UCA Helps Farmers Put New Life in Tired Soil
Experts from the Mountain Societies Research Institute (MSRI) of the University of Central Asia (UCA)’s Graduate School of Development conducted a field training on soil assessment for farmers in three villages in the Naryn region. The training was aimed at supporting local farmers in tackling the increasing problem of depletion and loss of soil fertility in the Naryn region, which affects the yield and has a negative impact on farmers’ revenues. Experts noted that the trend is accelerating, mainly due to non-compliance with crop rotation and improper use of fertilizers.
Farmers were taught how to use a portable field laboratory to collect and analyse soil samples.
“As a rule, local land users sow the fields and use fertilizers blindly, without taking into account the health of the soil in the cultivated area,” said Ermek Baybagyshov, MSRI project consultant and trainer. “Our training enables farmers to gain and apply new practical skills. They learn how to assess the soil fertility level, determine its moisture content, density, quality and suitability for a given crop.”
The trainees were also briefed about another effective tool to save soil from soil depletion - inclusion of perennial grass into crop rotation. They have a unique ability to enrich the soil, accumulating atmospheric nitrogen in it. In addition, it is also a low-cost method, which is important for the economy of small-scale farms. Crop diversification can be a potential strategy to support productivity when soils are less fertile, which is the case for Naryn region.
A portable field laboratory was used for the practical part of the training, helping farmers collect soil samples and carry out basic agrochemical analyses. Following this training, local farmers will be able to bring samples for agrochemical analysis to the Naryn State University’s soil laboratory.
The field training was organised by the University of Central Asia within the framework of the “Paleoclimate, environmental change and social interaction in Central Asia” (PALESCA) project, implemented with the support of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).