Buried Treasure in the Andes: A Collaborative Effort

Aerial photo of an Andean potato farm

Aerial photo of an Andean potato farm

A buried treasure high in the Andes is getting special attention from Virginia Tech scientists. The unassuming potato is the world’s fifth most important crop worldwide, making it a truly valuable resource. Therefore, in their newest collaborative effort, the Feed the Future SANREM and IPM Innovation Labs are demonstrating once again how far the benefits of conservation agriculture can reach by focusing on this staple crop.

The team is helping five farming families grow healthier, more resilient potatoes while battling climate change, erosion, and invasive species. Techniques used in this effort include planting native shrubs and grasses to protect the topsoil, rotating crops, treating seed potatoes with a beneficial fungus called Trichoderma, and more.

“We’re reducing the effects on the ecosystem and lightening the farmer’s load,” says Adrian Ares, Director of the Feed the Future SANREM Innovation Lab. “When compared with conventional agriculture practices, the combination of integrated pest management and conservation agriculture practices – which focus on preserving soil integrity – pays off. Erosion is a huge problem up there, but conservation agriculture reduces soil loss dramatically.”

To learn more about the project, read this post published by Agrilinks.