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University of Zululand (2005)

Improving Agricultural Practices in Mabibi as a means of limiting ecological impacts.

Nyathikazi, Nqobile P. K.

Titre : Improving Agricultural Practices in Mabibi as a means of limiting ecological impacts.

Auteur : Nyathikazi, Nqobile P. K

Université de soutenance : University of Zululand

Grade : Master of Science (MS) 2005

Résumé partiel
This thesis considers the role of agriculture in a developing rural area adjacent to a nature reserve in northeastern South Africa. The study is framed within the socio- economic conditions of the people of Mabibi, South Africa, a village of 1000 Zulu and Tonga people, most of whom are engaged in subsistence agriculture in nutrient- poor soils and community based use of natural resources. The study actively engages with the community through fieldwork consisting of incremental steps to improve farming practice, with the aim of spatially limiting land disturbance in the wetlands, hence leaving areas for wildlife conservation. - A number of questions are addressed : will improved agricultural practice limit ecological impacts ? What will be the main adaptation required to successfully implementing organic farming ? Can locally-sourced funding take farming practice to another level ? This thesis examines the cultural protocols used in villages faced with environmental assets conflicting with subsistence livelihoods. Constraints faced by developing rural communities may be alleviated through agricultural improvements in the short term and an economic diversification in the long term. A 200m2 on-farm experimental plot was implemented at Mabibi. In the first planting, Peanuts (arachis hypogaea) and onion (alliutn cepa) were sown in November 2003 using a block replicates system. Plots were divided into two and again sub-divided into eight. Organic compost was imported from the University of Zululand and incorporated at a rate of 5 kg / 2m3 of soil, applied in eight 2 x 2 m blocks. In the other 8 blocks pre-existent soil conditions were maintained (control). Since moving crops from wet to dry lands was the aim, it was difficult to expect positive results without an expensive irrigation system. Mabibi’s area, characterized by sub- tropical climate, is often exposed to dry spells. Annual mean precipitation can be high (1000 mm/year), but usually is concentrated in short periods, which leaves long dry and high temperature spells. Soil temperature in the open field at mid-day were measured and found to be up to 48°C ! However with a mulch layer on the surface, this was reduced to 35°C. Given the poor soil and dry weather, vegetables such as onions would have difficulty growing without water stress. Drought and little compost caused the onions to fail.

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