Sustainability index was calculated to assess soil quality under the influence of different fertilizer management practices. It is based on the area of the triangle in which nutrient index, microbial index and crop index of soil represented the three vertices of a triangle. Nutrient index reflected the nutrient status of soil and was calculated from the measurements of various soil chemical parameters. Microbial index was calculated by determining various soil microbial and biochemical activities and crop index by measuring of crop yield parameters. Eighteen soil indicators were determined to assess nutrient index, microbial index and crop index in order to compare the effect of different sources of nutrients such as green manure, farmyard manure and chemical fertilizer in a rice/corn– wheat rotation. The indices were applied to assess the sustainability of five field experiments with respect to the different fertilizer treatments. The long-term application of organic manures in rice/corn–wheat cropping system increased the index value because it increased the nutrient index, microbial index and crop index of soils. The use of only chemical fertilizers in the rice–wheat cropping system resulted in poor soil microbial index and crop index. In corn–wheat system, additional application of FYM at 10 t ha−1 before sowing corn made the system more sustainable than application of 100%NPK; the sustainability index values were 2.43 (the highest for this system) and 0.93, respectively.
Crop production systems that require chemical fertilizers, pesticides, machinery for
tillage, and irrigation water are expensive. In countries such as India, they have started
to undermine the water security of future generations, contributing to soil and water
pollution particularly when synthetic pesticides are not used properly. It is true that
agriculture as practiced 100 years ago without modern inputs had lower productivity
than present systems of production. However, many premodern practices, such as the
use of organic manures to enhance soil fertility and of herbal extracts to protect crops,
can be made more efficient by the scientific knowledge that has been gained over
the past century, making crop production more sustainable while still achieving high
An innovative FAO's Project is promoting sustainable insects farming and harvesting for better food security and improved nutrition in LAO PDR. A recent FAO survey found out that over 95% of the population already consumes insects in a way or another. The insects high vitamin and protein content can help improving the country food and nutrition situation.
Progress H. Nyanga, Fred H. Johnsen, Thomson H. Kalinda
Conservation Agriculture (CA) is increasingly taking a central stage in agricultural policies and rural development among developing countries like Zambia. The challenge of gender gaps in agriculture has persisted despite efforts of gender mainstreaming. This paper assesses gender based impacts of conservation agriculture (CA) basins among smallholder farmers under the Conservation Agriculture Programme (CAP) in Zambia. Qualitative and quantitative approaches were used to collect data. Quantitative data was analysed mainly by descriptive statistics and qualitative data by thematic and content analysis. Results indicated that women and children experienced reduction in labour with respect to clearing of fields before tillage and during weeding where herbicides were used correctly. Improvement in household food security was also reported. Digging of CA basins was labour intensive and the chaka hoe was heavy for women. Labour requirement for women and children was more than for men during hand weeding. Herbicides have increased labour requirements for men because they are predominantly involved in spraying. Women needed to reduce their labour during weeding but feared that the use of herbicides would increase food insecurity during hunger peak period. This was because the use of herbicides is inconsistent with the practice of mixed cropping and selection of valuable wild vegetables that were important for food security. Results suggest that usage of herbicide such as atrazine could have health concerns that may affect women more than men. Use of herbicides raises questions as to what extent CA is environmentally sustainable. Interventions in CA need to be both gender sensitive and minimise tradeoffs between health concerns, socio-economic benefits and environmental sustainability.