Thursday, April 14, 2011

Update from the Field: Soil Conservation in the Dominican Republic

Farmer to Farmer volunteer, Ira "Buck" Richards, traveled to the Dominican Republic in March to support producers with soil conservation techniques. Mr. Richards worked with producers and gave them technical assistance on how to conserve soils while producing avocados on hillsides that are prone to erosion.

 Mr. Richards showing producers how to use soil conservation and land surveying equipment.

Mr. Richards giving a practical demonstration.
A group of 30 producers in the community of La China-los Guanos in San Jose de Ocoa were trained by the volunteer on how to use soil conservation equipment. Mr. Richards recommended the use of mucuna and canavalia as a way to recuperate eroding soils on the hillsides. Also, Mr. Richards recommended that the live and dead barriers should be built following the slope of the area. The producers acknowledged that this was useful training and that if they want to prevent erosion they have to take in consideration the slopes of the land and utilize contour barriers. Contour barriers are contour strips which intercept down slope flowing water and soil particles. The barriers slow down the water movement and reduce erosion. They also trap many of the suspended soil particles, keeping them from being washed out of the field. A long term advantage of barriers is that soil tends to build up behind them, creating a terrace effect and is more beneficial for planting trees and crops. Barriers can be classified as live (strips of living plants), dead (rocks, crop residues), or mixed (a combination of the previous two). Erosion has been a challenge for producers and a real threat to the environment so these soil conservation techniques are much appreciated.

Field day to work with Mr. Richards, a Farmer to Farmer volunteer and specialist in soils.

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