Murdoch helps Vietnamese farmers improve soil quality and crop yields.

March 5, 2018

Farmers participate in a workshop to learn how to use the mini-pan to schedule irrigation.

Murdoch University researchers have been helping Vietnamese farmers to improve their yields by applying simple yet effective irrigation techniques, combined with nutritionally-balanced fertilisers.

An Australian Government-funded research partnership, led by Murdoch University and the Agricultural Science Institute for South Central Vietnam (ASISOV), has been working to address the multiple soil quality issues experienced in this farming area. They have also been developing solutions that could be duplicated on surrounding peanut and mango farms.

Professor Richard Bell and Dr Surender Mann  from the School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, said their research would help to guide more efficient farming practices in the future.

“Farming communities in south central coastal Vietnam face multiple  issues, such as sandy soils and water shortages, which affect their mango and peanut crop yields,” Dr Mann said.

“During the dry season, the region relies heavily on groundwater for crop irrigation, however, inefficient irrigation techniques have led to water waste, nutrient leaching, and faster depletion of groundwater.

“Given that droughts and floods are common in the area, the region required some resilient agricultural solutions that could be adapted to the changing climate.”

The team carried out extensive research, trialing various combinations of irrigation methods and soil nutrient ratios, along with use of a ‘mini pan’ that measures the rate of water evaporation and guides the farmer to schedule irrigation of specific crops.

The most effective soil improvement technique for the peanut crops proved to be adding potassium and sulphur in a 3:1 ratio, which decreased water use by almost a third, and improved the crop yield by 12 per cent.

When used in combination with the sprinkler irrigation system – this approach was 70 per cent more water efficient than the traditional flooding method.

Mango trees produced the most fruit when irrigated by a drip-line system, which reduced the volume of water required by half, and increased yield by more than 3.4 tonnes per hectare. In addition, the overall quality of the mangoes improved, leading to higher prices at market.

The improved peanut irrigation and soil improvement technique has now been approved by the local government for roll-out to other farms in the area, while assessment of the new method for improving mango production is currently underway.

This project and three more initiatives to improve soil quality and reduce water dependence on farms in south central coastal Vietnam, have been made possible through funding received from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

ACIAR recently allocated additional funding of $360,000 to increase the timeframe and scope of the Murdoch-led project, which will continue for another 18 months and be scaled out to other neighbouring farming provinces, which will benefit more small landholders and help to alleviate poverty in the region.

The introduction of water-efficient irrigation methods, combined with the right balance of soil nutrients has led to improved crop yields for South Central Vietnam’s farmers.




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Comments (One response)

ANDREW TAGGART March 9, 2018

well done Surender. You make a wonderful contribution to Murdoch.

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