Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page

Annex 4. Matrix of case studies on soil biodiversity and ecosystem management

Case studies on soil biodiversity and ecosystem management

Country, region and land use

Case study/actors

Problem to be solved (objective)



Lessons learned and comments

Assessment, monitoring

Adaptive management

Capacity building

1. Burkina Faso
Sahel Region
Semi-arid (400-700 mm rainfall)

Integrated management of termites and organic mulch
Academic researchers and their institutions

Restore soils in order to extend arable lands and increase productivity. (To manage termites and local organic matter in order to rehabilitate crusted soils).

Monitoring is robust and easy to use and interpret by farmers.

Technology innovation.
Mulch applied to soils, thus stimulating termites to improve soil structure and soil processes.

Technique needs to be tested by farmers.
With experience guidelines can be developed and methods included in farmer training materials

Severely crusted soils were restored.
Soil compaction was reduced, infiltration and drainage were increased.
Decomposition and mineralization enhanced by termite activity.
Cowpea yields were 100 times those in soils without termites.

Soil structure degradation results from eradicating native soil organisms (termites).
Applying surface organic matter feeds termites and promotes their regenerative activities.
Technological innovation to use macrofauna to restore degraded soils.

2. Egypt
Nile Valley
Arid (< 255 mm rainfall)

Biodynamic agriculture for reclamation and cotton production
Organic matter management Farmers and agricultural engineers

Reclaiming desert land for agriculture due to lack of fertile and productive soil, with a market-focused process to enhance value of products.

Organic matter management and compost preparation using agricultural waste and animal manure.

Training on organic farming and compost preparation from small scale to large industrial systems.

2 200 ha of biodynamically certified desert margins in the Nile Valley. The organic cotton was intercropped successfully with basil and lemon grass.

Importance of micro-organisms for developing soil fertility. Organic farming in desert margins is considered “black gold”, i.e. high-value market focus is important.

3. Brazil
Paraná Crop (Phaseolus vulgaris)
Subhumid (1 400-2 500 mm, extreme 1 000 mm rainfall)

Symbiotic N fixation in the common bean crop
Academic researchers and their institutions

Improve low bean crop yields on N-poor tropical soils through N-fixing soil bacteria. (Effect of rhizobia on bean cultivars/biodiversity of Rhizobium).

Select efficient rhizobia strains from local bean production sites.

Use of Phaseolus. vulgaris cultivars from the Meso-American and Andean pools as trap hosts

Needs further development.

Common beans inoculated with competitively superior, native rhizobia produced high yields in N-poor tropical soils.

Superior strains of rhizobia can be selected from the diversity of native soil bacteria with no need for genetic modifications.
Not clear how farmers were involved in the process.

4. Brazil
Cereals (sorghum, cotton, maize and soybean)
Subhumid (1 400-2 500 mm rainfall)

No-tillage (NT) agriculture benefits soil macrofauna
Private farm owners with academic researchers and their institutions

Restore and maintain soil fertility on severely eroded agricultural lands.
(To provide the best environment for macrofauna and their soil fertility functions).

Compare NT vs. conventional tillage (CT) practices for conserving soil macrofauna.
Understanding how crop residues influence bio-physico-chemical properties of soils.

NT and crop rotation systems are keys to integrated soil fertility management.

Some attempts were made to raise awareness.
Techniques and training materials need further development.

Millions of hectares of NT for cereal production with cover crops.
NT systems provided better environmental conditions for macrofauna than CT systems
Soil macrofauna diversity higher in NT than in CT systems.

NT can help re-establish a diversified soil biological activity after CT disturbances
NT systems are ecologically and stress resistant.
A collaborative process fosters adoption by smallholder farmers (farm sizes up to 40 ha)

5. Brazil
Peri-urban locations

Use of vermicompost to reduce Al toxicity

Low fertile soils for vegetable production. (Reduction of Al toxicity).

Earthworm inoculation and chicken manure to process sawdust waste.

Vegetable production in peri-urban areas.

Despite excellent results, adoption of the technology failed.

Al toxicity was reduced significantly (exch. Al from 85 to 45 percent), and CEC improved.

Adoption of technology failed due to inadequate extension and communication strategies.

6. Cuba
Crops (coffee, rice, vegetables, etc.)
Across the island Subtropical (900-1400 mm rainfall)

Biofertilizers (arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, AMF and Rhizobium bacteria) for mixed agriculture
Farmers, national institutions, universities.

Productivity and yield decline in agricultural soils, plus economic constraints and lack of fertilizers.
(Inoculation of AMF varieties in different crops and soils)

Application of AMF in on-farm trials with different soil types to determine effectiveness of infection.

Use of AMF inoculants in different crops and soils to combat yield decline.

Practical research conducted with farmers. Capacity enhanced through agro-ecological fairs, education and extension.

Successful adoption of AMF inoculants by farmers (no data).

Improved organic matter management is central to the functioning of the technology.

7. India
Tamil Nadu
High-input tea plantations
Subhumid (900-1 000 mm rainfall)

Managing earthworms and organic matter can improve crop and soil productivity
Agro-industry representatives, farm managers and academic researchers and their institutions.

Restoring soil fertility and increasing yields in tea plantations Search for a practical, economic and conservation-minded solution to soil degradation.
(Rehabilitate plantation lands degraded by decades of intensive tea cultivation).

Tea prunings and other organic materials are trenched with earthworms.

Use of soil fauna and local organic matter to increase tea production.

Dissemination of technology to other areas and countries for large-scale implementation.

Use of soil fauna and local organic matter improved soil organic matter and structure; hence tea production was increased and maintained. Bio-organic fertilization (FBO) technique ensures positive response of up to 50% enhancement in production. A patent has been deposited.

Renewal of soil fertility in sites of intensive agriculture is possible. FBO needs the regular attention of trained personnel. Interdisciplinarity led to the outstanding results observed. Local assimilation of this technology is low due to deep-rooted tradition of conventional technologies. More effective promotion and adoption are needed.

8. Australia
Sugar-cane crops.
Subhumid (1 150 mm rainfall)

Management practices to improve soil health and reduce effects of detrimental soil biota associated with yield decline of sugar cane
Sugar-cane growers, representatives of industry and sugar research bodies.

Soil compaction and yield decline under intensive tillage of sugar cane.
(Achieve a sustainable and more productive system: reduce negative effects on soil biota, restore soil fertility and structure).

Monitoring of better and more sustainable practices for improvement of soil fertility and structure.

Adapt practices to improve crop growth and soil health.
Technical impact assessment of management options on soil ecosystem functions and ways to optimize benefits and reduce harmful effects.

Demonstration trials are tools to facilitate this process.

Increased soil organic matter and CEC led to higher activity of beneficial organisms and reduction of detrimental effects.
Uptake and monitoring of better practices promoted by sugar-cane industry.

Unsustainable practices in agro-industry can be transformed into sustainable and productive systems.
Involvement of all relevant sectors of society and scientific disciplines achieves impact.

9. Bhutan

Methods for assessment of soil health and quality
Farmers, researchers and technicians

Lack of tools for measuring soil health that can be adopted and used by farmers.
(To raise farmer awareness about soil life by working together).

The overall soil biological activity is measured through soil respiration (O2 uptake and CO2 production).

A tool for management decisions.

An educational tool that needs further development.

A tool for management decisions and for raising awareness of farmers about the living nature of soil.

Usefulness of a simple and easy-to-use method for farmers. Simple methods can be used for decision management.

10. Ecuador

Capacity building tools and methods used to improve knowledge and skills of farming communities in biological management of soil fertility
CAMAREN, a consortium for NRM, with farmers.

Lack of consideration of soil biological issues in agricultural education.
Lack of policy on promoting integrated agricultural approaches.
(To establish a step-by-step process with farmers).

Field work for identification of problems in farming systems.

Group work interaction to achieve a multiscale impact.

Training of trainers on soil ecology.
There is a need to enhance training facilities on biological management of soil fertility.

Important contribution to development of sustainable agricultural practices in several regions of Ecuador.

A multiscale impact can be achieved through participation of all farmers.
A farmer-centred approach has been shown to contribute to the development of sustainable agricultural practices.

11. E Uganda, NW Tanzania: banana, maize beans, ground nuts (1 500-1 800 mm rainfall)
Zimbabwe: Sorghum cowpea etc. (400-600 mm rainfall)

Use of FFSs for SPI
Farmers, NARs, extensionists, University, FAO and TSBF-CIAT.

SPI with a focus on soil biological management.
(Increase the adoption of integrated soil management practices).

Identification of best practices for each site and farming system.
Training of trainers is a priority when training materials are available.

Conservation agriculture approaches, no-till, organic matter and soil biological management for successful adoption by farmers.

Training of trainers, guidelines and manuals on SPI are being developed.

Curriculum development and training materials are being developed.
An upcoming workshop will outline the progress made and success of adoption.

A farmer-driven approach based on participatory research is expected to lead to wider adoption.

12. Colombia
Crops and pastures Humid (2 230 mm rainfall)

Soil macrofauna communities in a range of land use systems of the Colombian Llanos Students, researchers, institutions, NARs

Understanding the role of earthworms in different soil processes; clarification of their beneficial activities. Biology and ecology of earthworm species.

Assessment and monitoring of soil macrofauna communities along gradient of agricultural intensification (inventory of organisms and their functions across a range of land uses). Typology of biogenic structures - responsible species and physico-chemical properties.

Adaptive management of soil-crop system and practices. Linkages between specific soil organisms management and effects on soil processes.

Further development of tools for farmers’ use and interpretation is needed.

A CIAT-edited book in English and Spanish (forthcoming) compiling the most significant achievements. Inventory of soil macrofauna, including abundance, diversity and their specific ecologies.
Details on the effects of earthworms on physical, chemical and biological properties of savannah soils are provided.

Knowledge of biology and ecology of earthworms is a key to further address the impact of soil macrofauna on ecosystem functioning.

13. Philippines
Tropical maritime (up to 2 800 mm rainfall)

Adaptive management and technology innovation Universities, NARs, Institutions, DGIS net and FAO IPM facility.

Lack of research on the technology innovation process for integrated crop-soil management. Ineffective information sharing on soil-crop management practices between private and public sectors.

A biodiversity research programme conducted along a landscape gradient (from uplands to the coast)

Interactions among partners with complementary roles lead to agro-ecological innovation and impact.

Rural people rely on variety and variability and are involved actively in the management process.
Sharing information among all participants at different levels.

No results yet.

Agro-ecological innovations emerged from interactions among partners with complementary roles.

Change is achieved, driven by non-satisfied needs of farmers.

14. Tropical worldwide
(Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Côte d’Ivoire & India).
From natural ecosystems to agricultural lands.

Participatory assessment of macrofauna functional groups for rehabilitation and improved productivity of pasture, cropland and horticulture
Students, farmers, researchers, NARs, CGIAR centres.

Lack of a global assessment of soil macrofauna communities in the tropical region (To conduct an in-depth study on the composition of soil macrofauna communities in different agro-ecosystems and their functions)

Tools and standard methods to assess and quantify soil macrofauna groups.
Basic biology and ecology of earthworms specifically addressed.

Effect of earthworms on plant growth and physico-chemical properties of soils.

Perception, beliefs and use of earthworms in different sites of tropical farming systems.
A guideline for farmers and technicians is intended to be available soon (IRD-FAO).

A macrofauna database with more than 1 000 sites sampled.
Articles in peer-reviewed journals, a CABI book and dissemination of results.
Development of in-soil technologies based on the stimulation of earthworm activities.

Participatory approach to collect and identify soil macrofauna groups.
Soil macrofauna is a sensitive indicator of soil quality.

15. Tropical intercountry
(Mexico, Brazil, Côte d’Ivoire, Uganda, Kenya, India & Indonesia).
From tropical forests to agricultural lands.

The GEF-funded project on the conservation and sustainable management of below-ground biodiversity (2002-07) Students, farmers, researchers, NARs, CGIAR centres.

Identify critical thresholds for loss of functions in soil.

Inventory of organisms and their functions across a range of land uses.
Relationship between above- and below-ground biodiversity.
Development and use of indicators and assessment tools.

Valuation of ecosystem services provided by soil biota (from bacteria to macrofauna).

Capacity building and information sharing (FAO).
Training of trainers in standard methods of looking and assessing soil biota for use in FFS-SPI.

A set of globally accepted standard methods for evaluation of BGBD.

Valuable data on types of management practices and soil biota composition.

16. South Africa

Selection of legumes that produce beneficial plant flavonoids for various functions.

Weed suppression and control of pathogens and pests.
(Promote nodulation and enhance nutrient cycling).

Selection of legumes

IPM strategies developed to overcome declining productivity.

Flavonoids promote microbial growth and induce nod genes in root nodule bacteria.
These non-N-fixing benefits of nodulated legumes are greater in cowpea than in soybean.

Antibiotics provided by root exudates can control insect pests and suppress weeds such as Striga.
Unavailable oligo-elements in alkaline soils are mobilized.

17. Asia

IPM and biomass management for armyworm control and enhanced productivity

Control of armyworm
(Myrthimna separata)

Seeding the soil with natural allies including beneficial micro-organisms.

IPM strategies developed to enhance plant productivity

Increasing soluble N and free protein amino acids in plant tissues lead to pest damage by armyworm and other pests.
Balanced plant nutrition is crucial.

18. Kenya
Common bean
(Phaseolus vulgaris)

Plant parasitic nematodes associated with common bean: an integrated management approach in Kenya

To avoid yield losses up to 60% due to nematode infection.
(Control of root-knot nematode on beans through organic amendments and Bacillus inoculation).

Effectiveness of organic amendments for nematode suppression

Integrated management approach.

Chicken manure was the most effective amendment for nematode suppression.

The potential of organic amendments to suppress root-knot nematodes and reduce yield losses in bean production.
Bacillus strains reduced egg hatching and modified root exudates, which affects host-finding processes.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page