Toward sustainable agriculture:...
 New device to measure underwater...
 Environmentally sound fertilizers...
 Strategies for Sahelian waters...
 Crop modelling computer programs...
 Supplying essential plant...

Title: Science & technology agriculture reporter
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00071931/00001
 Material Information
Title: Science & technology agriculture reporter STAR
Alternate Title: STAR
Science and technology agriculture reporter
Physical Description: v. : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: United States -- Agency for International Development. -- Office of Agriculture
Publisher: The Office
Place of Publication: Washington D.C
Frequency: quarterly
Subject: Agriculture -- Research -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Agriculture -- Technology transfer -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Genre: federal government publication   ( marcgt )
periodical   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: U.S. Agency for International Development, Office of Agriculture, Bureau for Science and Technology.
General Note: Description based on: V. 3, no. 2 (spring 1991); title from caption.
Funding: Electronic resources created as part of a prototype UF Institutional Repository and Faculty Papers project by the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00071931
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 24071954
lccn - sn 91023533

Table of Contents
    Toward sustainable agriculture: A.I.D. charts a future course
        Page 1
        Page 2
    New device to measure underwater explosions may help prevent biological diversity loss
        Page 3
    Environmentally sound fertilizers for developing country agriculture
        Page 4
    Strategies for Sahelian watersheds
        Page 5
    Crop modelling computer programs help scientists predict rice yields
        Page 6
    Supplying essential plant biodiversity
        Page 7
        Page 8
Full Text
9l1 osis

U.S. Agency Office of Agriculture
for International Bureau for Science
Development & Technology


Toward Sustainable Agriculture: A.I.D. Charts

A Future Course
by Vincent Cusumano, Chief of the Economic Policy and Planning Division, Office of Agriculture, Bureau for
Science and Technology, U.S. Agency for Interna tional Development

Investments in agriculture are among
the principal development tools of the
U.S. Agency for International Develop-
ment (A.I.D.) to assist developing coun-
tries meet the food and income needs of a
growing population. Over $1.2 billion of
the Agency's $6.6 billion FY 1990 budget
was aimed at providing financial, techni-
cal assistance and food aid to increase the
income of the poor majority and expand
food availability and utilization while
maintaining and enhancing the natural re-
source base.
The promotion of broad-based and
environmentally sound economic growth
and elimination of hunger are two goals
sought by the Agency in its agricultural
development projects. Sustainable devel-
opment is an equally important goal.
Population pressure and income
growth are threatening the long-term ca-
pacity of the world's agricultural econo-
mies to continue to provide for the food
needs of a growing population. Since a
large part of the world's population
growth is taking place in developing
countries where both pressures on limited
resources and potential for income
growth are the greatest, A.I.D. promotes
and institutionalizes the concept of long-
term sustainability in making its agricul-
tural program decisions. This reinforces
the Agency's fundamental focus on the
needs of people and adds a complemen-
tary concept that whatever is supported
by A.I.D. must be sustainable over time.
Sustainable agriculture is defined as
the successful management of resources
(including soils, crops, water and fish,

livestock, forestry) to maintain and im-
prove their productive capacity over
time. The concept is dynamic. It includes
the need to consider the demands of fu-
ture generations on present programmatic
choices. And, it calls for decision making
that takes account of the natural resource
base as a condition for continued eco-
nomic growth.

The Setting
Agricultural sector development is
critical to the economy. It provides not
only food, fiber and fuel, but also em-
ployment, income and savings to a large
percentage of the population. Without a
growing and dynamic agricultural sector,
overall development lags behind. The
formulation of sound, sustainable agri-
culture policies requires an understanding
of prevailing conditions in developing
country agriculture.

Agricultural Production
Growth in total food production has
increased in both developed and coun-
tries during the forty year period ending
in 1990. In fact, total production increases
took place more rapidly in developing
countries than in developed nations. Ce-
real production (wheat, rice, coarse
grain), for example, increased from 1.3
billion metric tons to 1.8 billion metric
tons during 1971-1985.
When population growth is factored
in, the picture changes. Stated in per
capital terms, developing countries expe-
rienced only a 10 percent production in-
crease during the decades of the sixties

and seventies. The poorest countries in
Africa and the Near East actually experi-
enced no growth or a fall in per capital
food production since the mid-seventies.
Hunger and malnutrition are still prob-
lems. Income growth, which averaged
3.5 percent per year, has put additional
pressure on total food demands. Coun-
tries in Latin America, Asia and Africa
that were, at one time, exporters of cereal
grain are now finding themselves net im-
porters. Demand for agricultural com-
modities has also increased as a result of

Sustainable agriculture calls for decision
making that takes into account of the
natural resource base as a condition for
continued economic growth.


the accessibility of markets in Central
and Eastern Europe.
By the beginning of the eighties, food
imports through commercial and devel-
opment assistance channels began to play
an important role in the food balance of
trade in the developing world. Foremost
for many policy makers in developing
countries is the problem of how to obtain
food security from local sources, and, in
the food deficit countries, where to find
the foreign exchange for importing cereal
grains from North America and other in-
ternational markets. Increasing debts, and
balance of trade problems, however, are
limiting the ability of developing coun-
tries to import needed cereal grains.
Pressures are now mounting for expand-
ing the agricultural frontier into areas
which are marginal at best, often result-
ing in increased cost of production per
unit crop produced.

Environmental Impacts
Agricultural expansion and a produc-
tion-led orientation in modern agriculture
are often promoted with little regard for
the long-term sustainable use of the land.
Tropical forests (open and closed) are be-
ing removed at a worldwide rate of more
than 11 million hectares per year to cre-
ate new areas for cultivation and provide
fuelwood and timber needs. These ac-
tivities pose grave implications for the
loss of valuable biological and genetic re-
sources for future crop and forestry de-
velopment. Removal of forest cover and
inappropriate use and overexploitation of
crop and range lands contributes to high
annual rates of soil erosion (100 tons/
hectare in the highland regions of Guate-
mala and even higher in Haiti). Pollution
of surface and groundwater and other off-
site effects resulting from the over use of
pesticides and fertilizers are disrupting
hydrologic systems and cause extreme
damage to biological systems. In irri-
gated lands, salinization and waterlog-
ging are critical problems threatening
what used to be highly productive areas.

Technological Development
Increases in yield through technologi-
cal improvements, which either expand

production and often reduce per unit
costs, contribute to growth in world food
During the initial years of the Green
Revolution (1966-1978), for example,
yields in developing countries increased
significantly. However, high input re-
quirements of new crop varieties has lim-
ited their adoption in developing coun-
tries to those areas where irrigation or
high valued inputs are available. The cur-
rent rate of research spending will not re-
sult in a rapid technological breakthrough
for the more marginal and dryland areas
of the world. Although promising for fu-
ture application, such research efforts as
the improvement of photosynthetic effi-
ciency in plants through genetic changes
and developing cereal varieties which fix
nitrogen directly have not yet advanced
to the point where the technology can be
made available in developing countries.
Modem agriculture practices continue to
rely on sustained use of fertilizers, insec-
ticides and water.

Institutional Capacities
Effective institutional capacity in re-
search, training, extension and policy of
developing countries is critical for long-
term sustainable agriculture. Many devel-
oping country institutions--usually under-

staffed and underfunded are generally
unable to develop and implement sound
research and outreach programs. Farm-
ers, especially those on fragile lands,
have little access to technical informa-
tion. Lack of credit, financial incentives
and land tenure arrangements all contrib-
ute to inappropriate land use and long-
term resource degradation.

Other Factors
Lack of political stability in some de-
veloping countries is a deterrent to sus-
tainable agricultural development. Inap-
propriate economic policies also have a
negative influence on the resource use
decisions for agricultural production.

The A.I.D. Response
A.I.D. has taken a number of positive
steps to incorporate natural resource and
environmental concerns into develop-
ment programs, policy and planning. The
Agency is now putting into place a new
agricultural focus which establishes as a
goal, the long-term maintenance and en-
hancement of the natural resource base.
This includes efforts to establish sustain-
able farming systems that are capable of
responding to the changing conditions for
continuing gains in the economic and so-
cial welfare of the people in the develop-

Effective institutional capacity in research and training is critical for long-term sustainable


ing world.
The development of the Agency's
strategy for sustainable agriculture takes
into account a number of factors such as:
the need for a better understanding of
sustainable agricultural systems at all
levels in the developing world; the pro-
motion of biological diversity within
farming systems; a long-term commit-
ment to sustainable agriculture issues es-
pecially in those areas of the world where
environmental degradation is eroding the
productive capacity of the natural re-
source base; the need for policy support
for the concept of sustainability in agri-
cultural development; and the key role of
private sector participation in implement-
ing sustainable agriculture initiatives.
A.I.D. supports projects which pro-
mote stable agricultural production sys-
tems over time which are productive and
profitable. These systems minimize
downstream costs by reducing off-farm
contamination of air, water and land by
nutrients and toxic materials. Sustainable
agriculture efforts promoted by the Of-
fice of Agriculture in the Bureau for Sci-
ence and Technology help provide sup-
portive information and methodologies.
Long-term sustainability will become
an increasing part of A.I.D.'s agricultural
programs. The Agency will continue to
work closely with other institutions, both
public and private, to help developing
countries make maximum progress to-
ward implementing programs for sus-
tained agricultural development. A.I.D.
will strengthen its efforts to share infor-
mation on sustainable agriculture and to
promote coordination among donor agen-
cies to maximize interest in and program
funding for sustainable agriculture.
The development of an agriculture
sector which can continue to provide
food and incomes for the world's grow-
ing population is a major challenge.
A.I.D.'s leadership efforts in working to-
ward a viable strategy for integrating sus-
tainable agriculture concerns into its eco-
nomic development program will help
assure that not only are the world's food
needs are met today but that they are met
for generations to come. *

New Device to Measure Underwater

Explosions May Help Prevent

Biological Diversity Loss
by Dr. Saul Saila, International Center for Marine Resource Development,
University of Rhode Island

An unfortunate measure of man's ten-
ure on earth may be the large decrease in
biological diversity caused by his actions.
Large scale habitat conversion and
destruction is proceeding at different
rates in different regions and environments.
Tropical forests are estimated to be
decreasing more than 40,000 square
miles per year. The degradation of
coastal zones of the marine environment
may be occurring just as rapidly.
Over two thirds of the surface of the
planet is covered by ocean. The biota of
the oceans are essential to the structure
and function of the global ecosystem.
The global coastal zone covers about
eight percent of this planet's surface--
slightly more than the estimated six per-
cent area covered by tropical forests.
Over 50 percent of the human popula-
tion lives within or very near to coastal
zones which also yield some 90 percent
of the annual production of living re-
sources taken from the sea. The biologi-
cal diversity of this zone is very high as
indicated by the fact that of all living spe-
cies of vertebrates, the class which in-
cludes bony fishes contains the largest
number of species --more than 18,000
compared to a total of about 4,000 spe-
cies of mammals currently present on earth.
Tropical coral reefs and shallow wa-
ters (especially in Southeast Asia) con-
tain the most diverse fish assemblages in
the world, with over 2,000 species re-
ported on some reef areas.
The loss of biological diversity in the
marine coastal zone is a rapidly growing
concern, addressed, in part, by the A.I.D.,
Bureau for Science and Technology, Of-
fice of Agriculture Fisheries Develop-
ment Services Project. The project,
which has been active for about a year,
provides information on the conse-
quences of destructive fishing practices

(such as the use of explosives) in coral-
line and shallow marine environments of
the Philippines. It develops and tests
new methodologies for quantitatively as-
sessing changes in biological diversity in
such environments.

Using the data logger to collect blast fish-
ing data.

Blast fishing, which involves the use
of explosives to capture fish, is one of the
most common forms of illegal fishing in
the Lingayan Gulf in the Philippines. De-
structive fishing practices are common in
other parts of the Philippines as well as in
other developing nations. Blast fishing
can pose a serious threat to fishery re-
sources through habitat destruction and
reduction of species diversity.
The project has focused on the devel-
opment of techniques for quantifying the
frequency of blast fishing activities, and
the development of a mathematical
model to describe and predict the recov-
ery of fish assemblages in coral commu-
nities damaged as a result.
Because such fishing is illegal, it is
difficult to obtain accurate and precise
estimates of the magnitude of this activ-
ity. To obtain objective information on
the amount of blast fishing, a data-logger,
an instrument for measuring the frequency of
underwater explosions was developed.
continued on page 4....


....continued from page 3
The cylindrical data-logger is about
three inches in diameter and 18 inches in
height and can be placed underwater
where illegal fishing takes place. It can
operate completely unattended for up to
one week, will record underwater explo-
sions within a radius of about 1 kilometer and
save the records for further analysis.
The major components of the data
logger are an acoustic hydrophone, an in-
terface electronics board, a microcom-
puter board, battery pack and a water-
proof underwater housing. The instru-
ment is designed to function as an under-
water listening device with a software se-
lected threshold.
When an explosion exceeds the
threshold, the instrument's computer logs
the time, data and four consecutive ana-
log to digital conversions of the input
signal. Data stored in the memory of the
data logger can be transferred to any
compatible computer. A cable can be
connected from the instrument to a host
computer after recovery from deploy-
ment to allow discharge of data. The in-
ternal battery of the instrument is re-
charged overnight and the data logger
can then be redeployed.
Successful testing of the data logger
instrument has already been completed in
the Philippines.
Other aspects of research conducted
under the project include field studies to
estimate the magnitude of damage to
coral habitat by blast fishing, and the re-
covery rates of the coral environment. A
mathematical model for the recoloni-
zation of coral reef fish assemblages
from blast fishing is being developed to
provide information on the time rate of
recovery as well as the probable compo-
sition of the news assemblages of fish.
Further work on this project will in-
clude additional model development,
analysis of specific bio-responses of fish
and other marine organisms to underwa-
ter explosions and estimates of coral
growth rates. *

Environmentally Sound Fertilizers

for Developing Country Agriculture
by Marie K. Thompson, writer-editor, International Fertilizer Development Center,
Muscle Shoals, Alabama

There is growing concern that nitro-
gen fertilizers contribute to environmen-
tal degradation. Specifically, they can
lead to problems of nitrate water pollu-
tion, to pollution of the earth's atmo-
sphere with oxides of nitrogen and they
can potentially contribute to the "green-
house effect" or global warming.
When nitrogen, in either synthetic or
natural fertilizers, is applied at rates that
greatly exceed the amounts used by
plants, nitrate can move below the crop
rooting zone and may eventually con-
taminate ground waters. This is particu-
larly true on sandy soils receiving large
amounts of water through natural rainfall
or irrigation.
According to the Food and Agricul-
ture Organization of the United Nations
(FAO), some developed countries use as
many as 700 kilograms of synthetic fer-

tilizer per hectare of arable land, endan-
gering both the soil and water resource base.
The situation is vastly different in de-
veloping countries. For example, Afri-
can countries use an average of 11 kilo-
grams per hectare, Latin America nations
use 48 and Asian nations 62 kilograms--
not enough to restore the nutrient loss of
crop uptake, which FAO estimates to be
from 100 to 150 kilograms of plant nutri-
ents per hectare.
In South and Southeast Asia, rainfed
and irrigated transplanted rice occupies
nearly two-thirds of the agricultural area
and produces more than 80 percent of the
paddy rice. In these areas, prilled urea
conventionally applied by farmers is very
inefficiently used by transplanted rice
primarily because of serious losses of ni-
trogen (up to 60 percent of applied nitro-
gen) through loss as gases as well as

Use of urea supergranules, if widely adopted in the developing world, can help increase
food production in an environmentally sound manner.


leaching and/or runoff. This represents a
huge financial loss to rice farmers and is
a potentially serious problem for the en-
vironment and for sustainable agricul-
In 1975, the International Fertilizer
Development Center (IFDC) proposed
the use of large urea particles, commonly
referred to as urea supergranules (USG).
Deep placement of USG when followed
by immediate sealing of the holes left at
the placement sites helps retain nearly all
urea-nitrogen in medium-to-fine-textured
rice soils with low percolation rates.
For the past 13 years, with support
from A.I.D.'s Office of Agriculture in the
Bureau for Science and Technology,
IFDC has worked to evaluate and pro-
mote the effective use of USG as an effi-
cient nitrogen source for transplanted
lowland rice. The IFDC-developed USG
agrotechnology consists of an affordable
supply of the right kind of USG fertilizer and
an efficient methods for its deep placement.
In 1986-87, IFDC worked in Indone-
sia to test and modify a village level
briquetter for producing pillow-shaped
USG. (Briquetting, a special type of com-
pacting process, is a cost-effective
method for producing USG).
By the end of 1989, IFDC designed
and constructed an improved version of
the village-level briquetter with a capac-
ity of about 200 kilograms per hour. The
briquetter is currently undergoing tests to
examine its performance under continu-
ous operating conditions and to deter-
mine if it needs to be further developed
before making the technology available
outside IFDC. Estimates show that the
production cost of USG by briquetting
ranges from 5-10 percent more than that
of prilled urea.
To provide an efficient method for
deep placement of USG, IFDC has devel-
oped a plunger-type, completely hand-
operated polyvinyl chloride applicator.
Its proper use for mechanical deep place-
ment of urea briquettes in transplanted
rice will nearly eliminate all nitrogen
Field trials conducted in the Philip-
pines and India demonstrate that small-

Strategies for Sahelian Watersheds

by Neil Caudle, Program Coordinator for Communications, Soil Management
Collaborative Research Support Program (Trop Soils), University of North Carolina

Recognizing that sustainable agricul-
ture depends on a finely tuned harmony
of people, landscapes and technology, the
Soil Management Collaborative Research
Support Program has embarked on inno-
vative new research in an entire Sahelian
watershed. The goal of this effort, sup-
ported by A.I.D.'s Bureau for Science
and Technology, Office of Agriculture, is
to develop an integrated, comprehensive
management system that will help farm-
ers conserve resources as they increase
and sustain food production.
The watershed-495 hectares of pla-
teaus and sand valleys in western Niger--
is typical of many land-
scapes in the Sahel.
Wind and water erosion
threaten food crops,
which are primarily mil-
let and cowpea. Forty-
one families from four
villages depend on the
watershed for at least a part
of their subsistence.
So far, researchers
from Texas A&M Uni-
versity and their collabo-
rators from the Institut
National de Recherches
Agronomique du Niger
(INRAN) have inte-
grated baseline data on climate, vegeta-
tion, soils and indigenous technologies
into a geographic information system
(GIS), a useful tool for developing man-
agement strategies. The team has also de-
lineated five distinct "land management
units" in the watershed:
* Tondobon, a hardened, laterite plateau
that sheds rainfall quickly and provides
fuel, medicines and grazing;
* Tondo Kakasia, comprised of steep
slopes and eroded, crusted soils, supplying
medicinal herbs and construction material;
* Fondu, gentle slopes with dry, low-fer-
tility sands, used mostly for millet and
* Gangani Kirey, shallow, crusted soils

....continued on page 8

where grasses and shrubs are harvested
for construction material;
* Gorou, gullies and washes that carry
water and some nutrients from the pla-
teau into productive fields.
Because these units recur throughout
the Sahel, management systems that
prove successful in the watershed project
will be easily transferred to a large num-
ber of sites with similar characteristics.
And, by involving an entire watershed
and the people who use it, the project
takes an ambitious first step toward sus-
tainable agriculture--the necessary basis
for conserving natural resources and
meeting human needs. *

With A.I.D. support, an integrated, compre-
hensive management system in a water-
shed in Niger is helping farmers conserve
resources as they increase and sustain
food production.

For more information contact:
Neil Caudle,
North Carolina State University,
Department of Agricultural Communica-
tions, College of Agriculture and Life
Sciences, Box 7603 Raleigh, North Caro-
lina 27695-7603.
Telephone (919) 737-3173
Fax (919) 737-7191.


Crop Modelling Computer Programs Help

Scientists Predict Rice Yields

Scientists are developing computer
programs to help them predict how much
certain annual crops, such as rice, will
yield when grown in different soil types,
climates, or crop combinations.
Crop modelling is a relatively rapid
and inexpensive way to predict crop be-
havior because it reduces the need for ex-
perimentation. Scientists can simulate
production and water use in models to
evaluate new sites, crops, or management
techniques. Simulation models can estab-
lish the impact of year-to-year weather
variability on a crop much faster than
conventional methods. They are also use-
ful in helping scientists guide research.
"Yield predictions cannot be perfectly
precise because no one knows what the
weather, which has a great influence on
yield, will be like next months," says Dr.
F. Penning de Vries, a scientist at the In-
ternational Rice Research Institute (IRRI)
in the Philippines.
"Useful predictions of crop behavior
can only be made if the crop is well un-
derstood," adds Penning de Vries. "So
part of our work is to better understand

the crops we are developing models for."
A.I.D. is assisting in IRRI's efforts
and provides approximately 20 percent of
the core funding to the Institute.
For relevant predictions through crop
modelling, a scientist must feed into the
computer program data on the crop, his-
toric weather patterns, the presence of crop
pests, and availability of water and nutrients.
"Modelling is most useful for predict-
ing crop responses to new situations,
such as when opening new land areas,"
Penning de Vries says. "A farmer knows
from experience how his rice crop will
probably behave when he manages it in a
certain way. But he may not know what
to expect in a new situation, such as on
newly cultivated land, or when planting a
new variety or a new crop combination.
Crop modelling predictions can help ex-
tension workers inform farmers about ex-
pected crop performance.
Knowledge about crops is increasing,
more data bases are becoming available,
and computers are rapidly being intro-
duced into almost all countries, Penning
de Vries says. This means that crop simu-

lation can be used more readily by re-
search stations in developing countries.
Availability of skilled people is the
limiting factor for crop modelling. Train-
ing is, therefore, an important component
of the Simulation and Systems Analysis
for Rice Production (SARP) Project.
Some 90 scientists from nine Asian coun-
tries have already been trained in SARP.
The SARP project at IRRI works in
association with other institutes and uni-
versities, especially the Agricultural Uni-
versity at Wageningen in the Netherlands
and the University of Hawaii in the
United States. Scientists share the gener-
ated knowledge with colleagues in devel-
oping countries through training pro-
grams and other collaborative activities.
Scientists studying global climate
change use simulation models to predict
sea level rise with a temperature increase.
Crop modelling can also help breeders
design new plant types. With the ex-
pected increase in the carbon dioxide
content of the air, for example, what
changes should be made in the structure
of the rice plant to enable it to capture the ex-
tra carbon dioxide for increased growth?
Predictions about crop behavior are
being made not only for rice, but also for
other annual crops such as wheat, maize,
peanut, soybean, cowpea and mungbean.
"We thought we fully understood the
growth rate of rice, but experiments
showed that it can be 30 percent more
than expected under certain conditions,"
says Dr. M. Dingkuhn, IRRI crop physi-
ologist. "This could be because rice
plants use carbon dioxide from the soil,
as well as from the air. If so, this makes
rice an unusual plant and we will have to
investigate how we can exploit this pro-
cess further." *

This article is based on a recent news re-
lease by the International Rice Research
Institute, Manila, Philippines.

Predictions about crop behavior are made for rice (shown here) and other annual crops
such as wheat, maize, peanut, soybean, cowpea and mungbean.


Supplying Essential Plant Biodiversity

by Dr. George A. White, Plant Introduction Officer, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Vicki M. Binstock, Botanist,
University of Maryland

Date offshoots to Jordan and Paki-
stan, naked barley to Nepal, sweet pota-
toes to Taiwan, forage legumes to Mada-
gascar, fast-growing trees and strawber-
ries to Haiti and flowers to India are but a
few examples of plant diversity sent
around the world. Movement of such
plant materials occurs through the Plant
and Seed Materials Project. This joint
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-
A.I.D. project started in 1955 and is
implemented by the USDA's Plant Intro-
duction Office (PIO). The project's long
life reflects the continuous need for plant
biodiversity to develop improved crops,
new crops and innovative cropping sys-
tems that maximize yield, to conserve
soil and other natural resources, and to
improve the environment.
As part of the National Plant
Germplasm System (NPGS), the PIO
provides national coordination of the ex-
change of plant germplasm. Since this
activity encompasses almost all crops,
the PIO is in a unique position with its
national and international contacts to pro-
vide a wide range of plant materials
through the A.I.D.-funded project.
Dr. Jim Hooper of the Madagascar-
International Rice Research Institute
(IRRI) Rice Research Project, for ex-
ample, is utilizingthe Plant and Seed Ma-
terials Project to obtain various legumes
for planting after wetland rice.
The Plant and Seed Materials Project
has also provided trial quantities of a se-
ries of cultivars for several promising
species for the Save the Soil Project, an
A.I.D. supported effort in Haiti which
seeks to protect the diminishing soil re-
sources of the country and to provide
small farmers with increased revenues.
Leguminous plants are an integral aspect
of the techniques extended by the project
as they provide ground cover, fix nitro-
gen and produce nutritious feed for livestock.
Crotalaria (a legume used for fiber
and green manure in some countries)
seed of a cultivar developed by the Soil

Conservation Service of the USDA was
first obtained from commercial producers
in Hawaii. Initial observations indicated
a high biomass production within two-
three months. Crotalaria, therefore, ap-
peared amenable to the brief fallow peri-
ods between multiple cropping seasons.
The Plant and Seed Materials Project was
able to provide two additional cultivars
and a second species of Crotalaria. This
enabled the project to conduct more in-
tensive screening tests in an effort to find
the most adapted form of this new intro-
duction to Haiti.
The Plant and Seed Materials Project
was especially useful in providing trial

quantities of a series of cultivars for sev-
eral other promising species the project
in Haiti.
If you wish to request plant materials
and associated information through the
Plant and Seed Materials Project, you can
access these services through the local
USAID Mission Office, the Office of
Agriculture, Bureau for Science and
Technology, A.I.D. Washington, D.C.
20523-1809 or directly through the Plant
Introduction Office, USDA Agricultural
Research Center, Building 001, Room
322, 10300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville,
Maryland 20705-2350.

....continued on page 8

USDA's Plant Introduction Office provides national coordination for plant germplasm ex-


....continued from page 7

Using the Services of the Plant
Introduction Office

When using PIO services some tips to re-
member are:
* Be specific as to the crop species and
amount of seed and other propagative
materials needed, desired cultivars if
known, and date needed for planting.
* If familiar with a source of desired ma-
terials, provide the full address.
* When unfamiliar with cultivars or their
availability, indicate the most important
traits needed. Describe environmental
conditions such as elevation, annual pre-
cipitation, dryland or irrigated cropping,
soil type and pH, latitude and others as
relevant. PIO staff will consult with crop
specialists and collection curators to se-
lect the most appropriate materials.
* PIO staff honor the import regulations
of every country. Requestors are advised
to check quarantine requirements and, if
necessary, obtain an import permit which
should accompany the request. All ship-
ments of plant materials include
phytosanitary certificates.
* Seed sample size will vary roughly
from 100 to 1,000 grams each depending
on seed size, availability, and cost.
Grafted fruit trees and other perishable
vegetative materials can be provided in
quantities of two to 10 each depending
on availability, cost of purchase, and
shipping arrangements.
* Allow three to five weeks for most
seed shipments to be processed and addi-
tional time for delivery.
* Services are provided free of charge.
When quantities requested exceed PIO
limitations, addresses of reliable com-
mercial sources will be supplied.
* Be sure to include complete mailing
addresses and any special shipping ar-
rangements with your request. Most seed
shipments will be sent either by USAID
pouch or by air parcel post. For valuable,
highly perishable materials, shipment may
be by air express, air freight or hand carried.

....continued from page 5
scale rice farmers can use the applicator
profitably for nitrogen application at af
fordable rates and still achieve the same
high agronomic efficiency as that
achieved with the conventional hand
deep placement of USG.
The applicator is affordable, light-
weight, simple to construct, easy to use,
requires low draft power (about 4 kilo-
grams), and can save up to 40 percent of
the labor normally required for the hand
placement of USG. It also reduces the drudg-
ery of hand placing USG after transplanting.

If USG is widely adopted

in the developing world,

it can help increase

food production in an

environmentally sound


Results of recent field research in
Maharashtra State, India, showed that
when USG deep placement technology
was used, small farmers received an ad-
ditional income benefit of US $40 per
hectare with a benefit: cost ratio of about
five or more (anything above two is con-
sidered profitable) at a rate of 38 kilo-
grams nitrogen per hectare when com-
pared with traditional farmers' methods of
applying prilled urea.
In future research at IFDC, the poten-
tial of fertilizers to reduce environmental
problems will receive greater emphasis.
Application of fertilizer to the most pro-
ductive farmlands may help reduce the
encroachment of farming into marginal,
erodible, or fragile areas in developing
countries. It may also help reduce the
amount of slash-and-bur and shifting
agricultural practices, which are used in
developing countries to replenish nutri-
ents on very infertile soils. Supergranule

fertilizers may also play a key role in the
establishment of trees and shrubs in very
nutrientl-deficient areas where reveg-
etation is critically needed to reduce soil
erosion and desertification. *

Science & Technology Agricultural
Reporter (STAR) is published quar-
terly by the Office of Agriculture,
Bureau for Science and Technol-
ogy, U.S. Agency for International
Development (A.I.D.), Washington,
William Furtick
Agency Director
for Food and Agriculture

David D. Bathrick
Office of Agriculture (S&T/AGR)

STAR responds to a demand for
regular communications between
A.I.D.'s Office of Agriculture and a
worldwide audience. It provides
current information on collabora-
five research programs sponsored
by A.I.D. S&T/AGR. STAR's objective
is to increase professional effort,
and facilitate the transfer of agricul-
tural technology.

To submit articles on project ac-
complishments, request a compli-
mentary subscription, or offer sug-
gestions, please contact

Room 409D, SA-18
Washington, D.C. 20523-1809
Telephone (703) 875-4300

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