The Causes

  • Soil erosion
  • Water loss
  • Burning
  • Soil compaction
  • Falling soil fertility

Breaking up compacted soil is critical

The Solution

  • Contour ridges with closed ends
  • Decompaction of "hoe pan"
  • Deep and wide beds thereafter with zero tillage
  • Soil never re-compacted
  • Mulching not burning
  • All rainfall held on the land to infiltrate the soil

Deep and wide beds, with closed ends

The Effect

  • Ever increasing soil fertility
  • Food security in rural villages
  • Surpluses provide farm income
  • Foreign Food Aid programmes reduced

A healthy harvest leads to food security 

Tiyeni Step-by-step

Stage Activity Detail Benefit
1 Create the marker ridges By careful measurement using line levels, the marker ridges are created exactly on the contour lines at intervals down the slope This method gives a really clear line to work with and will prevent water running downhill
2 Reinforce the marker ridges Vetiver grass is a noninvasive deep-rooted grass planted to stablilise the marker ridge.  On slopes, this creates a "dam". Vetiver grass is a miracle plant used throughout the developing world and is essential to help to create stable marker ridges and mulching opportunities
3 Create the holding ditch Above the marker ridge a ditch 0.5 metres wide with closed ends becomes a holding reservoir after heavy rain This stops erosion, and by holding the water above the bed, allowing the water to reach the crop roots through slow percolation into the subsoil
4 Breaking the "hard pan" At 1 hoe depth where land has been continuously farmed, the hard pan under the topsoil will be broken up with forks and pick axes creating a deeper topsoil The hard pan stops water and crop roots from going deeper. By breaking it up there is less chance of erosion and the crops with deeper roots will be more robust to deal with a dry spell
5 Making the deep beds Deep beds 1m wide are created reducing evaporation. They will never be trodden on again, and by raising footpaths for access, the paths do not become a channel for water to run downhill. The old ridge and furrow method has a high surface area leading to evaporation. Digging each year is not necessary if the soil is not trodden on.  Wherever footpaths are created, the water rund downhill and erosion is created
6 Planting the beds The beds are wide enough for 2 rows of maize and for interplanting of other crops.  The interplanting creates "Green Manure Cover Crops" to enhance soil fertility and reduce the chances of minor erosion from rainfall. Inter-planting can complement the crops and help with pests and diseases. Yields are significantly higher and last longer.  Nitrogen fixing green manure crops add fertility to the soil and keep it cooler and damper
7 Weeding and mulching The weeds are cut or pulled up and laid on the surface. Crop residues and chopped vetiver grass are also laid as mulch. Nothing is ever burned Reduces evaporation and soil heat and builds organic content of the soil. Weeding is lighter work than digging. Whole families can help. Dead roots of cut weeds allow the soil to "breathe".
8 Companion planting Maize is interspersed with beans, pumpkin, kale, soya, ground nuts and other local crops making full use of the wide beds, extending the harvest season The legumes nitrogenate the soil, consecutive cropping lengthens the cropping season and increases food variety and nutrition
9 Composting Excess foliage, crop residues, ash, charcoal, maize husks etc are made into compost with additives where soil is depleted. Animal (nitrogenous) waste is added to help the composting process. As produce is being taken from the land in the form of food it is essential that nutrients are replenished and balanced through composting.  The recipe for Bokash is successful as it only takes 21 days to be ready for application
10 Pigs or Goats Each village is given a pig/goat by Tiyeni and and the progeny are given to farmers within the village. The animal waste is used as an essential component of compost. This programme binds the village together as all are interested in the successful breeding programmes.  The pass on programme spreads exponentially