An interesting two part series from Ryan Gunderson at the Next Billion, on his recent travel to Zambia.
The Rodale Institute has been operating side-by-side conventional and organic fields for 28 years now, comparing accepted best practices to innovative ones. They have developed a system which can combine the six to eight passes over the field required by conventional planting into a single pass. Here is a slideshow depicting the system in action and describing its development. Plans for making the key device to enable the process are available for free download here.By combining crop rotation with cover crops and no-till methods, they have managed to get yields which match conventional methods (better in drought years) with lower input costs. An example of a prosperous Pennsylvania family farm (70 hectares under cultivation) using these kinds of methods is the Cedar Meadow Farm, whose owner Steve Groff is kind enough to speak at conferences about his experiences and post to the web.
Good bit of video (18 min) from Journeyman Pictures on famine aid and rural development in Ethiopia.
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