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No soil left behind: How a cost-effective technology can enrich poor fields

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No soil left behind: How a cost-effective technology can enrich poor fields

Photo caption: Farmers install SWRT membranes in Marange area of Zimbabwe as part of the technology’s first trial in Africa in September 2019. Credit: N. Chirinda / CIAT

The technology consists of long strips of polyethylene membranes installed in a U-shape below and near the root zones of crops. Known as subsurface water retention technology (SWRT), […]

Many farmers across sub-Saharan Africa try to coax crops out of sandy soils that are not ideal for holding water and nutrients. Their harvests are predictably poor. A traditional approach would have them apply more fertilizers and use irrigation, but both of these options require access to resources and infrastructure that many of them do not have. A relatively new technology modeled for eight African countries, and currently being tested in Zimbabwe, shows potential for substantially improving harvests through increased water retention and accumulation of organic material to make soils more fertile. The technology consists of long strips of polyethylene membranes installed […]

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