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Technical Demonstration: Natural Farming Pig System

From the ECHO Global Farm - North Fort Myers, FL

Deep Litter Pig System DemonstrationOne of the newest additions to the ECHO Global Farm is the Natural Farming Pig System located in the Tropical Lowlands area.

This component is based on the Natural Farming approach developed in East and Southeast Asia which focuses on harnessing the impact of beneficial microbes for enhancing both crop and animal production systems.


ECHO's Natural Farming Pig System is comprised of a deep-litter pig pen in which hogs are raised atop a one-meter deep layer of bedding comprised mostly of sawdust, rice husks and ground charcoal. By excluding the rain and preventing excessive spillage of feed and water, the bedding remains minimally moist, offering pigs relief from the heat. The bedding is also great for pigs to burrow into when they are cold.  Microbes in the bedding (enhanced by periodic sprays of IMO solution) break down wastes which are incorporated into the litter by the rooting of the animals.

After eight to 12 months of use, the nutrient-rich litter can be removed for application as compost on the farm.

The pigs are fed twice a day with silage made from sliced banana stalks fermented with small amounts of brown sugar and salt.  The silage stores well for over a week, eliminating the need to harvest, slice and boil the banana stalks on a daily basis as is commonly practiced in Southeast Asia.  The ECHO silage ration is mixed with a much smaller amount of commercial pig feed and fed along with excess ECHO fruit, vegetables and forage. Less reliance on commercial feed lowers overall production costs. Observations at ECHO Asia regarding pigs raised on balanced silage-based diets is that they tend not to be excessively fat, instead developing into "sturdy lean" hogs...

Read the full story including benefits of the system, lessons learned, and links to related resources on the ECHOcommunity Update Blog.

Resource Spotlight: Agricultural Prosperity in Dry Africa

From 2001 to 2011 author Dov Pasternak was head of Crops and Systems Diversification at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) Sahelian Center in Niger.In this book Professor Pasternak shares insights from his lifelong work in international agriculture and specifically the dry areas of West Africa and Israel.

Agricultural Prosperity in Dry Africa contains a wealth of practical suggestions for dealing with the problems facing dryland farmers in Africa. He discusses crops, strategies, and technologies that lead to increased production and income for farmers with limited resources.

The entire book is available for download from ECHOcommunity.

ECHOcommunity is the online member network of ECHO, an organization that equips people with agricultural resources and skills to reduce hunger and improve lives worldwide. contains resources for development practitioners looking for training, technical documentation, research and seeds. Here you will find a wealth of practical and tested information to help improve efficiency, productivity and nutritional diversity in sustainable agriculture with a focus on smallholder farmers in the developing world. Through this community, ECHO staff and network members from around the world collaborate to provide solutions to both common and unique challenges in sustainable agricultural development.

Looking For Information on the ECHO Global Farm in Florida?

General information about ECHO as an organization, tours, internships, donations, the nursery, and bookstore can be found at

Latest ECHO Publications

  • Just Arrived

    ECHO Technical Note Issue 80 

    Seed Fairs: Fostering Local Seed Exchange to Support Regional Biodiversity

    When you come across an especially promising local variety of a crop grown in your area, how can you enable other farmers to try out this variety? If a farmer gives you 30 seeds of an exceptional variety, how might you go about distributing these? How does seed flow happen in and among communities where you work?

    In this article, we share about ECHO Asia’s experience helping host four very different seed fairs. We also outline several important components of a seed fair, so you can learn from our experience if your organization is interested in hosting one.

    [ All ECHO Tech Notes ]

    ECHO Development Notes Issue 125 

    Also Available In [ French ] and [ Spanish ]

    Worldwide, the number of insect pollinators has declined sharply in recent years. Beekeepers have experienced heavy loss of honey bee colonies; in the United States,the number of managed colonies is half of what it was sixty or seventy years ago. This issue of ECHO Development Notes focuses on preventing the loss of key pollinators and how they can be effectively attracted and reintegrated into agricultural systems.

    In this issue, the ECHO Florida Seed Bank provides a list of seeds available that can serve to encourage beneficial insects as well as tips and suggestions for impelemeting them effectively.

    [ All ECHO Development Notes ]
  • New Translations: Mandarin & French

    ECHO is pleased to make available, in Mandarin and French, our Best Practices Note on Institutional Gardens. [ BPN 4: Mandarin ] [ BPN 4: French ]

    ECHO Best Practice  Notes Issue 4 

    This Best Practices Note explores common pitfalls and challenges related to design and implementation of an institutional agriculture project. It also outlines proven principles and practices that a development practitioner can implement in a variety of settings.

    Although many new institutional agriculture projects are started every year, few produce the expected positive results that were imagined during planning and implementation. The reasons for this lack of success are varied, but upon careful analysis, some common themes emerge.

    [ All ECHO Best Practice Notes ]
  • New Translation: Spanish

    ECHO Technical Note Issue 34 

    Now Available In [ Spanish ] and [ English ]

    Originally published in 1998 this is part of ECHO's ongoing efforts to bring important resources to more languages. We are please to announce that ECHO Technical Note 34 - Banana, Coconut & Breadfruit by Dr. Frankln W. Martin is now available in Spanish.

    This technical note describes the propagation and care of three outstanding fruits that are particularly important in feeding people. These fruits produce a lot of food for a minimum of effort and  are practically staple fruits of the tropics.

    [ All ECHO Tech Notes (English) ]
  • ECHO Asia Notes Issue 20

    Farm-Generated Feed: Fish Feed Production | Producing the Biocontrol Fungi Trichoderma and Beauveria

    [ All ECHO Asia Notes ]
  • ECHO East Africa Notes Issue 3

    Linking Small Scale Farmers to Markets through a Value Chain Approach and the Role of Information and Communications Technology (ICT)

    [ All ECHO East Africa Notes ]

Upcoming Conferences and Networking Opportunities

The Events Calendar lists all scheduled ECHO network events by date. [ See All ]

  • Tropical Agricultural Development Course I - North Fort Myers, Florida - USA

    January 19 - 23, 2015

    Courses at Level I are designed for those interested in preparing for short/long term involvement in agricultural development internationally. TAD II Courses are geard toward experienced overseas workers and nationals with involvement in agricultural development or those who have already participated in TAD I. [ more information ]

  • Un Forum Ouest Africain - Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

    French Language Only - ECHO West Africa Forum (English language conference coming later in 2015)

    27-29 Janvier 2015 (Remarque: changement de date)

    Ce forum de ECHO vise le renforcement d'un réseautage au profit des personnes luttant contre la faim, la pauvreté et servant les pauvres en Afrique. Des sessions plénières seront conduites pendant trois matinées par des personnes ressources et seront suivies par des ateliers de l'après-midi. [ plus d'informations ]

  • ECHO Asia Biopest Control Workshop - Chiang Mai, Thailand

    January 28-29, 2014

    This workshop will include sessions on integrated pest management (IPM) using natural bioproducts, hands-on training covering the use and production of Beauveria and Trichoderma, the creation of and production of natural pesticides with Southeast Asian herbs, a visit to the Biopest Control Office’s breeding sites for predatory and parasitic insects, and a field trip to a local village to learn about their community biopest control management program. [ more information ]

  • East Africa Symposium - Arusha, Tanzania

    Those who register before 1 January, 2015 receive a $30 discount.

    3-5 November, 2015

    The East Africa Symposium will be a valuable time of learning, information sharing and networking for those working and serving in the East Africa Region. This event will be held at the Naura Springs Hotel in Arusha.[ More Information ]

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1/27/2015 » 1/29/2015
Forum Ouest Africain/West Africa Networking Forum 2015

2/3/2015 » 2/5/2015
East Africa Symposium 2015