Joint teams survey contribution of terraces to soil fertility

A joint team composed of representatives of Water for Growth Rwanda and SHER have conducted field visits in different catchments, taking soil samples whose findings will show how soil fertility is improved by radical terraces with manure, limestone and other mineral fertilizers.

As part of the catchment planning, the results will also be aligned with national knowledge on improving and reviewing terracing practices in Rwanda.

Terraces and other practices are among the preferences by Water for Growth and its partners in the rehabilitation processes of the four demonstration catchments of Muvumba, Nyabugogo, Sebeya and Upper Nyabarongo.

The terraces play a vital role in increasing agricultural produce, curbing soil erosion, promoting soil conservation and at the same time conserving or protection of water resources.

Theodomir Rishirumuhirwa, a researcher and consultant in SHER said that, with the sampling works, “we will be able to know if soil fertility is improved by radical terraces due to the use of manure, lime and other mineral fertilizers.”

The sampling exercise was done in parts covered by terraces and parts where they are not.

“The findings will also show how the terraces without these inputs (fertilizers, lime, manure…) are being affected.” Rishirumuhirwa added.

Furthermore, Rishirumuhirwa said “another important thing that we need to see is the initial fertility of the soil before terracing and that is why we are trying to sample also other parts not covered by terraces to see the difference between terracing and the soil not covered by the terraces.”

“We will use the findings from the sampling in the catchment planning because these samples will be sent to laboratories and findings will show how the fertility is improved and consequently how the yields are increasing or not increasing. This is very important because it allows us to draw the conclusion on whether terraces are economically profitable or not,” the consultant said.

Soil sampling in Gicumbi

Gicumbi is an example of the districts where the construction of terraces has led to improved agricultural production.

Farmers cultivate crops like Irish potatoes, Beans, wheat, green beans, Maize, Cassava, bananas, coffee and tea.

Jackson Rutagira, an officer in charge of the Environment and Natural resources in Gicumbi District narrated that terraces have contributed to the socio-economic wellbeing of residents.

“As you know about 80% of Rwandans are farmers. Here in Gicumbi an enormous number of citizens practice farming on terraces and this for sure has led to the increase in yields for different crops.”

Rutagira added that as the district is made of high slopes landscape, terraces have contributed much in controlling soil erosion and soil conservation.

“With the use of manure and other fertilizers, our citizens are recording high produce,” he said.

Apart from the soil samples taken in Gicumbi district, the team are also working on other parts of the country.

It is also an opportunity to help Water for Growth interns to acquire skills in soil sampling technics.

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