Soil property and fertility improvement through composting using Trichoderma, Philippines

Summary

Composting improves the physical soil condition and can thereby reduce the risk and impacts of climate variability and extreme weather events such as droughts, dry spells and heavy rains. Healthy soil systems can better respond to temperature increases, changing rainfall patterns, increase evapotranspiration rates, alter pest and disease cycles, etc. Composting improves soil quality by promoting soil aggregation and preventing surface crusting, which enhances water infiltration, plant root penetration and soil aeration. This also prevents surface run-off and erosion. It also conserves the nutrients contained in animal manure, sewage sludge, and similar materials. Further, it supplies the plant growth hormones not found in inorganic fertilizers. Composting likewise increases the buffering capacity of soils and minimizes the adverse effects of soil acidity and alkalinity. These result in reduced farm input costs because less chemical fertilizer is needed. The application of Trichoderma accelerates composting of organic materials available in vegetable farms. For disaster prone countries like the Philippines, soil property and fertility improvement through rapid composting is therefore seen as a good practice option to enhance overall resilience and prevent high production losses due to degraded or eroded soils.

Description

Introduction

This good practice option was tested in the project “Enhanced Climate Change Adaptation Capacity of Communities in Contiguous Fragile Ecosystems in the Cordilleras (2009 – 2011). Through the active participation and involvement of local stakeholders and end-users in both training and field demonstration activities, the project identified rapid composting using Trichoderma as a location-specific and appropriate option for climate change adaptation in selected representative sites for low, middle and high elevation in Benguet and Ifugao.

Composting can complement certain crop rotations and agroforestry systems and can be used in planting pits and nurseries. Compost has very similar composition to soil organic matter, breaks down slowly in the soil (e.g. compared to manure) and is effective at improving the physical condition of the soil. Compost also contains humus or humified organic matter, which serves as a “bank” or “reserve” for important plant nutrients. Trichoderma is a fungi that has the ability to accelerate the composting process. The benefits from increased soil organic matter and composting include:

·         nutrients being available to crops during times when there are minimal or zero external inputs;

·         reduced need for commercial fertilizers;

·         improved plant health, which is an important line of defense against pests, diseases, and environmental stress;

·         better retention of fertilizers and reduced run-off; and

·         soil buffering, because the organic matter in compost neutralizes both acidic and alkaline soils and brings pH levels to the optimum range for nutrient availability to plants.

The GPO was rated as technologically suitable (rating of 4; high) because of the strong and clear link between improved soil property and fertility, increased soil organic matter through composting, and increased resilience to climate change impacts. Composting increases soil organic matter, which improves soils so that they can help water infiltrate better (also reducing run-off and erosion); store more moisture; contain more readily available nutrients (as well as nutrients in humic substances that can be tapped later); and harbor a diverse mix of soil organisms that will help maintain nutrient availability and control pests and pathogens.These improvements in the soil ecosystem can then lead to healthier crops and higher yields and a farming system that can utilize water and nutrients more efficiently, reduce commercial fertilizer use, manage wastes more effectively, and be less sensitive to climate change related stress such as droughts, heavy rainfall and temperature swings.  

The GPO has a very high rating (score of 5) for Environmental Efficiency and Effectiveness due to its high potential to reduce fertilizer usage.  Combined with conservation agriculture practices, this GPO has a potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because of the sequestration of carbon dioxide through the decomposing of organic matter to the soil.

Objectives

The objective of composting using Trichoderma is to accelerate compost production, reduce production costs, improve waste management and make farms better withstand climate change related events such as droughts and heavy rains or extreme rainfall events.

Implementation of the Technology

The inputs for the implementation of this good practice are Compost Fungus Activator (CFA) – Trichoderma, composting materials such as crop residues and other farm wastes, and animal manure. Compost making requires the construction of a platform or compost pen to provide aeration to the bottom of the compost pile. Farm wastes such as grasses/weeds, kakawate leaves, and animal manure were gathered and moistened. Crop residues were then piled in layers in the compost pen and the CFA (10-20 kg/t of crop residues) was broadcasted/applied. More animal manure and other nitrogen-rich crop residues were added after the application of the CFA. Once properly piled up, the composting materials were covered and watered once a week depending on moisture requirements. The compost should be ready after 3 to 4 weeks and can now be applied to crops as ameliorants.

Results and finding

The rating/scoring of this GPO is based on the evaluation of local experts/stakeholders and experiences from the field.

The GPO was rated as technologically suitable (rating of 4; high) because of the strong and clear link between improved soil property and fertility, increased soil organic matter through composting, and increased resilience to climate change impacts. Composting increases soil organic matter, which improves soils so that they can help water infiltrate better (also reducing run-off and erosion); store more moisture; contain more readily available nutrients (as well as nutrients in humic substances that can be tapped later); and harbor a diverse mix of soil organisms that will help maintain nutrient availability and control pests and pathogens.

These improvements in the soil ecosystem can then lead to healthier crops and higher yields and a farming system that can utilize water and nutrients more efficiently, reduce commercial fertilizer use, manage wastes more effectively, and be less sensitive to climate change related stress such as droughts, heavy rainfall and temperature swings.  

The GPO has a very high rating (score of 5) for Environmental Efficiency and Effectiveness due to its high potential to reduce fertilizer usage. Combined with conservation agriculture practices, this GPO has a potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because of the sequestration of carbon dioxide through the decomposing of organic matter to the soil. 

Economic benefits, social and cultural acceptability and farmers feedback

 

In the Philippine context, the GPO had high (score of 4) socio-economic acceptability. Simple analyses based on the farm interview and the 200 square meter demonstration plot in Buguias, Benguet were carried out. The economic cost of organic fertilizer or compost was deemed low. The output or yield using the organic fertilizer was also lower compared to commercial fertilizer. However, it was noted that the market price of organically grown vegetables is higher, which could compensate for the lower expected output/yield.

Replication and Up-scaling

The above good practice option is recommended for up-scaling with training and technical assistance from the Department of Agriculture and the Municipal Agricultural Office to ensure that composting is done properly. The type of Trichoderma used in the field-testing is considered expensive by the farmers, especially if personal funds will be used. The sourcing out cheaper but equally good quality Trichoderma is recommended. 

Images

Further reading

• Compendium of Good Practice Climate Change Adaptation Options in Agriculture. Of specific relevance is http://teca.fao.org/sites/default/files/news_files/Week%205%20Soil%20man...

• Published by the Philippines Department of Agriculture and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations through the MDG-F 1656 Outcome 3.1 Project. June 2012.

• MDG-F 1656 Outcome 3.1 Project Website: climatechange.da.gov.ph

• See implementation documentation on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmvawukqAvQ&feature=context&context=C4f10...

Countries

Philippines

Created date

Tue, 08/01/2013 - 10:39

Source

Natural Resources Management and Environment Department, FAO

The Natural Resources Management and Environment Department provides leadership, technical and policy advice and knowledge towards the sustainable use of the earth’s natural resources (land, water, genetic resources and biodiversity). The Impact, Adaptation and Environmental Sustainability team of the Climate, Energy and Tenure Division (NRC) develops the knowledge base on the impact of climate, climate change and climate variability on agriculture, and facilitates the use of this information and knowledge through field projects. The team also supports capacity development at national level by supporting governments to integrate disaster risk reduction in the agriculture sector as well as identifying, testing and validating in cooperation with various partners climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction good practice options to build resilience of all actors in agriculture to the impact of climate change and extreme weather events.

 

if you have any inquiry you could contact: DRR-for-FNS@fao.org OR climate-change@fao.org

Contact person: 
Stephan Baas / Selvaraju Ramasamy
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