Today is World Soil Day, a day which focuses attention on the importance of healthy soil. Over the past couple of months, Dan and Maston have been making biochar with the aim of using it to improve soil fertility. If successful, they will train local farmers on how to make and use biochar to improve their soil fertility and crop yields. Already we have 30 farmers keen to take part in the training.
Over 80% of Malawians live in rural areas and are subsistence farmers but much of the soil is exhausted. When the land stops producing good and plentiful crops, people move to clear new areas of land, often in hilly forested areas.
Although we run a successful Forest Conservation project in Nkhata Bay District to educate people about the importance of protecting the forests and how clearing trees on the hillside can lead to soil erosion, the biochar project could deter people from clearing more land and provide a solution to poor yields.
One of our community fruit tree planting groups is helping us trial different methods of planting to see which produces the best results. They have planted four papaya trees, one has been planted with biochar mixed with pig manure, another with just biochar, another with just pig manure and another with just soil. We’ll let you know which tree grows best!