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Creating synergies between conservation agriculture and cattle production in crop-livestock farms: A study case in the lake Alaotra region of Madagascar

Andriarimalala J.H., Rakotozandriny J.D.N., Andriamandroso A.L.H., Penot E., Naudin K., Dugué P., Tillard E., Decruyenaere V., Salgado P.. 2013. Experimental Agriculture, 49 (3) : p. 352-365.

DOI: 10.1017/S0014479713000112

Conservation agriculture (CA) has been promoted as a strategy to cope with deterioration in soil fertility, but its adoption on smallholder farms in tropical areas remains limited. In Madagascar, livestock production is facing shortages in forage especially during the dry season. The value of cover crops used in CA as livestock feed could be an incentive to make this form of agriculture more acceptable in rural areas. To do so, farmers must find a trade-off between the use of biomass from cover crops for animal production and its maintenance on the soil to meet CA's criteria. In this study, we evaluated the impact of biomass flows (cover crops and manure) between cropping and cattle production in crop-livestock farms in the Lake Alaotra region. Surveys among crop-livestock farmers were used to calculate feed concentrate and mineral fertilizer equivalents. Our results show that on average 42, 22 and 10% of biomass production (dry matter basis) of Brachiaria spp., Stylosanthes guianensis and Vicia villosa, respectively, are used for livestock feeding. The economic benefit in feed concentrate equivalent is between ¿73 and ¿723/year per farm. The use of manure contributes, just as CA, to improve soil fertility without using external fertilizing resources. The economic benefit in mineral fertilizer equivalent is between ¿116 and ¿2365/year per farm. The integration of CA and livestock production shows, beyond the agronomic advantages, an obvious economic benefit, which is essential to secure the Malagasy agricultural systems. Moreover, this economic benefit is another argument for the dissemination of CA practices in rural areas.

Mots-clés : madagascar; lac alaotra

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