"Biochar based fertilizer: challenges and opportunities for a widespread uptake of the technology by Ethiopian smallscale farmers for increased grain productivity"

Introduction and background of the call

Sustainability is innate to agriculture. However, growing population leads to high land use pressure and diminishing resources. The resulting resource competition tends to break the circular use of farm and crop residues, diverting them to seemingly better uses than for the indispensable replenishment of soil fertility. Hence soils are degrading - also because mineral fertilizer is no cure for nutrient depleted soils. On top, tropical climate is a strong force to accelerate soil erosion whereever it finds a leverage.

Across the world and disciplines, science has re-discovered, consented on, and refined agricultural methods that can sustainably recover soil fertility. Among these is the application of biochar-based fertilizer (BBF), which increases and stabilizes soil organic carbon (SOC), microbial activity, nutrient status, water retention capacity, and soil pH. BBF has been introduced by various national and international collaboration projects, and its use has seen an increasing trend in Ethiopia...

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+++ Deadline extension: 20. February 2023 – 12 p.m. +++

„Development of an evidence basis for the application of nutrient-loaded biochar on smallholder farms to enhance soil regeneration, increase productivity, strengthen food security, and mitigate climate change”

Introduction and background of the call

Agricultural cultivation in Ethiopia takes place primarily on highly fragmented land - with average farm sizes ranging from 0.2 to 2 hectares. Due to overuse, erratic rainfall and soil erosion, food security is one of the country's greatest challenges. Soil acidification occurs with eroded topsoil and depleted soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks, depleted nutrients, alternating drought stress and high rainfall. Many areas are experiencing productivity declines for main staple foods and cash crops. Rather few farmers use agricultural residues for soil improvement - mainly due to strong competition for the use of these residues as animal feed or fuel. However, several Woredas have already been advancing composting and vermicomposting efforts without or alongside other measures targeted to reduce soil erosion and improve soil fertility (intercropping, agro-forestry, etc.). Due to high and currently increasing prices of synthetic fertilizers in Ethiopia, the local production of organic fertilizers gains increasing attention.

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