Project DetailsSummaryProject Title: Forage and Fallows II: Expanding the impact of improved fallows and landscape management for soil fertility and ecosystem servicesOverview: Soils play a fundamental role in supporting agricultural productivity and other key ecosystem services. As demands on agriculture continue to increase, new strategies of smallholder farmers must ensure sustainable intensification of cropping and grazing practices, while promoting resilience to climate change and maintaining soil quality and function. Fallows are an important feature of Andean agriculture that are critical to soil regeneration. It is necessary to develop effective strategies to maintain their regenerative effects on soils and contribute to farmer livelihoods, particularly as fallows are shortened as part of cropping system intensification. Previous research has provided some understanding of soil fertility restoration dynamics in Andean fallows, but this work is limited in scope and largely represents only the Altiplano or the humid northern Andes. Recent findings from the Andes also emphasize the importance of soil gradients in determining the productivity of introduced species (legumes in particular) in improved fallows. These findings suggest great potential to capitalize on multi-purpose fallows, but also highlight the need to better understand fallow performance across a range of Andean biophysical conditions, and within the context of household livelihood portfolios and whole communities.This project will extend findings from the previous phase on forage/fallow options and will amplify the impact of the work using multi-environment experimentation of fallows and forages in new regions. It will draw from local education efforts and regional/global information networks for agroecological intensification (AEI). Socioeconomic drivers of adaptation will be explicitly addressed by exploring how fallows can best complement other livelihood options and be managed by farmers/households within different livelihood typologies. The landscape inventory of soil health and ecosystem services from our first phase will be further refined by examining the impacts of heterogeneity, resource gradients, and edge effects within agricultural fields. This effort will allow for better prediction of the impact of land use on ecosystem service production at multiple scales.The project will promote scaling out this learning and will support future agroecological innovation by working with local schools to develop new strategies and curriculum for promoting the responsible management of soils and agroecosystems. Local universities will be supported via seminars and training in soil quality assessment, as well as involving scientists and undergraduate students in on-farm research activities. The SuelosAndinos.org (Andean Landscapes) website will continue to be developed to share information about the project and foster collaboration and information exchange across the Andean region. Furthermore, a highly promising technician who has grown professionally during the first phase of this project would pursue formal training in a Master's program at Colorado State University.Project Aims: Capacity building of farmers: Greater management capacity by smallholders for sustainable management of mixed crop and livestock systems under intensification.Productivity of soils and landscapes: Improved soil productivity in landscapes under intensified management in the central Andes.Research and technical capacity: Greater research and technical capacity among development professionals and researchers of the region.Scaling up ecosystem services: Improved planning capacity and knowledge of outcomes concerning ecosystem services within local and regional governments of the region.Disseminating sustainable farming: Greater consciousness among current and future land managers and policy makers regarding the importance of sustainable farming methods and the important role of sustainable farming in the future of society.Approach: This project aligns well with CCRP strategies by pursuing feasible AEI options for smallholder systems via research that works alongside and empowers farmers and local organizational partners. Furthermore, it seeks to expand locally-tested options and innovation approaches to new Andean contexts and to foster environmental citizenship and revaluation of farming livelihoods throughout the region. Project emphasis on multi-environment trials, multi-functional agriculture, and recognition of social and biophysical heterogeneity supports the CCRP approach, and it is at the core of our Andes regional portfolio. By explicitly aiming to connect suitable options with diverse contexts and learning to formulate policy recommendations, the project will contribute to an area in which the CCRP program and the Andes Community of Practice (CoP) want to learn from and improve. The program builds on and uses findings (and products) from the first phase. Additionally, it will strengthen ongoing CoP efforts on landscape analysis-providing evidence for policy making. In addition, it has clear links and feedback with CCRP’s cross-cutting grant on soils, which offers a possibility for scaling and learning across continents.