Agronomy – Work Package 2


In the Mahafaly region agricultural activities are constrained by very low precipitation, low soil organic matter and nutrient contents and limited access to resources. Current crop production consists of rainfed agriculture and subsistence oriented cultivation of cassava, maize, sweet potato, sorghum and legumes with hand tools. Traditionally, no chemical or even natural soil amendments, such as cow manure are applied in the field while crop residues are intensively grazed. Furthermore, due to low productivity and recurring droughts in the last years, increasing charcoal production for income puts stress on the natural vegetation.

This work package aims to enhance the farmers’ income from crop production and to reduce pressure on the natural environment

To achieve this WP 2 tries to evaluate and implement options of intensified crop production based on a better use of locally available resources. Examples for this approach are: recycling of ruminant manure and charcoal rests to maintain soil carbon levels, improvement of the chemical, physical and biological properties of the soil, as well as irrigation of introduced high value crops..



With the help of on-farm experiments and in close cooperation with local farmers, WP 2 specifically aims at:

  • Investigating current land use systems, and their plant genetic resources and potentials
  • Determining the yield increase potential and cost efficiency of manure and charcoal amendments in rainfed cassava and maize cropping systems and irrigated vegetable production
  • Assessing the impact and interactions of these amendments with soil biodiversity
  • Evaluating the current status of charcoal production and establishing more sustainable charcoal production systems


Current thesis:

  • Effects of soil fauna – Bait-Lamina and litter bag experiments, PhD thesis: Roger Andriamparanay (University of Antananarivo)
  • The importance and effects of charcoal production on the Mahafaly Plateau, PhD thesis: Tahiry Ranaivoson (University of Antananarivo)
  • Biodiversity of terrestrial invertebrates on the Mahafaly Plateau (SW Madagascar) in relation to land use type and land use intensity – for matter turn – over and subsequent trophic levels, PhD thesis: Roman Fricke (University of  Marburg)


Completed thesis:


For further information on the projects and all current projects click here: Project List




  Events & News 2016



21.4. - 30.6. (Germany)

Exibition (Hamburg, Biozentrum Grindel)
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