A major focus of what we do at PlantVillage is helping smallholder farmers adapt to climate change. But since the challenges of climate change will increase with more and more greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere it is vital that we also capture and durably remove carbon at scale with farmers. There are many ways we do this: via practices like no-till agriculture and use of cover crops for soil-carbon sequestration and agroforestry practices that increase biomass and carbon capture on farm via trees. PlantVillage works with and encourages farmers to practice no-till agriculture, integrated pest management, cover crops and intercropping to maximize ecological services on farm.
In a proactive effort to mitigate climate change, PlantVillage encourages and support farmers to adapt by practicing agroforestry. Agroforestry refers to growing woody perennial and crops and rearing animals in the same environment for ecological and economic benefits.
The Agroforestry team supplies farmers with healthy tree seedlings, and the resources needed to establish successful agroforestry in their farm. PlantVillage through the Dream Team aims to plant millions of trees that will capture carbon from atmosphere and store it in the soil.
We also work with farmers to create Carbon Capture Cubes: here farms can capture carbon as they grow food or trees and the waste biomass from both can be converted into biochar which is a durable form of carbon that remains stable for >1,000 years (ref). PlantVillahe won the Elon Musk Carbon XPRIZE, Milestone and Student Prize for its work in this space.
PlantVillage has distributed and planted more than > 1 million trees to farmers and public institutions across Kenya and Burkina Faso.
In Kenya PlantVillage has partnered with Kenya Forest Service in Busia County to establish a tree nursery. Located in Machakus, the nursery has Grevillea robusta is one of the most preferred trees species for agroforestry in Kenya. We have since expanded to help local community members establish their own seedling nuyrseries from which we can buy seedlings or they can sell directly to neighbors.
A beta version of an android app has been developed for the registration of trees, tracking and monitoring of tree growth. The Dream Team collects baseline assessment surveys for farmers who planted the trees seedling in order to track and monitor the trees just like we do for pest and diseases. The current beta version in PlantVillage Nuru application has three major functions (1) Plant a Sapling, (2) Add an Existing Tree, and finally (3) Log Tree Growth. Our goal here is to develop tools that will enable the rapid determination of tree survival and growth rate which can then be shared by the global community of ecologists and other researchers. More details of this will be forthcoming (dated March 4th 2023).