Dr Mudamburi, an indispensable conservation agricultural expert

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Staff Reporter

Windhoek-Dr Bertha Mudamburi has become an indispensable expert in Conservation Agriculture (CA) on local soil. Having received a PhD in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Namibia (Unam) recently, she has great plans for the future in turning Namibia into a crop producing region that can feed its own and even export.

Dr Mudambari is very happy about her achievement and her future plans are to return academic life. She also intends to do further research in the area of CA so she can publish more papers and eventually become a professor.

Her study, ‘A comparison of the performance of Namibia-specific conservation and conventional tillage technologies as used for pearl millet (mahangu) production in Northern Namibia’, was carried out at Unam’s Ogongo Campus and in Ogongo and Omuntele constituencies of Omusati and Oshikoto regions from 2011 to 2016 under the main supervision of Dr A. Ogunmokun.

The overall aim of the study was to compare the performances of two conventional tillage (CV) treatments (i.e. tractor-drawn disc harrow (TDH) and animal-drawn mould-board plough (AMP) and two Namibia Specific Conservation Tillage (NSCT) treatments (tractor-drawn ripper furrower (TRF) and animal-drawn ripper furrower (ARF)) in pearl millet production.

The NSCT technologies (TRF and ARF) performed better than CV technologies (TDH and AMP) on depth of cut in all three years. The specific draught of NSCT technologies were also better across the three seasons, showing that they were more energy efficient than CV technologies.

The penetration resistance (PR) values were lower under conservation technologies, compared to under conventional technologies at the experimental plot and at the farmers’ fields.

The NSCT methods resulted in higher percentage increase in moisture content than CV methods. Moreover, pearl millet yields were higher under the NSCT methods compared to the conventional methods.

The increase in yields under conservation tillage technologies over conventional tillage technologies, as observed in this study, has great implications for the improvement of pearl millet yields of the 230,000 farmers in the Northern Communal Areas.

The study has shown that the Namibian Specific Conservation Tillage technologies (based on rip furrowing and mulching) resulted in more positive attributes for pearl millet production, compared to conventional methods (based on ploughing and disking), thereby showing their great potential to significantly transform Namibian smallholder agriculture into a sustainable and productive crop production option.

It is however recommended that research be conducted for a longer period to establish the long term effects of the NSCT technologies, test the combinations of tractors and draught animals and to include other variables, such as agronomic parameters not tested in this study.

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