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Ecuadorian farmers at the farm of Humberto Paguay in the Illangama watershed.

Ecuadorian farmers at the farm of Humberto Paguay in the Illangama watershed.

 Jorge Delgado and Rosa Juana Arévalo sitting in front of laptops.
ARS soil scientist Jorge Delgado (left) and agricultural engineer student from Universidad Estatal de Bolívar in Ecuador, Rosa Juana Arévalo assess nitrogen management in different crop rotations of the Andean region using the USDA-ARS Nitrogen Index tool. (Luis Escudero, D5065-1)

Helping Small Farmers in South America Adapt to Climate Change

The Andean region of South America has one of the highest soil erosion rates in the world, which forces many smallholder farmers in the region to abandon their land. ARS scientists from the Soil Management and Sugarbeet Research Unit in Fort Collins, CO, collaborated with institutions to investigate practices that might help smallholder farmers increase sustainability of their lands and adapt to a changing climate.

This team studied practices such as maintaining the soil cover, using no till or minimum tillage, improving crop rotations, and performing better nitrogen management. They found that these practices reduced erosion, increased yields and economic returns, improved sustainability, and increased the potential to adapt to climate change. The team determined that conservation agriculture methods could help increase the food security and economic returns of 200,000 smallholder farmers in Ecuador.

Research Project: Conservation Agriculture Increases Yields and Economic Returns of Potato, Forage, and Grain Systems of the Andes.

Explore Other Discoveries

Predicting High-Risk Areas for Wildfires

Researchers developed a forecast tool to determine which areas have the highest probability of a large rangeland fire.

Building a Better Honey Bee

ARS researchers are studying genetics and breeding to make honey bees more resilient.

Long Term Honey Bee Research Monitoring Network

A long-term honey bee monitoring network helps researchers to better understand colony performance and survivorship over multiple seasons.

Plant Diseases Hide Unexpected Places

ARS researchers examined rhododendron plants growing in native stands, looking for microbes that cause diseases that affect other plants.

Screening to Breed Superior Cotton

Scientists are producing new strains of cotton that offer both quality and abundance.

Improved Fall Planting Options

ARS researchers recently developed and released three new pea cultivars that can be grown in the cooler months.

How Healthy is Your Soil?

Researchers have developed a new, easier way to find the answer to the question, "How much carbon is stored in soil?"

Beneficial Wasp May Put Sting in Fruit Pest

ARS and University of California-Berkeley scientists are evaluating the potential of a parasitoid wasp to control the fruit fly, spotted wing drosophila.

Genes That Keep Tomatoes Fresher

Scientists have identified a tomato gene that's responsible for the softening process in the fruit as it matures, and found a way to inhibit the gene, keeping tomatoes firmer, longer.