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Soil mapping for accurate land health decisions

By Bertin Takoutsing, Ermias Betemariam and Ann Degrande

The data collection team at work in the field in Dar Sila, Chad, May 2016. ICRAF/Bertin Takoutsing & Ann Degrande

The data collection team at work in the field in Dar Sila, Chad, May 2016. ICRAF/Bertin Takoutsing & Ann Degrande

It is only 8 am in Goz Beida, the main town of the Dar Sila region in southeastern Chad, but temperatures are already above 30oC.

A team of eight, led by Bertin Takoutsing, soil scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre, is heading towards Doroti village. They are out to study soil and vegetation characteristics and take soil samples for laboratory analysis with the aim of assessing the diversity of soil and vegetation as well as overall land health in the area.

This activity is taking place as part of the BRACED project, delivered by the BRICS consortium of Concern Worldwide, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and Tufts University, which aims to build community resilience to the regular droughts and resulting food crises in these arid and semi-arid lands.

In such a drought-prone region, this soil analysis activity, carried out by Takoutsing’s team, is key to understanding the extent to which land, trees and crops will withstand any upcoming droughts, how badly harvests will be reduced, and what activities could be introduced to support farmers’ resilience to such disasters.

The study site is one of 160 plots in the Dar Sila area, all of which were chosen using satellite images and existing information about the area and through the Land Degradation Surveillance Framework – a systematic approach used to enable researchers to collect land health data that is representative of the diversity of soil and vegetation found across an entire project area such as Dar Sila.

Read more here

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