Haiti Reconstruction

Rebuilding Haiti must start from the ground up, with agricultural education

Fertilize the soil

Chemical fertilizers are currently not an option nor is it good for the soil, this is why we encourage them to plants certain crops in Step 2 for enriching the soil.

Planting nitrogen fixing plants next to high yielding crop producing plants is a great system called alley farming.

Once again the most important step is the 1st step, Vetiver hedge rows!

Without these thick grass hedge rows, composting is impossible to retain on Haiti's mountain sides.

Once vetiver hedgerows are well established to hold compost we can build mountainside gardens fertilized with humanure.

Humanure is the best source of fertilizer for gardens availible and it only costs labor to produce. Every home and public toilet should be composting, which saves water and is the most sanitary and quickest way to break down pathogens that otherwise breeds Typhoid!

Some day when we can cut vetiver and make fuel pucks that will replace charcoal in family stoves. The byproduct or left over char is also called Biochar.

Also once processed properly human waist and compost will make Terra Preta. Terra Preta was once layered on these mountainsides which were very fertile, it will only be brought back if we can stop the erosion!

Check out this web page to see studies on benefit of the alley farming we are doing

We are training them to alley farm like the pictures below, which produces crops with higher yields in less space. Legumes fertilize the land with protein from the leaves as the roots of these plants put nitrogen in the soil. These pictures show how to keep leucaena growing low, which produces lots of new leaf fodder for healthy nutricious corn.

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We use this planting method on mountains sides to stops erosion, yet leaving peasant farmers room to cultivate and grow food for their families. But we tell them they must have another row of vetiver below them to save their best soil.

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These trees are also excellent fodder for goats, they can cut and carry to their cattle and they can let them forage after they harvest their crops.

Feeding goats leucaena & benzolive leaves can increase their milk production and their daily weight gain.

Experiments with Moringa (Benzolive) and milk cows. Dairy cows were supplemented with 15 to 17 kilograms of fresh Moringa leaves daily, and the cattle’s milk production increased by 43 percent. Then they supplemented the milk cows’ feed with 2 kg dry matter of Moringa per day, and milk production increased by 58 percent. When they increased it to 3 kg dry matter per day, and milk production increased by 65 percent.

Little known fact: Goats produce more milk per food substance consumed than dairy cows. Goat’s milk is nutritious and has less lactose which makes it more digestible than bovine milk.

Imagine what would be possible if milk production in developing countries could be increased in this way. It could prevent untold suffering of people with protein deficiency.

Once we have large established herds we will also get manure to enrich the soil.

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I'd like to start with a warning from Richard Tinsley, author of Developing Smallholder Agriculture: "It also must be recognized that most organic farming, with the exception of nitrogen fixation by legumes, is more a movement of nutrients from one place to another, in a zero sum effort, than the manufacture of additional nutrients. The natural removal of nutrients with the marketed produce eventually has to be replaced from an external source. Also, recovering organic nutrients requires extensive time and effort, for which the energy required for the nutrient recovery may actually exceed the extra energy produced by whatever increased yield is obtained by recovering the nutrients."

That said, there are opportunities to reclaim otherwise lost nutrients in eroded soil, ag waste, and humanure, at least reducing the losses.

The first step in improving soil fertility is in finding out what is deficient. This will mean soil testing or close observation of crops for deficiency symptoms. There are classic deficiency symptoms for the major nutrients:

http://www.back-to-basics.net/nds/index.htm#

For a great introduction to soil fertility in the tropics see:

Soil Fertility: Principles for Sustainable Agricultural Development

Giant Mexican Sunflower, Tithonia diversifolia, is a phosphorus accumulator that can mobilize and absorb soil phosphorus. It can move phosphorus from waste places along roads to crop fields. Composted tithonia can significantly increase corn yield in phosphorus deficient soils.

Ultimately, addition of deficient mineral nutrients may be necessary. These might include primary nutrients phosphorus (P) and potassium(K), (nitrogen(N) can be fixed from the atmosphere by legumes), secondary nutrients: calcium(Ca), magnesium(Mg), sulfur(S), or micronutrients: boron(B), copper(Cu), iron(Fe), chloride(Cl), manganese(Mn), molybdenum (Mo) and zinc (Zn).

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