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Enhanced nitrogen cycling and N2O loss in water-saving ground cover rice production systems (GCRPS)

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Enhanced nitrogen cycling and N2O loss in water-saving ground cover rice production systems (GCRPS) Zhe Chen; Shan Lin; Zhisheng Yao; Xunhua Zheng; Gschwendtner, S.; Schloterd, M.; Meiju Liu; Yanan Zhangb; Butterbach-Bahl, Klaus; Dannenmann, M. An alternative to conventional cultivation of rice on submerged paddy soil is the ground cover rice production system (GCRPS), in which soil is covered with a plastic film to reduce the use of irrigation water. However, reduced soil water, increased aeration and temperature under GCRPS could promote soil nitrogen (N) mineralizing, nitrifying and denitrifying microbes and thus enhance soil N turnover and environmental losses e.g., through emission of the potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O). At two sites with paired GCRPS and conventional paddy fields in Central China, we followed the abundance and activity of N-mineralizers, nitrifiers, denitrifiers and N2-fixing microbes based on qPCR from DNA and RNA directly extracted from soil. With decreasing soil water during the growing season, GCRPS strongly increased N mineralization as illustrated by several fold increased transcript levels of chiA. Furthermore, GCRPS reduced the nifH transcripts (encoding for nitrogenase) by 38% to 70% but increased the qnorB transcripts by 160% and archaeal amoA (AOA) transcripts by one order of magnitude (encoding for nitric oxide reductase and ammonia monooxygenase). This indicated a higher potential for N losses due to decreased biological N2 fixation, increased N leaching and increased N2O emission in GCRPS. The latter was confirmed by increased in situ N2O emissions. In addition, the N2-fixing and denitrifying microbial community composition as measured by a community fingerprinting approach was strongly influenced by GCRPS cultivation. Hence, our study reveals the microbial mechanisms underlying the risks for increased N mineralization, nitrification and N2O emissions and decreased biological N fixation in GCRPS. However, analysis of topsoil N stocks provided evidence that at least under N fertilizer application, GCRPS might overall maintain soil N stocks. This might result from a GCRPS-induced increase in fertilizer N use efficiency, root development and C and N return via residues, which appear to outbalance the observed effects on nitrification, gaseous N losses and biological N fixation, thereby preventing a net loss of total soil N.

Management intensity controls soil N2O fluxes in an Afromontane ecosystem

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Management intensity controls soil N2O fluxes in an Afromontane ecosystem Wanyamaa, I.; Pelster, David; Arias-Navarro, Cristina; Butterbach-Bahl, Klaus; Verchot, Louis; Rufino, Mariana Studies that quantify nitrous oxide (N2O) fluxes from African tropical forests and adjacent managed land uses are scarce. The expansion of smallholder agriculture and commercial agriculture into the Mau forest, the largest montane forest in Kenya, has caused large-scale land use change over the last decades. We measured annual soil N2O fluxes between August 2015 and July 2016 from natural forests and compared them to the N2O fluxes from land either managed by smallholder farmers for grazing and tea production, or commercial tea and eucalyptus plantations (n = 18). Air samples from 5 pooled static chambers were collected between 8:00 am and 11:30 am and used within each plot to calculate the gas flux rates. Annual soil N2O fluxes ranged between 0.2 and 2.9 kg N ha− 1 yr− 1 at smallholder sites and 0.6–1.7 kg N ha− 1 yr− 1 at the commercial agriculture sites, with no difference between land uses (p = 0.98 and p = 0.18, respectively). There was marked variation within land uses and, in particular, within those managed by smallholder farmers where management was also highly variable. Plots receiving fertilizer applications and those with high densities of livestock showed the highest N2O fluxes (1.6 ± 0.3 kg N2O-N ha− 1 yr− 1, n = 7) followed by natural forests (1.1 ± 0.1 kg N2O-N ha− 1 yr− 1, n = 6); although these were not significantly different (p = 0.19). Significantly lower fluxes (0.5 ± 0.1 kg N ha− 1 yr− 1, p < 0.01, n = 5) were found on plots that received little or no inputs. Daily soil N2O flux rates were not correlated with concurrent measurements of water filled pore space (WFPS), soil temperature or inorganic nitrogen (IN) concentrations. However, IN intensity, a measure of exposure of soil microbes (in both time and magnitude) to IN concentrations was strongly correlated with annual soil N2O fluxes.

Benefits, limitations and sustainability of soil and water conservation structures in Omo-Gibe basin, Southwest Ethiopia

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Benefits, limitations and sustainability of soil and water conservation structures in Omo-Gibe basin, Southwest Ethiopia Wolka, K.; Sterk, G.; Biazin, Birhanu; Negash, M. Different types of soil and water conservation (SWC) structures were introduced to Ethiopia during the last four decades for abating water erosion and sustaining agricultural productivity. This study aimed to determine benefits, limitations and sustainability of SWC structures in the Toni and Bokole watersheds of the Omo Gibe basin. A household survey was conducted on a total of 201 households, which were selected by employing a multistage sampling procedure that covered six rural kebeles.1 Moreover, six focus group discussions were conducted. The results revealed that more than 80% of respondents in Bokole watershed and all respondents in Toni watershed experienced moderate to severe soil erosion. Farmers were selective in accepting and implementing SWC structures depending on the local land characteristics. Stone bunds were widely implemented in Bokole watershed where rock fragments are abundant and Fanya juuand soil bunds were widely practiced in Toni watershed where rock fragments are not available. Owing to labor intensiveness of the SWC structures, more than 82% of respondents in Bokole and 54% in Toni perceived that labor shortage was a challenge for construction and maintenance. More than 74% of the adopter farmers were also concerned about the loss of cultivable land due to the construction of SWC structures. Number of cattle owned (p < 0.05) and having administrative responsibility in the kebele (p < 0.1) significantly and negatively influenced construction of the SWC structures in Bokole watershed. Runoff overtopping, livestock trampling and cultivation practices were mentioned as the causes of damages for the SWC structures in both watersheds. In Bokole watershed, 92% of the respondents indicated that they repaired the broken SWC structures to sustain their benefits. But 62% of respondents in Toni watershed did not repair. The effort of repairing the SWC structures was significantly (p < 0.05) and negatively influenced by farmland area in Bokole watershed and by education level in Toni watershed. The respondents’ preferences of SWC structures, rate of adoption, willingness to repair and factors affecting adoption and repairing were slightly different in Bokole watershed when compared with Toni watershed. Thus, we concluded that effective implementation and sustainability of SWC structures should critically consider the land users’ socio-economic and environmental intricacy.

A Business Evaluation of the Sales and Distribution Model for Index-Based Livestock Insurance

IBLI News -

“Developing the insurance product was the easy part. The tweaking, monitoring, and adapting – that has been much more complicated.” This, in essence, was what Cornell development economist Christopher Barrett informed us as we began discussing our upcoming Kenya research trip with him. He was right. Since the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) formulated Index-Based Livestock Insurance (IBLI) ten years ago, the product has been lauded as a strategy to prevent drought-induced livestock losses among Kenyan and Ethiopian pastoralists. By combining satellite observations of forage conditions with longitudinal livestock mortality rates, it calculates clients’ seasonal payouts. While by and large successful – and already showing evidence of positive impactson pastoralists’ wellbeings – the rollout of IBLI has faced numerous challenges, as Takaful Insurance of Africa, IBLI’s current private sector partner, can attest.

Continue reading…

Cleaning up assessments of livestock-environment systems in developing countries with CLEANED

Clippings -

Dairy cow in Tanga, Tanzania

Dairy cow in Tanga, Tanzania (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

As a vegetarian, my occupation as a livestock scientist might come as an odd choice. But here’s the thing: Livestock science isn’t about promoting meat eating; it’s about investigating better ways of farming meat so we don’t harm the environment in the process.

‘Global projections show that rising incomes are only expected to increase the demand for meat. I don’t think that has to be a bad thing.

‘The question for me is not whether we produce or eat meat — but how we do it. And lab-grown meat, which has recently grabbed global headlines, is not the only way.

‘Some key reasons farmers keep animals, especially in developing countries, are so they can earn better incomes, have better prospects for their families, and produce manure to fertilize their farms. Eating meat regularly is often not an option. Milk, eggs and other dairy products, however, contribute toward a more nutritious diet.

‘There’s a tool that was developed to support governments, NGOs and extension workers as they guide farmers through complex decisions, so they can earn better incomes, put more food on the table and protect the environment at the same time. Called CLEANED, it gives best-bet options for making the most of limited resources in specific contexts and circumstances. . . .

‘The biggest lesson from our pilot research is that every farm is different, and farmers need to consider their own resources before taking new interventions into account. . . .

‘The tool, then, helps to throw light on recommendations and solutions. . . .’

What CLEANED helps us do is to look at the potential of a farm from different angles. That’s what being a livestock scientists is about: helping people make the best choices — including whether or not to eat meat.

‘The CLEANED tool is available here. It is supported by the Gates Foundation and the CGIAR Research Programs on Livestock and Fish and Livestock.’

Read the whole article by Jessica Mukiri: Local context is everything: It’s how animals are produced that’s important, Medium, 14 Mar 2018.

The Comprehensive Livestock Environmental Assessment for Improved Nutrition, a Secured Environment and Sustainable Development along Livestock and Fish Value Chains (CLEANED) Excel tool is a rapid ex-ante environmental impact assessment tool that allows users to explore multiple impacts of developing livestock value chains. It models the impact of changes in the livestock production systems and value chains along several pathways on land use, productivity, economics, water impacts, greenhouse gas emissions and soil health.

Opportunities and Challenges in Striving Towards Sustainable Food Systems

CRP 4 program news -

Food systems are increasingly recognized as central for growing concerns about how to nourish our global population while providing sufficient income and employment, and respecting the capabilities of our planet. As discussions in development move away from considering individual value chains in isolation and towards a more holistic food systems approach, engaging with partners and >> Read more

ILRI vacancy: Program Accountant – Animal & Human Health (closing date: 28 March 2018)

Jobs -

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) seeks to recruit a Program Accountant to provide financial support to the Program ranging from monitoring grant spending, reviewing all charges posted to the projects to be accurate and timely, managing Partner spending, posting expenses and reversals as needed, preparation of Financial Reports, assisting in processing payments among other duties.

ILRI works to improve food and nutritional security and reduce poverty in developing countries through research for efficient, safe and sustainable use of livestock. It is the only one of 15 CGIAR research centres dedicated entirely to animal agriculture research for the developing world. Co-hosted by Kenya and Ethiopia, it has regional or country offices and projects in East, South and Southeast Asia as well as Central, East, Southern and West Africa. www.ilri.org

Key Responsibilities

1. Financial Accounting, project management and donor reporting

  • Develop and maintain appropriate databases to ensure project financial management is done to meet various program financial demands
  • Prepare all projects payment requests for sub-grantees in collaboration with Project Manager (PM) and Project Leaders
  • Follow up with finance to ensure timely payments to sub-grantees and ensure transfer advices are shared with partners
  • Ensure project partners’ financial returns are submitted. Review advance requests and financial returns by partners with reference to contractual obligations and partner financial obligations liquidation effected in the One Corporate System (OCS)
  • Prepare detailed monthly, quarterly and annual internal financial reports as requested by PM highlighting issues on over/under expenditure and adjustment of wrong postings in the system and also to facilitate monitoring and tracking of project finances, and decision making by Project leaders
  • Maintain proper financial and project records of projects both soft and hard.
  • Prepare donor financial reports/statement in collaboration with PM, Project Leaders and Finance department and maintain appropriate compliance donor reporting databases
  • Compute project accruals annually and during project close outs and ensure they are captured in the system
  • Raise invoices & follow up reimbursements and transfer advices from partners/donors
  • Lead project specific audit and support external/internal audit as may be found necessary
  • Support annual budget preparation by working with PM

2. Proposal development- budget development

  • Participate in meetings during proposal development
  • Provide advise especially in unit costs etc. towards development of proposal budgets
  • Prepare proposal budgets for review by PM and Project Leader
  • Upload project budgets to the OCS System.

3. Project settlements reports, travel expense reports, travel authorizations (TAs), requisitions

  • Review Project Settlements Reports, Travel Expense Reports and TAs
  • Review of all Terms of References for Program staff and consultants before approval by project leaders. Ensure that all support documents have been attached /provided for


  • Bachelor of Commerce (Finance option)
  • Master of Business Administration (Finance option) will be an added advantage.
  • Full accounting qualifications CPA (K) or ACCA
  • Experience with projects Accounting
  • Minimum of three years of relevant working experience
  • Good personal organizational skills, accuracy and attention to detail
  • Good communication and interpersonal skills
  • Highly effective multi-tasking skills, with ability to coordinate, prioritize and organize workload and meet deadlines

Terms of Appointment

These are Nationally Recruited Staff (NRS) position; based at Nairobi, Kenya and open to Kenyan nationals only.

The position is on a 3-year contract, renewable subject to satisfactory performance and availability of funding.

Job Level

This position is job level 2c Level 2, ILRI offers a competitive salary and benefits package which includes; pension, medical and other insurances for ILRI’s Nationally Recruited Staff.

How to apply: Applicants should send a cover letter and CV expressing their interest in the position, what they can bring to the job and the names and addresses (including telephone and email) of three referees who are knowledgeable about the candidate’s professional qualifications and work experience to the Director, People and Organizational Development through our recruitment portal http://ilri.simplicant.com/ on or before 28 March 2018. The position title and reference number REF: PA/AHH/03/18 should be clearly marked on the subject line of the cover letter.

ILRI does not charge a fee at any stage of the recruitment process (application, interview meeting, processing or training). ILRI also does not concern itself with information on applicants’ bank accounts.

To find out more about ILRI, visit our websites at http://www.ilri.org/

To find out more about working at ILRI visit our website at http://www.ilri.org/ilricrowd/

ILRI is an equal opportunity employer.

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