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Valbuena D.,System Wide Livestock Programme | Valbuena D.,Wageningen University | Tui S.H.K.,ICRISAT | Erenstein O.,CIMMYT | And 7 more authors.
Agricultural Systems | Year: 2015

Crop residues (CR) have become a limited resource in mixed crop-livestock farms. As a result of the increasing demand and low availability of alternative resources, CR became an essential resource for household activities, especially for livestock keeping; a major livelihood element of smallholder farmers in the developing world. Farmers' decisions on CR use are determined by farmers' preferences, total crop production, availability of alternative resources and demand for CR. Interaction of these determinants can result in pressures and trade-offs of CR use. Determinants, pressures and trade-offs are shaped by the specific socio-economic and agro-ecological context of these mixed farms. The objective of this paper is to provide a comparative analysis of the determinants of CR use and to examine some options to cope with pressures and trade-offs in 12 study sites across Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Drawing on socio-economic data at household and village level, we describe how cereal intensification and livestock feed demand influence use, pressures and trade-offs of CR use across study sites, specifically cereal residue. Our results show that in low cereal production and livestock feed demand sites, despite a low demand for CR and availability of alternative biomass, pressures and trade-offs of CR use are common particularly in the dry season. In sites with moderate cereal production, and low-moderate and moderate livestock feed demand, alternative biomass resources are scarce and most residues are fed to livestock or used to cover household needs. Subsequently, pressures and potential trade-offs are stronger. In sites with low cereal production and high livestock feed demand, pressures and trade-offs depend on the availability of better feed resources. Finally, sites with high cereal production and high livestock feed demand have been able to fulfil most of the demand for CR, limiting pressures and trade-offs. These patterns show that agricultural intensification, better management of communal resources and off-farm activities are plausible development pathways to overcome pressures and trade-offs of CR use. Although technologies can largely improve these trends, research and development should revisit past initiatives so as to develop innovative approaches to tackle the well-known problem of low agricultural production in many smallholder mixed systems, creating more sustainable futures. © 2014 The Authors.

Kenny M.,University of Bristol | Smidt H.,Wageningen University | Mengheri E.,INRAN | Miller B.,University of Bristol
Animal | Year: 2011

The delivery of certain living microorganisms in food has long been suggested as having positive health effects in humans. This practice has extended into food animal production, with a variety of microorganisms being used; lactic acid bacteria, various Bacillus species and the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae have been particularly used in the pig industry. The increased interest in probiotics is essentially due to the problem of microbial resistance to antibiotics and following the ban of the use of antibiotics in animal production, probiotics being considered an alternative means to reduce pathogen infection and improve animal health especially around the time of weaning. However, there is still a need to clarify the probiotic effectiveness in pigs, and the underlying mechanisms. When assessing the efficacy of probiotics one must consider the particular strain of organism being used and the production stage of the pigs being treated. The reproducible delivery of probiotics in industrial pig production is problematic as maintenance of viability is key to their beneficial activity, but difficult to achieve with commonly used feed processing technologies. One specific context where probiotics organisms may be reliably delivered is in systems utilising fermented liquid feeds. Liquid feed may be fermented by the activity of wild lactic acid bacteria or may be stimulated using specific isolates as starters; the latter system has advantages in terms of reproducibility and speed of fermentation. The farm context in which the organism is used is likely to be critical; the use of probiotics is more likely to result in measurable economic gains in animals living in sub-optimal conditions rather than in those reared in the highest welfare and husbandry conditions. The establishment of a beneficial lactic acid bacteria population at birth may lead to healthier animals, this may be most effectively achieved by treating sows, which provide an amplification step and flood the neonatal pigs environment with desirable bacterial strains. In contrast, it may be sufficient to provide a supportive, protective microbiota around the time of weaning as this is a time of major crisis with instability and loss of certain bacterial populations. © The Animal Consortium 2011.

Roselli M.,INRAN | Finamore A.,INRAN | Brasili E.,INRAN | Capuani G.,University of Rome La Sapienza | And 3 more authors.
Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture | Year: 2012

Background: Studies on health effects of organic (ORG) products are still limited and often contradictory. We have investigated the impact of ORG and conventional (CV) carrots from two consecutive harvest years on mouse peripheral and intestinal immunity. Results: Danish carrots (Bolero variety) were grown in three ORG (O1, O2 and O3) and one CV cropping system (D-CV). Italian carrots (Maestro and Excelso varieties) were grown in one ORG and one CV field for each variety. Immune phenotypes of blood, spleen and intestinal lymphocytes, and cytokine serum levels were analyzed in mice fed the different carrots for 30 days. Principal component analysis (PCA) was performed in mice fed the Danish carrots. The consumption of the 'more organic' O2 and O3 carrots induced some changes in lymphocyte populations, including an increase in regulatory T cells. In Italian carrots more differences between ORG and CV were observed in the first as compared to the second year. No relevant differences were observed in cytokine secretion. PCA showed a clear separation among mice fed the O1, O2, O3 and D-CV carrots. Conclusions: Although a great variability was observed between the two years, an immune stimulation was found after the ORG carrot consumption. © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry.

Wildemeersch J.C.J.,Ghent University | Garba M.,INRAN | Sabiou M.,INRAN | Fatondji D.,Sahelian Center | Cornelis W.M.,Ghent University
Soil Science and Plant Nutrition | Year: 2015

Abstract: Whether aggravated agricultural drought in the Sahel is related to a changing climate (meteorological drought, i.e., deficit of rainfall or unfavourable rainfall distribution) or to land use and land degradation (soil-water drought, i.e., decreased water infilitration and water holding capacity) is a much-debated issue. Global climate models and trend analysis show little agreement on how rainfall and meteorological drought are changing in the region, and research has increasingly attributed agricultural drought to an imbalanced rainwater distribution over the root zone caused by human-induced land degradation. This paper investigates the extent of both meteorological and soil-water drought on “laterite” soils in the Tillaberí region of Niger and their effect on millet (Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.) growth by combining monthly (1905–1996) and daily (1989–2010) rainfall analysis with analysis of the root zone water distribution under different management practices. The treatments include: zaï + manure (Z), demi-lunes + manure (DL), scarification + manure (SCAR), control + manure (CF) and control (C). Our findings suggest that increasing agricultural drought does not originate from a decreasing annual amount of rainfall. However, other daily rainfall parameters more important for crop biomass productivity than total rainfall amount, such as the number of dry spells, do appear to have recently worsened. Dry-spell analysis showed increased drought risks during the vegetative growth phase (0–40 DAS) and the vulnerable grain formation phase (90–110 DAS, Days After Sowing). The extremely low grain yields and values of soil-water storage below the critical value for water stress of the control treatments, moreover, confirm poor root zone water distribution. DL and Z however, show potential, to mitigate both dry spells and soil-water drought, as they induce an important increase of soil-water storage, resulting in higher grain yields. In order to optimize these water and soil conservation (WSC) techniques and to increase their potential for drought mitigation, the underlying features enabling increased soil-water storage, including water balance analysis, soil physical properties, nutrient management and system design, should be tackled in future studies. © 2015 Japanese Society of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition.

Wildemeersch J.C.J.,Ghent University | Garba M.,INRAN | Sabiou M.,INRAN | Sleutel S.,Ghent University | Cornelis W.,Ghent University
Land Degradation and Development | Year: 2015

The hazard for recurring food insecurity in the Sahel is largely affected by insufficient biomass productivity of degraded, marginal lands. In general, water and soil conservation (WSC) techniques are believed to tackle the deterioration of soil quality by enhancing soil hydraulic properties, soil life, and soil organic carbon (SOC) content, but this beneficial effect on soil quality is hardly ever quantified in WSC research. This study therefore evaluates the effect of WSC on soil chemical, physical, and biological quality indicators by means of an in situ experiment, which was installed in 2011 nearby Sadoré, Niger. The treatments include the following: zaï+manure (Z), demi-lunes+manure, scarification+manure, control+manure, and control. WSC increases grain yields up to 0·7±0·2Mgha-1 on degraded, marginal lands, which is similar to yields produced on fertile lands in the area. Nevertheless, a trade-off between biomass production and SOC accumulation was observed. After three growing seasons, SOC was found to rise significantly for the treatments provided with manure, from ±2·5 to ±5gkg-1, but the increase was lowest for Z, which produced the highest yields. WSC also showed significantly elevated nematode counts but did not considerably affect other soil chemical and soil physical properties. Hence, on the short term, WSC does not improve soil quality, as was widely proclaimed. Therefore, future research should include the assessment of long-term WSC effects and the evaluation of integrated management combining WSC with alternative, yield-enhancing strategies. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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