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Mexican farmers waking up to new beds

As part of a Fundaci贸n Sonora project and nationwide efforts to test and promote resourceconserving practices, during 10-12 October Fernando Delgado, Rodrigo Rasc贸n, Iv谩n Ort铆z-Monasterio, and Bram Govaerts and his agronomy team held a three-day, hands-on training course for farmers and technicians, particularly on sowing on permanent raised beds, in the Yaqui Valley of Sonora State, northern Mexico.

Attended by 25 farmers and technicians, the course focused on the operation of a multi-use, multi-crop prototype machine to fertilize, reshape permanent beds, and sow winter maize into different types of straw from various preceding crops. Training was based on the results of long-term experiments on conservation agriculture that CIMMYT is conducting in Mexico, including one at El Bat谩n begun in 1991. The group plans to establish six on-farm research and training modules at key farming system sites across the country.

“The results of summer sorghum already sown in two modules had great impact,鈥 says Govaerts. 鈥淎n economic analysis with farmers showed per-hectare profits on permanent beds of more than twice those of the conventional system. The owners of the land are ready to go for the next zero-tillage crop.鈥

Meanwhile, the next training course, scheduled for November, will involve farmers sowing wheat on permanent beds in different types of straw with the same planter.