Soil, water and crop management alternatives in rainfed agriculture in the Sahel: an economic analysis
Most agriculture in the Sahel Region is carried out under rainfed conditions where low and uncertain soil moisture levels limit productivity. Improved soil, water and crop management practices are required to reverse the steady decline in per capita food production and sustain output over the long term. Several technological innovations and related farm management practices are evaluated in a case study of a typical farm in Mali. Through use of a soil-water balance model and a whole-farm economic model an optimal mix of these measures is identified. Compared to a base case where no modern inputs are utilized, the combination of animal traction (oxen team), low levels of NPK fertilizer, tied-ridges, traditional long-season food grain crops and early planting was most effective: food grain output was 35% higher than with the traditional base case; soil erosion was reduced by 72%; and even with residual future soil erosion damage capitalized into current income, net farm income was larger by a factor of almost 45.
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