ECHO Tech Notes are subject-specific publications about topics important to those working in the tropics and subtropics. Our material is authored by ECHO staff and outside writers, all with experience and knowledge of their subject. These documents are free for your use and will hopefully serve a valuable role in your working library of resources in agricultural development!

92 Issues in this Publication (Showing issues 64 - 55) |

TN #64 Fish Farming: Basics of Raising Tilapia & Implementing Aquaculture Projects - 2010-07-01

Fish farming can generate high interest and excitement. It has great potential to produce high quality protein in relatively short time periods and in small areas. Fish farming is one way that resource poor farmers throughout the world can provide protein that is often lacking in the family diet and too expensive to purchase.

This technical note is about raising tilapia in earthen ponds because tilapia are the second most commonly raised fish in the world and are appropriate for resource poor farmers in tropical areas.

This technical note is also aimed at people working in rural areas with resource poor farmers in low income areas. Hopefully this information can assist in planning and establishing fish farming projects.

The basics of fish farming are presented here with recommendations and advice in establishing projects. Several case studies, stories, and examples from Africa are used as illustrations. References are given for more detailed information. There are many good “how to” manuals written on fish farming that can be accessed as additional resources.

TN #63 Seed Saving: Steps & Technologies - 2010-06-01

Seeds naturally have a place in almost any endeavor having to do with agricultural development. Seeds of most food plants are small and, as such, are more easily transported and can be shipped longer distances than vegetative cuttings. For the farmer, seeds represent the promise of a continued supply of food.

As with any development “tool,” however, seeds can be misused. For instance, distributing improperly stored seeds that germinate poorly could expose farmers to risk of crop failure.

This technical note, therefore, is written to help ensure the best handling and use of seeds in development work. It will answer questions about seed grow-out, storage, seed germination testing, and useful publications.

TN #62 Treadle Grindstone - 2010-01-01

This treadle grindstone can spin a 6” abrasive wheel (of the type used on electric tool grinders) at up to 3000 rpm by means of a single treadle operated by the person using the grinder. Although rotational speed is similar to electric grinders, power is lower therefore short or light grinding passes must be taken. This tool may be a good addition to a shop where electricity is not available. 

What’s Inside:

  • Operating the Grinder
  • Maintenance
  • Disassembly
  • Drive Rope
  • Direction of Rotation
  • Improving the Grindstone
  • Grinding Wheel Speed
  • Dimensioned Drawings

TN #61 PVC Water Pumps - 2010-01-01

The purpose of this document is to show several water pump designs constructed from PVC pipe, explain how to manufacture them, and discuss pump performance and how to improve on these designs. 

What’s Inside:

  • Pump Design
  • Manufacturing Process
  • Pump Performance
  • Appendix

TN #60 The Farmer Managed Agro-forestry Farming System (FMAFS) - 2010-01-01

Farming communities in the semi-arid tropical regions of Africa are becoming particularly vulnerable and face enormous challenges for their survival. Climate change, diminishing and unreliable rainfall, traditional mono culture cropping farming practices, high population growth, frequent famines and high de-forestation rates have led to severe environmental degradation and impoverished soils. This has resulted in poor crop yields, high malnutrition rates and extreme poverty.

In this article, I would like to present an integrated farming system developed in the Maradi region of Niger, which has a semi-arid environment with 450 mm annual rainfall and a growing season from June to September. This farming system is showing promise for overcoming the main limitations to farming in the semi-arid tropics, and has potential for replication in other semi-arid regions of the World.

 

TN #59 Vegetables for SW Florida in the Summer Months - 2009-01-01

Within a couple days after Bonnie and I arrived in Florida in June 1981 to assume my new role as founding CEO of ECHO, I began digging a garden. For an avid gardener used to the long winters “up north” this was an exciting adventure.  I was going to grow flowers and vegetables year-round in the Garden of Eden itself - at least something very close to it. Or so I thought...

SW Florida’s hot, humid summers have a lot in common with rainforest conditions, minus the shade of tall trees and of course with less total rainfall and not quite as high humidity.  So it is not surprising that some of the standard vegetables in ECHO’s summer gardens originated in tropical rainforests and hot, humid lowlands.  Other important vegetables have originated in countries where there are perhaps six months without rain and six months that are like our summers. I have chosen vegetables for this document that I believe have a reasonably good chance of producing in the summer, but sometimes they still disappoint you.

What’s Inside:

  • Introduction 
  • A Look at Perennial Vegetables
  • ECHO’s Guide to Summer Garden Vegetables
    • Edible Leaves and Shoots
    • Fruiting Vegetables
    • Tubers and Corms
    • Beans
       

 

TN #58 Tropical Rabbit Production: A Guide to Raising Rabbits with Few Resources - 2009-03-01

Rabbits are animals for folks that like to eat meat and want to raise it quickly. Rabbits reproduce quickly; up to eight bunnies every three months. A young rabbit can weigh four pounds in three months -- bigger than a broiler chicken. Rabbits are easy to raise, both in urban and rural areas. They don’t take up much space. Rabbits are a popular meat in Europe, China, and the Americas. Anyone who raises rabbits will never lack for meat for their table and will realize other benefits. Have you considered raising rabbits?

TN #57 An Introduction To Soil Fertility - 2009-01-20

All plants need certain mineral elements for proper growth, development, and maintenance. The basic structure of all organisms is built of carbon (C), oxygen (O) and hydrogen (H). Plants obtain these elements from water (H2O) in the soil and carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air, so no input is required beyond being sure the plant has an adequate water supply to meet its needs. Turning the H2O and CO2 into organic building blocks, however, is a complex process that requires the assistance of at least 13 other elements.

Three elements, nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), are required in relatively large quantities and are referred to as primary or macronutrients. N is an important component of all protein, so is integral to the plant structure. P is a minor component of protein, but is integral to the molecules that control energy flow within the plant and is a component of genetic material. The role of K seems to be in maintaining the correct salt concentration in the plant sap. N, P, and K, in varying ratios, are the primary constituents of all chemical fertilizers. Depending on the fertilizer origin, their amounts present may be expressed as N, P2O5, and K2O.

What's inside:

  • Introduction
  • How do I tell whether the soil contains what a plant needs?
  • What deficiency symptoms should I be looking for?
  • How do I assure that nutrient supplies in soil are maintained?
  • Relationship of cropping systems and soil fertility
  • Bibliography

 

TN #56 Lagos Spinach - 2007-01-01

In a world where hunger and poverty are issues with a large percentage of the population, technology and education are wanting, and agricultural resources are often scarce, a farmer is thankful for low-maintenance crops that will grow with a minimal input of effort and resources. Lagos spinach (Celosia argentea) is such a crop. A little-known, underexploited leafy vegetable, C. argentea is a crop that is easy to plant, grows in most climates and soils, withstands drought and heat, has few problems with pests and disease, is easy to prepare, highly nutritious and tastes good, and produces large quantities of seed. One might wonder why such a plant is so little known!

TN #55 A-Frame Level - 2006-01-01

The A-Frame Level is a simple, yet accurate tool used for constructing contours on a hillside or slope. It is useful in the basic construction of hillside farming systems, such as the SALT systems, as well as for establishing level contours and drainage ditches. Level contours on a slope reduce erosion, increase water infiltration, protect slopes and facilitate reclamation of degraded hillsides. The A-Frame Level can also be used to determine the percent slope of a hillside. This document provides the basic instructions for constructing and using an A-Frame Level.

What’s Inside:

  • Materials for Construction
  • Assembly of A-Frame
  • Calibration of A-Frame
  • Marking Contour Lines
  • Measuring a Slope
  • Useful Resources