only around 25% of the locally understood yield potential, farmersremain determined
to produce maize.
Miriam Malepe (Botshabelo)
Mariam Malepeis the local facilitator for Botshabelo. She didn’t follow the CA principles in her
household when she was planting maize and cover crops, opting instead to have a young boy plough
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for her. She had zero harvest from this
plot, where a combination of run-off
damage and heat destroyed her crops.
She then decided to follow the CA
principles in her big field, a small
distance from her homestead and here
she harvested of water melons,
pumpkins, ground nuts, cow-peas,
Mokopu (traditional gourd) and maize.
Figure 26: Right above: Miriam’s watermelon
yield. She sells them at R10/ melon in her
village and will make around R700, to use
towards household needs. Right below:
Miriam drying and preparing her maize.
Maria Morema (Sedawa)
She planted maize,sorghum, pumpkins, cow-peas, watermelons and ground nuts both in her field
which is in the mountains and her house hold plot. She sells both pumpkins and watermelons locally
for R10 each and they
are also eating them.
Figure 27:Right clockwise:
Maria’s maize and
pumpkin intercrop, a
watermelon and some of
her sorghum harvest
Mmatshego Shaai (Turkey)
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Mmatshego Shaai from Turkey planted ground nuts and Bambara nuts in her household plot. She did
not plant maize, due to the dryness of the season. She has received a good harvest and has sold both
the peanuts and the jugo beans locally, making around R600 to supplement household use and also
has kept seed for future planting.
Figure 28: Right clockwise: Mmatshego’s
plot planted to peanuts and jugo beans,
her jugo bean harvest and peanuts being
harvested and dried.
4. Conclusion
These smallholder farmers have shown a remarkable ability to adapt to their changing conditions
through using a combination of traditional and introduced climate resilient practicesand through
planting a variety of drought tolerant crops alongside their maize.
Even though maize didn’t grow all that well, farmershave found ways to incorporate and keep this
crop going in their farming system, despite the rainfall still being far below optimal at around 380mm
for the summer rainfall period (October 2018-April2019)
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Figure 29: Above left: A good stand of CA maize in Abridge Tshetlha’s field in Sedawa and Above right: Makibeng
Moradiya providing some green maize to her friend and local facilitator Christina Thobejane
Soil and water conservation at homestead level
A workshop was held in Turkey 1,at Lucas Makawane’s householdon the 7th of May 2019.
This was upon request form the learning group participants and the household members;
who were primarily concerned with seepage from a spring in the homestead above.
OUTLINE OF AGENDA
1. Brief review of 5 fingers implementation in Turkey; highlight lack of activities in soil and water
management
2. Discuss issues of waterflow inthe homestead where waterflows, issues with erosion, runoff, water
logging, water from roofs, present RWH activities, damp in household, problems with water from the
road etc
3. 2 Small groups do a diagram of waterflow in the HH and their suggestions for management.
4. Recommended actions summarised linked to input on contours and using line-levels awa options:
stone lines, swales, check-dams, Planting trees (Legumes)
5. Work together in small groups, to demonstrate these actions
INTRODUCTION
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Organising workshops this close to the elections caused some locallevel confusion, as the LFs assumed
people would not be available, but also went ahead and told some of the workshop. MDF decided to
continue with the workshop as there were around 17 people present and also mentioned to
participants as this process is location specific, it can be repeated again, if participants come forward
and ask for more of these workshops. The workshop planned for Sedawa had to be cancelled as the
LF did not invite participants.
Autumn is a good time to put in place S&W conservation measures in households, as it is still close
enough to the rainy season to give clear indications of waterflow and issues in the yard and
participants are not too busy with field cropping or gardening (in between seasons)
5 FINGERS AND S&W CONSERVATION INPUT
Participants briefly summarised their actions as follows:
Soil fertility: Compost, trench beds
Crop management: CA, natural P&D control, liquid manure (Banana stems manure, weeds)
Soil erosion control: mulching, stone lines
Figure 30: Right: the ditch draining
water away from houses at the top-
end of the yard
Far right: Run-off problems caused at
the side of the house due to lack of
gutters -small ditches havebeen made
in an attempt to divert water from the
donga forming lower down.
Householders comments about
their homestead
There is a non-perennial
spring in the year of the
homestead above and
when it rains a lot then
water seeps down into the top of their yard in a continuous sheet along the fence line. They
have dug a ditch to drain that water away from their yard, as it causes damp issues in their
house, which is quite close to the fence line. They have never considered using this water or
planting there, as the water only is there for a month or so after the rain stops and the soil
there is water logged- so that plants can not grow easily.
There are no gutters on house
There is a donga that has formed at the top of the garden/field, where they put bags filled
with sand and other garden wastes and branches to try and control this. It has only partially
helped and every year there is more damage. The household does not know what next to try
there, as it washes away their crops when it is raining.
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Generally, the soil in the yard and garden/field is very bad, it is gritty, shallow, extremely hard
and infertile. It is very difficult to dig in this soil and crops do not do well.
The household owners provided the team and participants with permission to do the construction of
various S&W conservation structures in their household. It is important to always negotiate these with
the owners, to ensure they are OK with changes being made in their homestead. In addition, organic
material (5-10x50kg bags), manure (5x50kg bags) and stones (1 bakkie load) had been collected prior
to the workshop.
Participants were encouraged to look
closely as water flow, run-off, erosion,
water harvesting, damp in the houses and
all related soil and water management
issues they could observe and were tasked
to make a diagram in 2 small groups. They
were to discuss their ideas about options
for improvementin each small group and
then report back to plenary.
Figure 31: Right and Far right: the two small groups
of participants busy with their water flow maps
and discussing suggestions for improvement.
Suggestions from the participants can be summarised as:
1. As the general slope of the plot, including the house is down hill towards the small field at the
bottom a smalldam should be constructed at the bottom of the fieldand all run-off channelled
into there.
2. Householders should make ridges and furrows and plant in those structures; the soil in the
field is hard and infertile and this will help
3. Householders should fertilize the soil using trench beds
4. Householders should make furrows and ridges across the donga on the one side and plan
sugar cane there, to utilize the increased water there
5. A small dam should be made next to the house, where the washing line presently is, as this
will reduce the run-off to the donga just below that and provide water that can be channelled
into the garden/field
INPUTS PROVIDED BY THE TEAM
There are handouts (Translated into sePedi available)
1. What are contours, why are they important, how to measure contours
2. Making and using a line level to mark contours
3. Check dams what are they, how and where re they constructed?
4. Using stone lines for erosion control and water flow management in the household
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5. Plantingmultipurpose plants on these structures, to use increasedwater available and hold soil.
(Pigeon peas and Sesbania Sesban
6. Making shallow trenches a variation on furrows and ridges, with more organic matter, made on
contour
Below a short summary of each practice is provided with a few photographs form the workshop
process
MARKING CONTOURS WITH LINE LEVELS.
Contours are imaginary lines across a slope where each point along the line is at the same height or
level. The important part about contours is that they are level and not straight necessarily. It is
important to make water and soil conservation structures ON these
contour lines, to slow down water, deposit silt and allow for infiltration
If they’re not level, water will still flow and potentially cause other
damage.
Line-levels are used to measure contour lines in a large garden/field
situation. The lines between the poles can be made to suite from
between 2-10m long. A small builder’s level is hung along the line in
the centre between the poles. It is important that the line is tied to the
two poles at exactly the same height.
Figure 32: Right: One of the sub groups of participants busy constructing their line
level
STONE LINES
These are stone lines packedalong a contour to reduce run-off, increase sedimentation and infiltration
in the soil they will eventually form s mall terraces.
These lines have to be keyed in by first digging a shallow ditch 30cm wide to place the stones in. They
are built up using flattish even stones starting with larger stones at the bottom and should be stable
enough for someone to walk over them once they are done,
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It is possible also to plant deep rooting plants, shrubs and trees along these stone lines. In this case
leguminous fodder trees were
focused on, as this provides high
nitrogen mulch as well as fodder for
chickens, goats and cows, but do not
grow into large trees
Figure 33: Right: A stone line constructed as
close as possible to the top of a slope as a
starting point, note that it is keyed in and
“slants” slightly uphill. Manure has been
worked into the soil above the stone line,
for planting. Far Right: Two stone lines
constructed around 2 meters apart and
planted to Sesbania sesban seedlings
CHECK DAMS
These are similar to stone lines, but require a bit more “construction’ as they are built across small
gulleys and drainage lines. Soil will build up behind the check dams. They need to be built roughly in
the shape of a banana, to have the lowest pointin
the gulley so that water can still flow over them, with
an apron of stone below the check dam wall to
ensure that this water does not cut into the soil. They
need to be securely keyed into the banks of the
gulley by digging a ditch 30cm wide and 30cm deep
within which the first line of stones is to be placed.
These structures need to be very stable and should
support people walking across them easily.
Figure 34: Right: Putting in the final completion touches to a
check dam built across a gulley forming at the top end of the
garden/field
SHALLOW TRENCHES
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This is both a soil erosion control and soil fertility enhancement technique for fields. To start contours
are marked using a line level. Then 30cm wide and15cm deep ditchers are dug along this line with the
soil placed below the ditch. The ditches are lined with a layer of mulch or dried plant material around
10cm deep and then a layer of manure that covers this; approximately 2-5cm deep. The soil is then
placed back over this mixture to
make a small ridge. Crops, such as
sweet potatoes can be planted on
this ridge and other crops such as
beans and grains, just above or
below, depending on the season.
Figure 35: Right: Digging the furrow for
the shallow trenches on a contour
marked using a line level and Far right;
the packed and planted (orange fleshed
sweet potato) shallow trench line in the
field.
SEED DISTRIBUTION AND DISCUSSION ON FODDER TREES
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Using the pictures shown
alongside, the planting of
and uses for leguminous
fodder trees were discussed
with the ground.
All 17 participants received
sample packets of pigeon
pea and Sesabania sesban
seeds and were keen to
plant these in their gardens
and fields.
For Pigeon peas, preplant
treatment consists of
soaking them overnight in
water and only planting
those seeds that have
swollen up, during soaking.
This shows that the seeds
are still viable.
Sesabania, is a fire acclimatised pioneer species. As such seed need to be soaked in boiling water for
10min prior to removing form the hot waterand being planted. They are unlikely to germinate without
this heat treatment. They are to plant them in basins or seed beds first creating small seedling trees,
that are transplanted to bags when about 10cm high and finally transplanted into a fieldsituation
when they are around 30cm high.
Small earth dams; Turkey, Sedawa
It is a traditional practice in the area to dig small earth dams in the gardens and fields during the rainy
season. These dams hold water for a short period only, but also help to increase the water content of
the soil as the water slowly drains into the surrounding profile.
Matshego Shaai (Turkey2) constructed such a dam in her garden, but had trouble during March-April
of this She requested assistance with design of her dam, to manage the inflow and over-flow aspects.
A workshop was held for the learning group participants, and including Esinah Malepe from Sedawa,
who had a similar request, in early Maydam overflowing and causing damage to her trench beds.
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Figure 36 Right: The breach in Matshego’s
small earth dam caused by heavy rains and
Far Right; deposited on top of her trench
beds built below the dam wall. Damage
was also caused in the tunnel
.
OUTLINE OF AGENDA
1. Discuss issues of waterflow in the
homestead where waterflows,
issues with erosion, runoff, water
logging, water from roofs, present
RWH activities, damp in household,
problems with water from the road
etc
2. Lay out possible options for placement of diversion ditches to channel water to the small dam site
3. Assess small dam for structural integrity and experiment with use of bentonite as a dam sealing
option.
WORKSHOP 1 IN TURKEY
This workshop was planned specifically for Matshego Shaai as she requested assistance with layout of
diversion ditchesto lead water to her small dam and also to provide an effective and safe overflow
option for this small dam, as some damage has been caused below this dam inthe past. As Esinah
Malepe from Sedawa has also tried constructing small dams in her homestead, as well as a few others
in Turkey, this ended up being a small specialised workshop for these participants.
PROCESS
The process consisted of doing a ‘walkabout” around the yard, closely observing the waterflow from
different sources, suchas the road, her house courtyard structures etc, to find the best places for
diversion ditches and also ideally for placement of the small dam.
Matshegomentioned that she has asked for assistance as she had found after digging this structure
that the water seeped into the ground around the damwhichin some ways was positive as it helped
her fieldcrops to be well irrigated, but caused some problems for a few vegetable beds directly below
the dam which were waterlogged for a few weeks and the parsley planted there died. During the
rainy season he tunnel which is about 2m below the small dam was also too wet. And then the water
did not remain in the dam for long after the rains ended 9it dried out completely within 2-3 weeks.
Participants suggested that Matshego plant trees or crops such as bananas and sugarcane directly
below her dam, to soak up the extra water there during the rainy season. These plants do not mind
having “wet feet” and will dry the soil enough for the other crops not to be waterlogged.
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Matshego has spent a lot of time and effort already in managing waterflow in her homestead; she has
gutters and Jo-Jo tanks installed and hasmake small terraces and stone lines. She has also planted
lines of trees and hedges and has thus managed to reduce any damagecaused by run-off to a
minimum.
A diversion ditch was constructed by the learning group participants to more effectively channel the
water to her small dame. A silt trap was dug into this ditch and an overflow was planned at the bottom
end of the small dam.
Discussions were held as to the construction of small dams- whether they should be round or square
and the advantagesand disadvantages of having perpendicular or angled walls. It was also discussed
that sealing the dams is not a requirement; having small dams that provide for increased infiltration
of water and underground water availability in seasonis also a very good strategy. Ways to seal the
dams were also discussed. Plastic is easy, not very expensiveand generally very inefficient -as dams
still tend to leak a bit and the plastic tends to disintegrate in the sun. As these dams are not full all the
time, plastic was considered inappropriate. It is possible todo a ferrocement lining. These are quite
easy as long as one lines the inside of the dam properly with mesh priori to plastering and then repair
any cracks or problems that ensue. This method has the advantage that the dam can be any shape
and also that it can work around obstacles such as bid boulders that could not be removed. It is more
expensive than using bentonite, but possible a lot more forgiving of inaccuracies than working with
bentonite.
Bentonite has the advantage that not further inputs are required and this can be done at home, with
the helpof some labour. The average small dam sizes for participants present meant they would need
12-14 x 25kg bags each and thus the process would cost around ~R1500.00
USE OF BENTONITE TO SEAL EARTH DAMS
NOTE: Mr Chris Stimie from RIEng assisted with procurement of reasonably prices bentonite
(~R100/25kg) from Benoni (Gauteng) and also with advice and specifications for using bentonite
Bentonite is a very fine clay, which is usedfor sealing earth dams,wherethe intrinsic soil structure
does not allow for longer term water holding.
There are a few different ways in which this is done:
Pouring the bentonite into the water of such a small dam, to settle and seal is perhaps the
least effective and most wasteful process- although it could be considered the easiest
Generally the best procedure is:
oTo ensure that the dam is empty and the soil of the dam wall and floors is dry
oTo mix bentonite with the top 10cm layer of the dam floor and the damwall, very
evenly to about 10% in weight. This comes to using around 12,5kg (1/2bag)for every
1m2of the dam area.
oThe walls need to constructed or shaved to be at a 30-45 degree angle, so that the
bentonite can be worked into the dam wall material
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oThe soil which the bentonite is mixed with needs to be finely worked, with not large
clods or stones, so that one has the sense almost ofmaking a plaster mix (for
construction)
oThe evenly mixed soil-bentonite walls and floor have to be tampeddown to be as level
and stable as possible and then covered with 30cm of soil
Below is a series of photographs showing the team’s experiment with using bentonite. Only a section
of the wall was used. This means the household will need to re-do this small patch when they do the
whole dam which they readily agreed to.
Figure 37: Above left to right: Measuring out a circle to change the dam shape from a rectangle and then shaving the
perpendicular walls to be at an angle of roughly 35 degrees. Marking out a m2area and then evenly distributing 12,5 kg
of bentonite over the are and carefully mixing in the bentonite into the top 10cm of the soil on the bank
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Figure 38: Right: Tamping down the
finalised mixture on the wall and Far-
right. Replacing a layer of soil over
this bentonite mixture. This layer in
our case was only about 5-10cm
deep - and not 30cm as
recommended, as this would reduce
the volume of this very small dam
dramatically.
It was decided that Matshego
would use a pipe to very slowly
and carefully fillher dam after
construction, to check whether
the walls will hold as is and
what the sealing effect to of
this process is. The group was aware that we were trying to find a way of using bentonite that would
suite their purposes and that this initial experiment may not work.
Below is a picture showing the result. At this point the dam had been filled two weeks prior to the
picture taken which is a good indication of the bentonite working well. Matshego still has to give
more attention to the overflow however.
WORKSHOP 2 IN SEDAWA
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A similar workshop was held in Sedawa, at Esinah Malepe’s home on the 7th of June 1029. Esinah had
already constructed her diversion ditches andwas in the process of shaping the dam for addition of
bentonite.
Figure 39: Right; Esinah’s
dam after the bentonite was
worked into the walls and
floor of the pond
Participants here were
in favour of this idea,
although some were
worried about having
open bodies of water in
their homesteads. They
suggested to make the dams smaller, so that they could be covered.
Four participants volunteered to construct small dams and tobe involved in the bentonite
experimentation process (Magdalena Malepe, Triphina Malepe, Koko Maphori and Mmakopile
Malepe).
Workshop 3 in turkey 2
After the first two workshops, despite the immediate positive results, we were still a little concerned
about the process of applying bentonite in the most effective manner. Thus, a third workshop was
initiated, where Chris Stimie from Rural Integrated Engineering joined the process to fine tune the
method.
INTRODUCTION
Small dams/pondspresent an opportunityfor farmers to harvest rain water and collect water from
nearby springs for those closer tothe mountains. Water is an everyday struggle for dwellers in the
village of Turkey and other surrounding villages where people buy drinking water and crops struggle
a lot under high temperatures. Rackson Makhobatlou is a farmer in the area who thought a small pond
may be of help for his farming prospects for irrigation as they almost never see any rain. He is hopeful
that the dam will hold enough water for his crops and chickens.
SMALL DAM CONSTRUCTION
The workshop started at about eleven o’clock at Mr Makhobatlou’s homestead in Turkey. The hole
that had been dug needed to be re-shaped and water was needed to be brought on site. Water was
very important for the mixingof bentoniteand soil as the dam lining to prevent water from seeping
through. Four individuals were commandeered to collect 400l of water from a nearby borehole while
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the rest of the groups altered the deep hole into a more open bowl to create a more even and gentle
slope that would make sure the soil-bentonite mixture stayed along the wall and did not slide down.
At the point depicted by the picture above, the team dedicated to collect water had made their way
back and weofficially started the day with a proper introduction. Chris delivered the talk and Betty
translated for localsin their vernacular. Chrishad drawn and photocopied all steps into making the
dam from start to finish and we had already coveredstep one; digging; and the importance of the
slope of the dam. Step two was to then measure out the dam into 1m x 1m grids allowing for the
calculation of bentonite to be used. The calculation is to apply 1x25kg bag of bentonite to every 2m².
The following step 3 was to evenly spread the bentonite all over the dam. Step 4 saw us mix the
bentonite into the soil starting from the bottom of the dam; these were mixed until the colours evened
out. The walls also had to be mixed in without moving the soils and here slope played a crucial role in
stabilizing soils, the less steep the better. The mixing was done twice to ensure an even mix of soil and
bentonite. The soil-bentonite mix was compacted making sure that it stuck on the wall.
Figure 40: Chris explaining the dam construction steps and Betty translating
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Step five; was sprinkling water all over the dam using a watering can, the watering can apply water
well enough without moving the soil and this allows the bentonite to expand across the wall. We
continued this process slowly untilwe started noticing a change in the soil texture. After about an
hour so, we put in another layerof soil to protect the bentonite mix after which more water was
applied to help seal the dam completely. 400L of water was then poured carefully into the dam using
bags to stop the top layer from running away to the bottom of the pond. A mark was made where the
water sat along the wall and was continuously checked on; our dam was waterproof!
Figure 41: Left, marking out grids, top right; bags placed on grids & bottom right, bentonite spread.
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The group was very excited seeing water sit on top of sandy soils and only then they appreciated the
bentonite and stared enquiring about. The bentonite is not available at local hardware outlets and is
twice the price of cement. Bentonite used on the day was bought and collected from Benoni, outside
of Johannesburg.
CONCLUSION
Mr Makhobatlou will be digging a furrow from his gate to the dam, where the furrow approaches the
dam, he will excavate a small slit trap. This depression will also serve as an overflow when the dam is
full; water will push out the dam via the silt trap and be directed along the outside of the dam to the
garden. He was also advised to look into buying shade cloth to protect water from evaporating as he
could easily see huge losses of water in the Limpopo heat.
Continuation of water issues in Sedawa
Here, a similar situation unfolded as was experienced in Bergville. The water committees lost traction
as participants’ hope for support by government was raised again by the elections. This made the
participants reluctantto contemplate the additional contributions required to make thelocal situation
work.
This led to smaller splinter groups forming and some people making their own arrangements with
private individuals supplying water in the area.
The water committees were subsequently assisted to write funding proposals to the US Embassy.
Follow -up on organic mango production training
A learning group meeting was held in Turkey to review learnings from the Organic Mango production
training and inform all learning group members about these learnings. The intention was also to
discuss implementation of new ideas and practices from this training.
Figure 42: Left, compacting the dam & right, water siting in the dam.
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Figure 43: Right: Clonecia discusses with the
learning group members what she
remembers from the Organic Mango
Production training at Hoedspruit Hub.
The local practice around Mango
trees, is not to prune them. People
believe this reduces production and
are thus reluctant to try it out.
Although the farmer experimentation
idea has been introduced to deal with
just such examples where the
“habitual” practice and the suggested
practice are at odds, some of the farmers are reluctant even to try the new ideas on a small scale to
see the outcome. In such cases new learning is unlikely to take place.
Farmers discussed some of their learnings including; planting seed correctly, making irrigation basins
around the trees, pruning for improved fruiting, burning of leaves below the tree during flowering to
reduce pest attacks and making compost. The organic PGS was introduced to the group, explaining
the need for this peer review system to ensure organic production for marketing and quality control
purposes.
Mr Malatji, the LF for the area suggested to the group that they set up a marketingcooperative, to
ensure everyone who is interested can be involved and that they work together rather than
competing. This would also help them to work at a commercial scale. He emphasised also that
community membersshould stop expecting handouts (seed etc) from the MDF facilitators, as their
job is to help people learn. The community needs to work towards being independent, so that they
can continue when MDF leaves the area.
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A monitoring process was
conducted for a selection of
the participants who
attended the course, to
assess experimentation
with the new ideas and
progress with mango
production. They were all
provided with another copy
of the annual mango
production planning cycle
(shown right), to assist with
their production cycle.
Below is a selection of photographs showing actions around mango
production.
Norah Tshethla (from Turkey):She has 8 mango trees (Tommey, peach
and sugar), all are old and have grown tall. Othersdied due to lack of
watering.
She undertook pruning of her trees, built basins for watering and
addition of compost around the trees, is now watering her trees on a
weekly basis and is producing compost
Figure 44: Right: Norah’s mangoes – pruned, with water harvesting basins and
compost added.
Matshego Shaai (from Turkey): She has 15 mango trees and is continually propagating more. She has
also undertakenpruning, made water harvesting basins and is producing compost for her trees.
Mmatshego explained that she didn’t have a problem with her harvest as she is used to pruningher
trees, she only has a problem of pests and rotten mangoes. She believes that with the knowledge she
gained from the workshop she will be able to control pests that decrease her harvests. She managed
to sell her mangoes to achar company in Sekororo making an income of R6 000, and she believes she
could have made more if she managed pest problem in time.
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Figure 45: Above and alongside: Matsehgo’s compost pile and mango tree prunings. A pruned tree with water harvesting
basin, and mulching of tree leaves.
Mpelesi Sekgobela (Sedawa): She pruned 12 of her 21 trees as an experiment to compare harvests
form pruned and un pruned trees. She
has now been irrigating trees since the
mango training, and no further trees
have died. She also started a small
nursery of mango trees from her own
pips and she sells the seedling for R20. 00
each, and has sold 10 seedlings to date.
Figure 46: Right: Mpelesi’s mango nursery and
Far right: a hard pruning done for an old
unproductive mango tree
Christina Thobejane (Sedawa): Shedidn’t attend the training workshop but farmers who attended
the workshop shared shared some information with her. She has 27 mango trees of a number of
varieties (Kent, peach, sugar, Tommy, Kiet and L1). She irrigates her trees twice a week. She sells
mangoes for both Archar (green) and in the community (ripe). In total,she has made R6 000 this
season and has bought a blender from her profits to make mango juice.
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Figure 47: Near right: A pruned
mango tree, here incorporated
into a trench bed design for
inclusion of organic matter,
mulching and water harvesting.
Middle right: A bottle of home-
made mango juice and Far Right:
Christina’s mango nursery.
3DECISION SUPPORT SYSTEM
Written By Erna Kruger and Matthew Evans1
1Final year computer programming student at University of Pretoria.
With the completion of the refinement step of the DSS computer modelling process, Matthew Evans
was brought on board to assist in designing an online survey process that could integrate the various
components and steps of the modelling process.
Development of the decision support tool/survey
Written by Matthew Evans
A brief summary of the design specifications and process is provided below.
Technologies used
-Angular 7: Angular is an industry-standard JavaScript framework developed and maintained
by Google. It is widely-supported and provides a solid foundation for web-based applications.
- Openlayers:Openlayers is a free, open source map layer rendering system. It is efficient and
powerful, and provides the necessary functionality to render and interact with the map in the
system.
-Custom GIS systems
-html2canvas, jspdf
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Implementation details
Design considerations
User interface to maintain a consistentstyling that is approachable, easy to read and modern,
Angular’s Material design has been used.This provides a formalized design and interaction system
based on Google’s Component Dev Kit. Smooth animations provide a better user experience
The web application has been designed to be primarily client-side. Client-side calculation and
rendering provides instantaneous feedback to the user an important part of this system.
Input fields are grouped such that relevant fields are grouped together, or at least within close
proximity. This helps the user cognitively shift subject-matter fewer times, reducing cognitive load.
Information that is difficult for the user to input, such as soil texture, soil organiccarbon content, slope
percentage and agro-ecological zone are automatically derived from GIS database data. This allows
the user to focus on parts of the survey that are more relevant to the user (such as demographic
details) and easier to fill in.
While the system automatically finds these values, the system is designed to be flexible for the user,
and allows them to change the values if they believe the data the system uses for their location is
incorrect/inaccurate.
The map uses hybrid tiles, rather than purely vector road maps or raster satellite tiles. This enables
the user to find locations easily by being able to see place labels and roads, while still showing natural
elements. Users can find the location they are looking for through steps of increasingly fine-grained
control by usingthe search box, looking for roadsor place names, and then lookingat the satellite
imagery to find an exact location, respectively.
Rather than requiringexact number/value inputs (aside from a few exceptions), the input has been
reduced to multiple choice where possible. This makes input easier and faster for the user, and
reduces the chance of user error. It also exposes the underlying functionality of the decision support
system, showing which variable boundaries affect the system, which might help inform the user.
Exceptions include dependency ratio calculation, where the number of adults and children fields are
numeric inputs dependency ratio is a difficult concept for users to understand and is calculated for
them.
Skeleton loading screens have been implementedfor both before the Angular application is
bootstrapped, and before the page loads. This helps increase the perception of performance.
GIS
Reliance on external APIs has been kept to a minimum for this system. If a third party were to shut
down or start charging for their previously-free services, it would require developer time before the
system could become operational again. As such, as much data as possible is stored and delivered
from the server to the client.
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Two external APIs are being used:
1. OpenStreetMaps Nominatim provides a simple API for querying locations by name, allowing
the user to search for map locations.
2. Google Maps Satellite tiles hybrid (photo with vector overlay) map tiles for the map
-Implementation of GIS
Server-sidecomputation is very expensive, but storage and delivery of files is not. To deliver GIS
information for a set of coordinates, large raster files must be traversed until the correct pixel
coordinate is found, and then return the value at that pixel. These raster files can easily reach 3GB for
South Africa alone for each variable (one for altitude data, one for soil texture, etc.).
Since no server-side calculations are happening, these large raster files are split up using custom
software on the desktop. The files are convertedinto ASC format (geographical ASCII text format)
which is a human- and computer-readable format. The tile is then split up into a user-defined number
of smaller tiles, and an index is built to determine which tiles correspond to an area of coordinates.
When a set of coordinates is queried by the system, the index is loaded, finds the cell in which those
coordinates fall, and then loads the tile that cell points to. This results in a reduced download size of
multiple gigabytes to only a few hundred kilobytes, making the system significantly faster and using a
fraction of the bandwidth.
In addition to partitioningof the map data, it is also compressed using gzip, giving a significant
reduction in storage usage and bandwidth cost to the client.
Services implemented for reading ASC files automatically categorise z-values from the ASC files into
enumerations defined in the system source. An exception is the SRTMShuttle Radar Topology Mission
data which automatically samples z-values from an area the size of the farm selected to find the slope
of multiple points, rather than assuming the entire farm is on one slope percentage.
PDF Export
PDF export was accomplished using the html2canvasand jspdf libraries. Each practice’s information
to be rendered is created in an invisible element, converted to a canvas using html2canvas (special
care is taken to ensure that all css is compatible with html2canvas’s limited specification). The canvas
is then converted to a png, and added to a pdf object created using jspdf. Page breaks are
programmatically created when images will not fit on the same page.
System Flexibility
The DSS input data is simply stored in an Excel spreadsheet. This makes it easy for maintainers to add
new practices or update existing ones in an interface that is familiar to them. Practice information can
be easily added and updated, and is stored in a simple JSON format defined in a JSON schema file.
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Due to the use of enumerations, the values used in the survey questions are the exact values used in
calculations. The values can be changed at any time and will not affect the rest of the system, making
it easy to make changes.
Angular provides a modular framework, meaningmore features can be added or changed at a later
stage.
Implementation process
Below is a point form summary of the steps in implementing the tool/survey.
-The DSS was provided in an Excel xlsx spreadsheet format with documentation in Word docx
format. Powerpoint pptx presentations were provided containing individual practice information.
Some of the GIS data was provided which would be used for production, namely AEZ data. Other
data was a subset of the full datasets, and not of the entirety of South Africa.
-Designs were created by hand, and multiple iterations considered.
-Research was done to find GIS data and APIs. After not finding sufficiently stable or open APIs,
the decision was made to host all data server-side.
-Interfaces and enumerations were created for data present in the excel dss. This allows for future
flexibility and easy changing of visual values without affecting underlying implementation.
-Application state representation was derived from the input values, represented as an interface
passed throughout the calculation process.
-Resource and typology calculations were implemented. These were implemented as services in a
strategy-like design pattern, allowing mock data through dependency injection and ease of
maintenance.
-Services for reading ASC files and “indexed” ASC files (detailed above under GIS) were
implemented. It then followed that GIS services for soil texture, AEZ, etc. were implemented.
-The DSS calculator was implemented as a service.
-DSS practice information was extracted manually from the Word document and put into JSON
format with images. A service was created to read this data and cache it.
-A service was created to convert html to canvas images, and then export to PDF to renderthe
practice information PDF export.
The draft interface of the decision support tool
ON the web platform (still to be decided once finalised, but presently available on the MDF website
at https://dss.mahlathini.org , is introduced as follows:
Introduction
The more extreme weather patterns with increased heat, decreased precipitation and more extreme
rainfall events; increase of natural hazards such as floods, droughts, hailstorms and high winds that
characterise climate change, place additional pressure on smallholder farming systems and has
already led to severe losses in crop and vegetable production and mortality in livestock.
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It is possible for individual smallholders to manage their agricultural and natural resources better and
in a manner that could substantially reduce their risk and vulnerability generally and more specifically
to climate change. Through a combination of best bet options in agro-ecology, water and soil
conservation, water harvesting, conservation agriculture and rangeland management a measurable
impact on livelihoods and increased productivity can be made.
Under the auspices of the Water ResearchCommission, our research team (Mahlathini Development
Foundation, Environmental Learning Resources Centre, Institute of NaturalResources, andRural
Integrated Engineering) has designed a process to assist farmers to decide which climate resilient
agriculture practices would be more suitable for them.
This process uses information on your location, the agroecological zone where you are farming,
including aspects such as rainfall, temperature, slope, soil type and organic matter, as well as specific
information on your farming practicesto selecta range of best bet options for you related to gardening
(vegetable production), field cropping, livestock and natural resource management.
In addition, some basic information on what thepractice is and how it can be implemented is provided.
We hope this will be useful to you in your adaptive management strategies for dealing with increased
climate variability.
The survey
This online survey below needs to be completed, by answering all the questions, so that your specific
recommendation of practices can be generated.
You will be able to save and print your results, which will include basic information on the practices
that have been selected by you. You also have the opportunity to prioritize some of these practices
for yourself, before finalising your recommendation.
Some of the fields in this survey will be pre-populated with information that is derived from scientific
databases. If you have your own information for these aspects, you can change the information in
these fields. If for example the database recommendations that your soil type is ‘clay”, but you know
from your own analysis that it is a “sandy-loam”, then you can write in your own information. The
same will go for aspects such as slope and organic matter.
Please try and fill in all the fields in this survey. The more information you provide, the more accurate
your recommended practices are likely to be.
We would also welcome any questions and suggestions that you may have.
Enjoy!
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Below is a step by step example of the survey; for a participant living close to Richmond in KZN
FARM INFORMATION
The blue boxes indicate choices made by the participant. Other choices were from drop down lists in
the survey.
FARMER INFORMATION
This is the next step in the survey
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RESULTS
Thi page of the survey summarises the practices selected, in a ranked order from highest to lowest. In
the example below the first two practices are shown.
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It is then possible toselect each practice for more information on that practice-as shown for
“Conservation Agriculture” above. And then to export this information as a pdf document.
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This survey will now be tested as extensively as possible in a range of practical situations. In addition
all one page descriptions with photographs are to be completed and the survey updated.
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4CAPACITY BUILDING AND PUBLICATIONS
Capacity building has been undertaken on three levels:
Community level learning
Organisational capacity building
Post graduate students
Community level and organisational capacity buildinghave continued within this reporting period and
have been reported upon in detail in the above sections.
Post graduate students
A further postgraduate student has withdrawn from this process:
oSamukelisiweMkhize has withdrawn her recent registration for a PhD in Social
Sciences (Policy and Development Studies). She has cited personal reasons for this
decision and has also left MDF’s internship position.
This has been a huge blow for our research process, as we now do not have enough time to canvas for
another student to replaceher. The work she was doing towards the research will now have to be
shouldered by a much smaller team. MDF will appoint another intern in the coming months to assist.
Progress with ongoing studies:
oPalesa Motaung: (M Soil Science- UP) has successfully conducted her fieldwork and is
in the process of finalising her results and starting her write-up.
oMazwi Dlamini: MPhil -UWC_PLAAS. He has conducted his first round of focus groups
and interviews, has written these up and is in the process of conceptualising his
second round of interviews. His progress has been slow, but he has another year to
complete this part-time study at UWC
Networking and presentations
VIA conference
The Virtual Irrigation Academy (VIA) held a conference for partners and interested stakeholderson
the 13th of June at the Future Africa centre at the University ofPretoria. Here MDF (Erna and
Samukelisiwe) presented some of the work around irrigation scheduling and water productivity that
has been done as a part of the smallholderclimate resilient agriculture being undertaken under the
auspices of the WRC. This event provided a great platform for outlining the use of the chameleon
water sensors in the farmer level experimentation process.
Below is an illustrative slide from the presentation as well as a slide outliningthe participatory
monitoring and evaluation process used with the smallholder farmers
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Maize Trust Board visit to Bergville
5 Members of the Maize Trust Board, journeyed from Pretoria to the cathedral Peak area in Bergville
for a smallholder conservation agriculture day hostedby the MDF team. The intention was to provide
information and practical examples of the innovation development approach used for adaptive and
participatory research into smallholder CA systems. Both this approach to research and the emphasis
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on livelihoods and adaptation were new to these important decision makers in the maize industry.
The day was designed also to showcase some of the work smallholders have undertaken.
Below are a few illustrative photographs of the farmer visits.
Figure 48: Above Clockwise from top left: Visiting Ntombakhe Zikode’s field in Eqeleni where a plot of winter cover
crops is seen in the fore ground; Her maize crop maturing; the farmers’ meeting with the board members and a view of a
portion of the farmer centre for the village.
QCTO preparation workshop for Agroecology curriculum
A pre-scoping workshop was held with a number of different agroecology stakeholders and a
representative from the QCTO (Quality Council for Trade and Occupations) at the University of
Johannesburg on the 4th of July 2019
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SAFL (Southern AfricaFood Lab) and SKA (Kruger, SwartAssocaited) workedin close collaboration with
the Hoedspruit Hub in designing the structure of the event. The main aims of the event were defined
as:
Introduce participating stakeholders to the structure and requirements of the QCTO.
Determine the willingness of the sector to continue with the development of the qualification.
Identify key development partners as required by the QCTO process.
Convene a preliminary discussion on the cost of the development of the qualification and
identifying possible funding sources to support the development.
To ensure that the sector was well represented, SAFL, SKA, and HH drew on their networks to develop
an initial invitation list which was then circulatedto all invitedstakeholders for review and
identification of additional stakeholders. In total, 62 sector stakeholders were invited, and 27
participants attended the event, of which MDF was one.
It was decided to continue with the curriculum development process and MDF is to be involved in the
joint action group in this regard.
Publications
A series of three articles has been submitted to the Water Wheel magazine for publication in upcoming
editions.:
-CCA community process,
-The impact of CRA on rural livelihoods and
-The smallholder farmer CRA decision support system