Promoting the fertilizer bush in agroforestry on-farm research: A participatory approach

TitlePromoting the fertilizer bush in agroforestry on-farm research: A participatory approach
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication1990
AuthorsCashman, K
Secondary TitlePaper presented at American Society of Agronomy Conference, October 21-26, 1990, San Antonio, Texas
Date PublishedOctober 1990
Conference LocationSan Antonio, TX
Keywordsagroforestry; alley farming

Alley farming is an ecologically stabilizing process designed for tropical farmers to increase and sustain crop production. Rows of nutrient-rich trees form 5 meter alleys. If farmers regularly use prunings from these trees as mulch for crops grown in the alleys, the trees function as "fertilizer bushes." Farmers can defer fallow on fragile soils, extend and diversify cropping, and increase yields. As an innovation bundle, alley cropping supplies useful by-products: animal fodder, crop staking material, firewood, and mulch for erosion control and moisture retention. Yet on-farm research demonstrates that if the technical aspects of alley cropping outpace essential human components, the practice becomes dysfunctional, and the benefits farmers derive are negligible. This paper examines what socio-cultural/economic and organizational components can make alley cropping an appealing and sustainable practice by tropical farmers. A framework was developed and tested in collaboration with 270 rural Nigerians to describe and measure the process where farmers become aware of alley cropping, adopt and modify or reject it, integrate and use the practice in their farming system and disseminate it to others, or discontinue the practice.

Interviews with 50 female and 97 male adopters were tape-recorded during fieldwork in 1988. Each alley farm of this 147 sample was visited. Nonadopters (123) were canvased to determine their understanding of, and feelings towards, alley farming. The projects' field personnel and scientists were also interviewed to further the development of the framework. (author)

Number of pages

23 pp.

Short TitlePromoting the fertilizer bush in agroforestry on-farm research