Realising biomass potentials for mixed livestock-crop systems, considering water, land and ecosystems

This activity is joint research together with the ILRI led WLE Volta-Niger proposal “Realising the full biomass of mixed livestock-crop systems in rapidly changing Sahelian agro-ecological landscapes” and an activity under CRP Livestock & Fish Activity Flagship System Analysis for Sustainable Innovation (SASI) “Development of new biomass framework to improve agricultural efficiency and environmental sustainability of VC interventions, at landscape scale.” This joint research project will reframe the entry point of analysis for improved sustainability in smallholder systems of SSA. The project will take an innovative systems approach, with plant biomass as the appropriate level to address and capture summarized benefits (in terms of food and income), trade-offs, synergies and alternative development pathways for improved management of water, land and ecosystems. By lifting the perspective from specific natural resources the problem analyses moves away from conventionally sectorial approaches (e.g. water, soil, etc.) which has tended to result in one dimensional advice for policy, often with marginal benefit to the development and sustainability agenda. In this project, the new order of holistic and integrated resource assessment will provide evidence-based research that can support planning and decision making for the urgently required sustainable intensification in agriculture. This WLE funded research activity will together with the funding under the L&F SASI Flagship develop the biomass framework to be applied in the ILRI led WLE Volta-Niger project end of 2015 and during 2016. The framework research during 2015 constitute two activities, (i) to develop a generic understanding by doing a global biomass accounting assessment, by combining LPJmL ("Lund-Potsdam-Jena managed Land") modelling (a Dynamic Global Vegetation Model, DGVM, including water), ruminant biomass modelling, and FAO data, and (ii) to apply the understanding from the global study to a number of regional cases, using baseline data from ongoing CRP Livestock and Fish value chain research, e.g. for dairy systems in Tanzania and small ruminants in Ethiopia.