Mid-term report – Soil: Testing the impact of Organic amendments for the benefit of market gardening farmers (STOCK)

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The general objective of STOCK is to promote in South-East Asia the use of agroecology farming practices by market gardening farmers.
To make recommendations on efficient agro-ecological practices, we have to take into account the biophysical context (i.e. global warming) but more importantly the motivations of farmers already having agro-ecological practices. To address efficiently these different questions, our project is organized in different work packages (WP). And it is also organized in 2 phases: during the first phase we have surveyed the farmer’s practices, made an agronomical experiment at the faculty of agriculture and also tried to provide the basic knowledge and technologies to work efficiently during the second phase. The second phase will consist in a participative agronomical experiment in the farmer’s field and dissemination of our results to farmers and extension agent of the Vientiane region.
This report is presenting the results we obtained during the first phase.

Executive summary

WP1: Improving the quality of results provided by DALAM soil lab.
The objective of WP1 is to check the quality of the analyses provided by the soil analysis laboratory from DALAM so that they fit with the international standards for assessing the fertility of farmers field. Such quality is necessary to monitor changes in soil characteristics in this context of fast land use changes (in particular the development of market gardening and organic farming). A high-quality laboratory is also necessary to check the quality of organic amendments used by the farmers. To reach these objectives STOCK has provided (i) some small equipment to increase the precision and repeatability of analyses and (ii) different trainings to improve the skills of the staff when doing the analyses and organizing the management of the different task. Internal quality control was launched and some Ird staff is acting as a quality control manager to help the staff to detect and correct the mistakes.

WP2: Organic amendments characterization
Using Organic Amendments is necessary in agro-ecology because these amendments will contain the nutrients necessary to the plant but they will also provide the resources necessary to the soil biological activity which is (i) going to improve the soil characteristics at short-term and (ii) will be the main factor of soil resilience at the long term. Until now no information was available concerning the type and the quality of the OA used by the farmers for market gardening. We made a survey in Thaxang (50 km from Vientiane) a village that is producing only organic market gardening food. We observed that (i) chicken manure and ‘chiken+cow’ manure represented more 90 % of the OA ; (ii) despite this similarity, there is a high variability of the chemical characteristics but anyway (iii) most of the OA have a low fertility.

W3. Testing Organic Amendments in an Experimental station
To highlight the effect of different organic amendments we worked in controlled conditions at the experimental station of the Faculty of agriculture. We compared the impact of 4 Organic Amendments on the development and the biomass of lettuce (Lactuca sativa) and morning glory (Ipomoea aquatic); due to the short time of the experiment, it was not possible to monitor the impact in root development or in soil characteristics. The control consisted in a plot that did not receive organic amendments. The ex
The chicken manure had the highest impact on the plant biomass, probably due to its highest N availability.

WP4. Capacity building in Soil Ecology To increase farmers’ awareness about the importance of soil biological activity
we need to increase first the technical and scientific skills on soil ecology of Lao researchers, lecturers and student at the Faculty of Agriculture. A first seminar was organized and future collaboration was discussed. It is noteworthy to mention the high motivation of the students for all presentations related to soil ecology.
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This report presents the work that was done in the different work packages (WP). For each WP we presented the main objectives or the planned activities, the work we have realized, we explained why some objectives could not be reached and in some cases what we still have to do. Some complementary information is provided in different appendixes.

Please find the detailed report here

The decision of the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry on Organic Agriculture Standard in Laos

Mid-term presentation