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Organic food systems meeting the needs of Southern Africa.

Book cover for Organic food systems meeting the needs of Southern Africa.

Description

This book reports on long-term comparative organic farming systems' research trials carried out over the last 5 years in the Southern Cape of South Africa, as well as research into the successes and failures of the organic sector and the technical tools required for sustainable development in South Africa, Zambia, Uganda and Tanzania. It includes 24 chapters organized into 4 parts. Part 1 (Chapter...

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Chapter 21 (Page no: 284)

Initial assessment of selected biological soil health indicators in organic versus conventional cropping systems in field trials in South Africa.

Agricultural sustainability is built on the premise of promoting soil health. Agricultural practices such as tillage, crop rotation, cover crops and fertilization have been credited with shifts in the soil food web which affects many aspects of soil health. The aim of the current study was to investigate the effects of conventional versus organic cultivation systems on selected biological soil health indicators within the existing long-term comparative farming systems field trial at the George Campus of the Nelson Mandela University in South Africa's Western Cape Province. Our results show that microbial diversity, evenness and enzyme activity was highest in the organic monocrop cabbage treatment. Richness of nematode predators was a function of the abundance of nematode prey that could be improved by organic inputs. The highest nematode diversity was correlated with organic treatments which also indicated the highest fertility (enrichment index). Organic treatments also had the better soil food web structure (structure index) while for the majority of treatments, the decomposition channel was fungal (high channel index). The control and conventional cabbage treatments had more nematodes associated with stressful conditions, possibly because of toxicity from chemicals used in these cropping systems. Nematode populations (functional guilds) were more sensitive to cropping systems than microbial populations (functional diversity) although both biological indicators resulted in similar conclusions. In terms of biological diversity, rotation treatments had an intermediate effect while monocrop treatments performed better. We conclude that the use of organic amendments and cover crops relative to conventional systems has the potential to improve soil quality in the long term, through improved biodiversity and higher organic matter content.

Other chapters from this book

Chapter: 1 (Page no: 3) The developing organic sector in Southern and Eastern Africa: what have we learned about sustainable development? Author(s): Auerbach, R.
Chapter: 2 (Page no: 21) An overview of global organic and regenerative agriculture movements. Author(s): Leu, A.
Chapter: 3 (Page no: 32) Organic research contributes to sector development and good organic policy: the Danish, Swiss, American and African case studies. Author(s): Auerbach, R.
Chapter: 4 (Page no: 42) The Organic Academy of IFOAM-Organics International: training multipliers in the developing world. Author(s): Hauptfleisch, K.
Chapter: 5 (Page no: 51) Understanding a food systems approach. Author(s): Strassner, C. Kahl, J.
Chapter: 6 (Page no: 60) BERAS - a global network of food systems with examples from Sweden, Haiti, Tanzania and India. Author(s): Hertwig, J.
Chapter: 7 (Page no: 81) The likely impact of the 2015-2018 drought in South Africa: lessons from the 2008 food price crisis and future implications. Author(s): Auerbach, R. Piek, H. Battersby, J. Devereux, S. Olivier, N.
Chapter: 8 (Page no: 100) The use of participatory rural appraisal (PRA) to support organic food systems in Africa. Author(s): Auerbach, R.
Chapter: 9 (Page no: 113) Strengthening participation in the organic value chain for small-scale farmers in Southern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Author(s): Troosters, W. Auerbach, R. Haysom, G.
Chapter: 10 (Page no: 130) Participatory Guarantee Systems as an organic market entry point for small-scale farmers in South Africa. Author(s): Mashele, N. J. Auerbach, R.
Chapter: 11 (Page no: 139) Development of an inclusive value chain for peri-urban micro-farmers. Author(s): Purkis, M.
Chapter: 12 (Page no: 151) Supporting vulnerable communities in the Eastern Cape: assessing the rainfall evidence. Author(s): Auerbach, R.
Chapter: 13 (Page no: 176) Water efficiency, energy efficiency and suburban vegetable production. Author(s): Auerbach, R. Caude, A.
Chapter: 14 (Page no: 185) Experiential training of farmers and university diploma students in KwaZulu-Natal and the Southern Cape. Author(s): Auerbach, R.
Chapter: 15 (Page no: 199) The National Organic Agriculture Movement of Uganda. Author(s): Nalunga, J. Auerbach, R. Ssekyewa, C.
Chapter: 16 (Page no: 209) Factors contributing to adoption or disadoption of organic agriculture in Zambia. Author(s): Munthali, R. Auerbach, R. Mataa, M.
Chapter: 17 (Page no: 217) The rapid incineration field test as an accurate, cost-effective and practical tool for estimating soil carbon in Africa. Author(s): Ackhurst, A. Auerbach, R. Louw, J.
Chapter: 18 (Page no: 233) The Nelson Mandela long-term comparative organic farming systems research trials: baseline study and trial design. Author(s): Auerbach, R. Mashele, N. J. Eckert, C.
Chapter: 19 (Page no: 250) Comparative water use efficiency and water retention in the Mandela trials. Author(s): Eckert, C. Auerbach, R. Lorentz, S.
Chapter: 20 (Page no: 264) Biological and chemical soil fumigation and pest and disease management comparisons in the Western Cape. Author(s): Niekerk, A. van Auerbach, R. Lamprecht, S.
Chapter: 22 (Page no: 303) Soil fertility changes and crop yields from the first 4 years of the Mandela trials. Author(s): Swanepoel, M. Auerbach, R. Mashele, N. J.
Chapter: 23 (Page no: 327) Urban agriculture: challenges and opportunities in urban water management and planning. Author(s): Wesselow, M. Kifunda, C. Auerbach, R. Siebenhüner, B.
Chapter: 24 (Page no: 337) A future strategy for organic development in Southern Africa. Author(s): Auerbach, R. Purkis, M.