Agriculture and Environment Foundation supports intern

December 12, 2010 posted on ICARDA weblog

Lona van Delden, a German student from Friedrich-Wilhelms-University in Bonn, is doing a 3-month Internship at ICARDA working on conservation agriculture research together with Drs Colin Piggin and Rolf Sommer. This work is linked to the ACIAR-AusAID Project on Development of Conservation Cropping in Iraq and Syria, which is investigating how and why crop yields and soil physical and chemical properties are improved in zero tillage systems, where crops are sown with minimal soil disturbance (i.e., no plowing) and retention of soil-surface stubble from previous crops, in comparison to local conventionally – cultivated systems.
Lona has helped to commission a new elemental analyzer in the Soil laboratory and is defining organic matter, phosphorus, nitrogen and carbonate fractions. Measurements on water infiltration are being undertaken using the single ring method for rapid measurement of field-saturated hydraulic conductivity. Lona’s work will help understand moisture, organic matter and nutrient dynamics in zero till systems, which have been little researched in the region but are proving attractive and being taken up widely by farmers as a result of the project. After her stay in Syria she will start her master thesis about soils of arid regions in South Africa.
Support for her came from the Agriculture and Environment Foundation, founded in 2005 by Marlene and Jürgen Diekmann (Ausgleichsstiftung Landwirtschaft und Umwelt). The foundation is concerned with support of projects, research and practical, aiming at compensation of the impact of human activities on the environment by agronomic practices, like e.g. carbon sequestration. Support of CGIAR projects is expressively included in the charter of the foundation.
Ajay Varadachary, ICARDA, Aleppo, Syria


Christoph Leibing, University of Hamburg

analyzed data of two tropical pine tree species from August 2008 to March 2009. A paper was presented at the Annual Research Conference on Food Security, Natural Resource Management and Rural Development (Tropentag) in Hamburg.

Abstract (Paper at Tropentag Hamburg, October 6-8, 2009)

Adaptation of Tropical and Subtropical Pine Plantation Forestry to Climate Change: Climate Proofing Seed Material of Pinus patula and Pinus tecunumanii


Pinus patula and Pinus tecunumanii, two pines native from Mexico and Central America are important plantation species for the forestry sector in the (sub)tropics. In the last decades members of the International Tree Conservation & Domestication Program (CAMCORE), North Carolina State University, have established large multi site provenance trials for these pine species. The data provide valuable information about species and provenance choice for plantation establishment in many regions with different climates. However, since climate is changing rapidly, it might become increasingly difficult to choose the right species and provenance to plant. The aim of the study is to test the suitability of seed material under changing climate of two P. patula var. patula and P. patula var. longipedunculata, and two P. tecunumanii ecotypes (highland and lowland). For each variety and ecotype, a site growth model was developed that statistically relates growth with environmental factors and couples the predictions to the average 2020 climate prediction of four general circulation models. Three developed models were significant and robust. Provenances of P. tecunumanii from lowland areas in Central America are expected to be most productive in 2020 because of their promising performance under rather hot and wet climates. Intraspecific diversity did matter in the case of P. tecunumanii growth. Provenances of the low area populations grew faster than those from high altitudes, and especially outperformed P. tecunumanii high altitude provenances and P. patula provenances when the climate becomes warmer and wetter. The results also show that in some regions the most suitable planting material today is not necessarily the most suitable in 2020, around the time of harvesting.