Quantifying, analysing, and mitigating residue management trade-offs in Southern Bangladesh

Supervisors

Johannes Scholberg (FSE Wageningen UR)
Pablo Tittonell (FSE Wageningen UR)
Timothy Krupnik (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center)

Introduction

In Southern Bangladesh, an increasing number of farmers are expressing interest in Conservation Agriculture (CA) based crop management to decrease production costs. CA involves reducing soil tillage, the partial retention of crop residues on the soil surface as mulch, and crop rotations. Participatory, on-farm trials of have shown yield gains and economic benefits of practicing CA in rainy season rice-dominated farming systems, especially when such practices are used to increase the subsequent dry season production of wheat, maize, and legumes. However, farmers face trade-offs between the use of residues as mulch in CA and the  sale of residues on the market, as well as the use of residues as livestock feed and household fuel. Questions also remain regarding the viability of crop residue use for CA given traditional grazing and fuel scavenging rights.

Procedures

This research proposal is geared towards quantifying, analysing, and developing management strategies to mitigate the trade-offs between the use of residues for CA and alternative on- and off-farm uses. Conduct your research in a variety of villages across Southern Bangladesh, in which the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) is working with Wageningen University. Your fieldwork will involve quantifying residue flows through village surveys and direct measurements. Data will be analysed using a variety of appropriate computer simulation models to design and test different management strategies to allocate appropriate levels of residue to crop fields, animals, and households. This research will have immediate practical value in CIMMYT’s farmer training programs across the region, as your work will be incorporated to develop better-bet farm management recommendations that will be scaled up through region-wide extension programs.