Farmer participatory research to minimize soil erosion on steepland vegetable systems in the Philippines
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Soil erosion is a significant threat to agricultural productivity on sloped lands. This paper assesses a farmer participatory research project to evaluate the effectiveness of high-value contour hedgerows (of pineapple, asparagus, pigeon peas, lemongrass, and tea) as a method of steepland erosion control. The study compared researcher plots with high-value contour hedgerows to farmer-managed plots cultivated in the traditional up-and-down method. Measurements were made of soil loss, nutrient loss, and water runoff. The researchers applied the Erosion-Productivity Impact Calculator (EPIC) model to simulate the effects of annual crop sequences in conjunction with contour hedgerows. Tomato - cabbage - tomato sequences lost significantly more soil than cabbage - tomato - cabbage sequences. Because an average of two thirds of total soil loss occurred between September and December, the authors suggest that cropping sequences during that period should include corn or cabbage rather than tomato. The effectiveness of this research in producing accurate predictions of soil loss and enhancing farmer awareness of the magnitude of soil lost in their tradition cultivation methods affirm the value of farmer participatory research.