Tiyeni's methods help farmers deal with the effects of climate change, by making crops and soils more resilient and retaining and storing water underground far more effectively during hot and dry periods. This becomes increasingly important as the effects of climate change in Malawi are felt in the increasingly unreliable rainfall patters. In the past, once the ‘wet season’ started, it would continue throughout the crop growing period. However, now it is noticeable how after this rainfall pattern is interrupted by a two to three week dry spell, at the critical stage of crop growth.
Deep Bed Farming (DBF) combats this challenge to good crop growth by increasing the amount of water held in the soil and sub soil, reducing the surface area of the soil (thereby reducing evaporation), increasing the depth of the growing medium (the soil), covering the soil surface with mulch (keeping it cooler and further reducing evaporation), adding compost at different stages (enhancing the quality of the soil and its structure to hold more moisture), planting companion and ground cover crops (to further add to the above components).
However, there is also widely published evidence that soils, properly treated and respected, can directly help mitigate climate change too. They can absorb and store large amounts of carbon, extracted from CO2 in the atmosphere, via the plants and other organisms they support. Plant cells in leaves, stems and roots are built from carbon, and when the roots penetrate more deeply into the soil, which is the fundamental aim of Tiyeni's farming practices, they carry carbon down with them where it stays underground. Furthermore, we encourage farmers to use plant residues as mulch and as organic matter to feed back into the soil, rather than burning them off according to traditional practices.
Tiyeni joined a panel of soil experts for a webinar, titled Farming in the World of Shifting Weather Patterns, with partner organisation The Soil Food Web School. Tiyeni Chair, Colin Andrews, joined Dr. Mary Cole and Dr . Elaine Ingham.
Watch again below to see Dr. Ingham's take on Tiyeni’s compost recipe and fascinating reminders that what we cannot see is so important to our lives. You can also pick up a great tip from Dr. Cole for a ‘hot stick’ thermometer.
Colin Andrews speaks about the dramatic change to weather patterns in sub-Saharan Africa over the last 20-30 years and the climate smart features of Deep Bed farming, as a method that has been developed in this context.