General Technical Documents are resources made available through that are not currently part of an ECHO periodical publication such as ECHO Development Notes or ECHO Technical Notes. These resources may or may not be published by ECHO, but have been made available to the ECHOcommunity as online, sharable resources.

43 Issues in this Publication (Showing 11 - 20) |

Earthbag House Construction Guide

This document presents  key steps the ECHO Asia staff used to build an Earth Bag Seed Storage House on the new ECHO Asia Small Farm Resource Center in Thailand.

Farmer Own Soil Fertility Analysis

Four nutrient deficiencies--phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen, and magnesium--can be diagnosed by observing maize leaves. This document includes photos of a healthy maize leaf and of maize leaves demonstrating each of these nutrient deficiencies. It also contains suggestions for how to address each type of deficiency.

“Push and Pull” in Combatting Fall Army Worm and Witchweed (Striga)

In the Push-Pull system, crops that repel pests and/or attract pests’ predators are intercropped with maize, to ‘push’ pests away from the main crop. Plants that attract pests are planted around the field, to ‘pull’ pests away from the maize. Incorporating legumes in this system means that soil fertility gradually increases over time. 

This brief also explains how a farmer in Mozambique managed her pigeon pea plants to repel fall armyworms. She tried sowing maize between pigeon pea plants that, after a previous season’s growth, were cut to a height of 50 cm and allowed to regrow. For reasons explained in the brief, this worked better than starting pigeon pea from seed each season. 

How to Process Jack bean (and other types of beans) as human food

Jack bean is an excellent plant for enriching soil, because it grows under very difficult conditions. However, the beans contain toxins that normally make them unsuitable for human consumption. This document describes how to germinate jack bean to remove the toxins and increase the beans’ nutrition. Germinated beans also cook more quickly, saving time and money. [Note: Feed the Future also has a more extensive document on this subject, which we hope to summarize in a future issue of EDN.]

Green Manure/Cover Crop approach in RAMA-BC

This document distinguishes between ‘anchor’ cover crops (that are intercropped with a main crop such as maize) and ‘secondary’ cover crops (that don’t compete with the main crop because they have a short life cycle, and that can help cover the soil at the start of the growing season). The document also includes short summaries of five cover crops: jack bean, pigeon pea, lablab beans, cowpeas, and mung beans. 

Minimal Soil Disturbance and its Effect on Soil Moisture Availability

This short document contains graphs that show how zero tillage leads to increased water infiltration and increased water retention in soil. 

Wicking Bed / 100 Fold Garden

This document was provided by Lance Edwards as an outline of the process of building a 100 Fold Vegetable Garden using Foundation for Farming principles.  He includes a description of wicking bed technology by Colin Austin

The irrigator’s dilemma

If the irrigator applies frequent but shallow irrigations much of the water will be lost by evaporation. Applying deeper but less frequent irrigations is more efficient but can easily lead to loss of water past the root zone, valuable nutrients and can cause environmental pollution.

The wicking bed is a solution to this problem. In its simplest form a water reservoir catches any excess water from above ground irrigation and feeds it back to the plants as they use the water. In more advanced versions water is fed directly to this reservoir so all the plants water needs are supplied from the reservoir by wicking action. 

The essential feature of the wicking bed system is the water reservoir filled with a coarse aggregate which is saturated with a significant volume of water which is not held tightly by surface tension. This water is free to wick up to the layer of soil containing the root zone. This contrasts with the traditional system in which a much smaller volume of water is held in the soil below the root zone.

The restraining surface tension forces in this soil mean there is very limited ability to wet the soil in the root zone above.

Maize Armyworm and Stalk Borer Scouting - 2018-04-20

The introduction of Fall Armyworm (FAW) (Spodoptera frugiperda) to Africa in 2016 has raised concerns of possible widespread damage of maize and other crops. Stalk borers are a common pest of maize throughout Africa, causing modest damage virtually every year. Armyworms, on the other hand, can devastate maize and other crops if not controlled at a young age. Because of this big difference in damage potential, it is important to identify these pests early in their life cycle.