Drinkwater, Laurie : Seed Grant, 2013-2014


Laurie Drinkwater (Horticulture)

Project Title: 
Optimizing biological nitrogen fixation and nitrogen cycling in maize push-pull systems
Project Abstract: 
The long-term goal of this project is to develop a research program that will improve the management of biological nitrogen fixation and nitrogen cycling processes in push-pull systems so that maize yields can be increased. The seed grant will support travel to Kenya to meet with collaborators and plan research on biological nitrogen fixation in the push-pull systems, visit farms that are using the technology, and collect preliminary plant and soil samples for 15N natural abundance analysis. The push-pull technology involves intercropping cereals with a repellent plant, typically Desmodium, and also planting an attractive trap plant, for instance Napier grass, as a border crop around this intercrop. Today, more than 50,000 farmers in eastern Africa are practicing the push-pull technology on their farms, dramatically improving their cereal yields. Moreover, the technology enables small-scale farmers to venture into dairy cattle and goat keeping, as both desmodium and Napier grass are excellent fodder crops.