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Agrobiodiversity / / German-funded research on climate-smart crop-livestock systems

German-funded research on climate-smart crop-livestock systems

CIAT scientists have known for a while that the forage grass Brachiaria humidicola not only improves livestock productivity but also has the potential to deliver important environmental benefits. This stems from the grass’s ability to limit the conversion of ammonium (applied to soil as nitrogen fertilizer) into nitrate and nitrous oxide through a process called biological nitrification inhibition, or BNI. The process lowers emissions of the most potent greenhouse gas, while also reducing runoff of polluting nitrates into water supplies.

Now, researchers are using participatory methods with smallholder farmers to incorporate this innovative technology, using Brachiaria humidicola hybrids, into integrated crop-livestock production systems. Carried out in collaboration with partners in Nicaragua, Germany, and Colombia, the work receives support from the Germany Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) GmbH in the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through a 3-year project (2012-2015) with total funding of US$1.5 million.

To bring together partners and assess the status of this research, the project held its second workshop last August at Villavicencio in Colombia’s Meta Department. The partners attending included researchers from Nicaragua’s National Agrarian University, the University of Hohenheim in Germany, Colombian Corporation of Agricultural Research (Corpoica), Colombia’s University of the Llanos, and CIAT. They were joined by visitors from the Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences (CATAS).forages

The project aims to reduce nitrogen losses from crop-livestock systems through large-scale adoption of improved B. humidicola hybrids. In addition to offering environmental benefits, this should boost crop and livestock productivity through more efficient use of nitrogen fertilizers. Researchers are using both genotypic and phenotypic methods to quantify the BNI trait, thus reducing the time needed for field testing of the hybrids.

“The workshop brought together researchers from different scientific backgrounds and institutions to report their advances as well as the obstacles they face in research on BNI,” said Jacobo Arango, the CIAT forages researcher who organized the workshop. His postdoctoral work at the Center is partly funded by the German government through the Center for International Migration and Development (CIM).


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  • Reinhardt Howeler: Thanks, Keith. It was a pleasure writing this book as it brought back so many good memories of working with cassava, both in Latin America and in Asia. I was lucky that the Nippon Foundation suggested that I write this book and financed its publication. They also wanted a simplified version for farmers and extension workers that could be translated into various languages. The English version of this new book is now going to press in Hanoi, while the Khmer and Vietnamese translations are also ready for printing and the Thai and Chinese translations are still being worked on. In case you are interested in the English version, let me know. My email address is still And let me know where you are working now and what you are doing. Reinhardt
  • Peter de Vroome: Great invention! Could be very usefull in our research in fast detecting CFSD in our planting material. Is this kit already for sale? Peter de Vroome phytopathologist Centre for Agricultural Research in Suriname (C.E.L.O.S.)
  • German-funded research on climate-smart crop-livestock systemsSupport CIAT: […] Written by: Angela Fernando […]
  • Keith Fuglie: An impressive publication! Reinhardt Howeler has done an incredible job of summarizing lessons from nearly 30 years of work on cassava improvement in Asia. This very successful collaboration between CIAT and national research programs demonstrates what can be achieved through modest but persistent investment in agricultural research, even with a relatively neglected crop grown primarily by poor farm families in marginal environments.
  • Unraveling the genetic secrets of the insect ve...: […] Jeff Stuart, an insect molecular geneticist from Purdue University, USA, is bringing new ideas to unravel the genetic secrets of insect vectors of crop virus diseases (RT @CGIAR: News: Unraveling the genetic secrets of the insect vectors of crop virus...  […]
  • Kellan: i am also working on ppd on cassava. can you please help me find find a suitable protocol to analyse ppd.
  • ALI SALEM IBRAHIM: Hi we looking to start collaborations with ciat center if it,s possible.
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