Soil Science prof. sees benefits for all from Ethiopian project
As his six-year project to help Ethiopia with its serious problems with agricultural land degradation approaches its final year, Soil Science Adjunct Professor Dr. Ahmet Mermut is pleased and proud of the beneficial effects it is having for the U of S and a number of Agriculture students.
The CIDA-funded 'Low-Input Sustainable Agriculture (LISA) project', has U of S Soil Science faculty working with four universities and national labs in Ethiopia on that country's agricultural over-use on marginal lands.
Mermut explains that this allows for a few Ethiopian students to visit the U of S, and a few U of S students to travel to Ethiopia. Most recently, three U of S students spent June 15-July 28 in a study-abroad experience as part of the LISA project. Angela Taylor, Nick Flaman and Paul Jungnitsch worked with Ethiopian resource people as well as with four U of S Soil Science faculty looking at declining soil productivity in the Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia. This included working with test crops of maize, haricot beans, and tef, studying the value of leaving plant residue on the crops rather than the Ethiopian practice of using it for livestock feed and house construction.
"The idea is that this low-input method of increasing agricultural production may be a better fit," Mermut says.
He adds the U of S can share its expertise in dryland agriculture with developing nations like Ethiopia, and at the same time students benefit.
"I'm still very excited about the project," he says.