Within the Mazingira Centre we focus on agricultural production systems – in particular mixed crop-livestock systems – in the developing world. Thereby we are not only considering improvements in agricultural productivity due to projected agricultural intensification and subsequently ensuring food and nutrition security in the future but also environmental consequences. We particularly aim at deriving greenhouse gas (GHG) emission baselines for the dominant agricultural productions systems in Africa and testing promising interventions to reduce suchlike. This encompasses halting or reversing land degradation, which commonly leads to nutrient losses into the atmosphere and hydrosphere and overall environmental degradation. Therefore, our research approach fulfills the three pillars of climate smart agriculture: (1) ensuring agricultural productivity now and in the future, (2) climate change mitigation and (3) climate change adaptation. The strength of our approach is that we directly test promising agricultural interventions in the field and provide the newly gained knowledge widely (ie. during focused farmer training courses, to extension officers, to national research laboratories as well as to the respective governments). We furthermore aim at building the future generation of scientists by mentoring BSc, MSc and PhD students.
In order to achieve our goals (Agriculture, Environment and Education) the Mazingira Centre has three major research areas: (i) Animal Sciences with a specific focus on animal nutrition, (ii) Biogeochemical Processes encompassing carbon and nitrogen turnover in soil and the quantification of GHG emissions from individual compartments of ecosystems (ie. soils, manure, plants and animals), and (iii) Ecosystem Biogeochemistry which primarily focuses on the quantification and exchange of nutrients at the ecosystem scale (ie. eddy covariance measurements of NH3, CO2, CH4, N2O and H2O). Our research directly feeds into the wider focus of ILRI but particularly into the Sustainable Livestock Systems Program. Moreover we are actively engaging with stakeholders and collaborate with national and international universities and research institutions. (Fig 1.)
Fig. 1: The overall structure of Mazingira Centre, highlighting the three primary research areas and our interactions within ILRI, with stakeholders and national as well as international collaborators.