A study reported in the Sept 2022 journal Agronomy for Sustainable Development evaluates reversing soil degradation by introducing conservation practices. A number of paired fields (comparing improved vs traditional practices) in Ethiopia (23 farms), Kenya (23 farms), and Tanzania (13 farms) were assessed using a participatory approach where farmers and field technicians collected data for a variety of Woods End-type and Cornell-type soil parameters. Fields in each comparison had validated practices in a range of 2 – 7 years. The original Basal version of Solvita (undisturbed non-lab processed soil) was compared to changes in soil color and aroma and other soil health parameters, distinguishing at a high level of statistical significance plots, regions, and years. Plant growth parameters included assessing above-ground and below-ground performance, color, and root-quality characteristics. The researchers found that ” Solvita microbial respiration was interestingly very consistent throughout the study, with higher levels observed for CA in all three regions in the last 2 years of the study”. In Tanzania, a lower response of soils to Conservation methods was speculated to be related to the sand or loamy sand texture of the soils.
Overall the study provides a rich variety of results and builds on-farm participatory approaches that stress indigenous farmer knowledge in the assessment of new practices. It also reveals the great applicability of the Solvita semi-portable, field kit process which provides visual and quantifiable results that are easily performed by field workers with suitable methodological oversight. [ The study is found at ASD (https://doi.org/10.1007/s13593-022-00824-1) ].