Academic Venture Fund - 2016

Boosting Maize Yields Sustainably

Push-pull farming technique

Farming systems that use ecological principles—rather than expensive chemicals—are helping African farmers raise more food sustainably. One method protects maize from destructive moths with two partner crops: a legume that repels the hungry moths and a grass that attracts them for a tasty meal. This "push-pull" approach improves soil fertility and can triple yields, but some farms have seen much smaller gains. This team will find out why. Their answers about how surrounding landscapes and soil affect results will help more smallholder farmers benefit from sustainable practices that are helping their neighbors.

Investigators: Katja Poveda, Laurie Drinkwater, Andre Kessler, Magdeline Laba