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700-year-old West African soil technique could mitigate climate change

700-year-old West African soil technique could mitigate climate change

A soil technique is an extremely important aspect of climate sustainability, says researchers from the University of Sussex. The anthropologists and soil scientists led their global study for identification and analysis rich fertile soils found in Liberia and Ghana. The scientists revealed that the 700-year-old farming technique practised for centuries in West Africa could mitigate climate change.

The old-fashion technique of farming, which during the centuries have used the West African villagers, could be an answer to the climate changing. According to the latest researches, Africans convert nutrient-poor rainforest soil into fertile farmland in the most nature-friendly way. Such 700-year-old farm behaviour existed in the ancient West Africa, this method based on the adding the charcoal and kitchen waste to highly weathered, nutrient poor tropical soils. This type of soil easily transforms the land into enduringly fertile, carbon-rich black soils –so-called ‘African Dark Earths’.

Researchers have analysed 150 sites in north-west Liberia and 27 sites in Ghana and found out that these extremely fertile soils contain 200-300 percent more organic carbon than other soils. Of course, such a rich soil is capable of supporting far more intensive farming. According to the Professor James Fairhead (University of Sussex), who initiated the study:

“Mimicking this ancient method has the potential to transform the lives of thousands of people living in some of the most poverty and hunger stricken regions in Africa. More work needs to be done but this simple, effective farming practice could be an answer to major global challenges such as developing ‘climate smart’ agricultural systems which can feed growing populations and adapt to climate change.”

Full publication and details about 700-year-old West African soil technique and its influence on the climate changing are available in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Environment.