The first round of the project’s field trials was conducted in 2010 by NOMAFSI in collaboration with Tay Bac University and local extension service staff. Teams of field researchers and farmers implemented a total of 19 experiments in the maize based cropping system: 6 in Lai Chau province, 9 in Son La province and 4 at NOMAFSI Tay Bac Research Centre.
The overall objectives of these trials were to: a) evaluate the effectiveness of mini terraces and mulch in land erosion prevention and the influence they have on maize growth and yield and; b) evaluate the suitability of a range of legume crops for intercropping with maize.
All the experiments were conducted on-farm in a participatory manner with the farmers’ involvement in their planning, establishment, maintenance and evaluation. However, the implementation of the experiments cannot be considered fully participatory as farmers did not have influence in agronomical decisions relating to sowing time or fertilizer use, and they were not adequately involved in data collection and assessment. Nevertheless, participatory evaluation sessions of the trials conducted after the harvest provided opportunities for farmers to have a significant contribution in interpretation and analysis of the experimental results, and also in planning of the 2011 experiments.
The most important findings of the experiments conducted in 2010 are:
– The use of mulch increased maize yield in both cases, on mini-terraces or without mini-terraces, and this can be mainly attributed to the higher moisture of mulched soil. The average increase of yield over the 7 experiments was 0.7 t/ha when mulch was used without mini-terraces and 0.9 t/ha when mulch was used on mini-terraces.
– The legumes (including lack bean, rice bean, soy bean and peanut) intercropped with maize although due to the pest and disease problems did not have significant yield themselves, had a positive impact on maize growth and yield. The average increase of yield of maize over the 6 experiments was 0.8 t/ha.
Based on the results from the 2010 experiments, the project team in intensive consultation with farmers developed the research agenda for 2011. Aiming at better and more persuasive results, they reduced the number of experiments while increased the area and scale of each experiment. Also, more rigorous scientific design of experiments and more precise measurements of soil erosion have been adopted. Project staff have been much better trained to facilitate farmer engagement, and they will put much more efforts to improve farmer participation.
This year, in total, 9 experiments have been set up, including 2 at NOMAFSI Tay Bac Research Centre, 2 in Tam Duong district of Lai Chau province, and 2 in Mai Son and 3 in Moc Chau districts of Son La province. In all these experiments mulch (either plant residues or live mulch-intercrops) is used as the main land conservation measure. In addition to mulch, in 2 experiments with land erosion measurement stations, mini-terraces and no-tillage are also being trialed.
At the present all the experiments have been well established. With lessons learnt from the 2010 experiments and with great efforts of the project’s team we can expect not only good scientific results but also more active participation of farmers and local cadres. This will have a great contribution to the project’s planned Roll-Out in 2012 – 2013.
Intercropping with peanut
Beside as an effective much, intercroped peanut could have some yield
Much on miniterrace vs. the control (burning and no miniterrace)
Muching with plant residues