A recent BBC online article refers to a study reported in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability which shows that planting trees which improve soil quality can help boost crop yields for African farmers. In addition, fertiliser tree systems (FTS) also help boost food security and play a role in "climate proofing" the region's arable land.
The BBC quotes researchers from the World Agroforestry Centre who say poor soil fertility is one of the main obstacles to improving food production in Africa. "In Africa, it is generally agreed that poor soil management – along with poor water management – is most greatly affecting yields," explained co-author Frank Place, head of the centre's impact assessment team.
Although it has been known for centuries that certain plants, such as legumes, "fix" nitrogen in the soil and boost food crop yields, Dr Place said that the centre's researchers had been looking to develop a more active management approach such as fertiliser tree systems (FTS).
In some regions it is possible to rest land and leave it to lie fallow between crops. In others, where population density and food demand is higher, other means to boosts soil fertility are necessary which don’t limit crop production, such as intercropping annual crops with leguminous trees.
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