Based on a study’s finding led by the University of Sussex and the United Kingdom, including anthropologists and soil scientists from Aarhus Universities, Cornell, Accra and the Institute of Development Studies. It has been established that a 700-year-old soil enrichment technique by farmers living in Liberia and Ghana could boost soil fertility ten folds and mitigate climate change effect such as food insecurity.
This 700-year-old soil enrichment technique entails, converting the nutrient-poor rainforest soil into a fertile farmland by adding charcoal and kitchen waste to the land. Over time, the soil became carbon-rich and with an enduring fertility, something the researchers have since taken to referring to as ‘African Dark Earths’.
The researchers studied some 150 sites spread out across northwest Liberia and 27 sites in Ghana. They found the soils to contain between 200-300 percent more organic carbon than the rest of the soils, which the farmers had not enriched with charcoal and kitchen waste. The also discovered that the enriched soils were capable of sustaining a more intensive type of farming than the rest.
The study entitled ‘Indigenous African soil enrichment as a climate-smart sustainable agriculture alternative’ was financed by the Economic and Social Research Council and published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Environment.
“Mimicking this ancient method has the potential to transform the lives of thousands of people living in some of the most poverty and hunger-stricken regions in Africa,” said Prof. James Fairhead from the University of Sussex. He is also the one that initiated this study.
“More work needs to be done, but this simple, effective farming practice could be an answer to major global challenges such as developing ‘climate smart’ agricultural systems which can feed growing populations and adapt to climate change.”