Saturday, April 25, 2009

Not Really Sustainable

We are soooooo thankful for our tractor. When it's working, we use it for hauling trees, mulch, or--goodness--anything else! When it's working, we also plow with it on occasion. When it's working. But the ancient Ford is more often than not out of commission. Either a bolt jolts loose or it runs out of gas or the tire goes flat or it just stops working because it's trying to tell us it wasn't made for African-style work. My favorite problem is when a "special" part breaks. By special, I mean one that we have to special order from America.
What in the world is sustainable about that?! That's why we've been transitioning to farming practices that do not rely on plowing. Instead, we use heavy mulch cover (which reduces the problematic erosion that is so common with heavy African rainfalls and keeps the moisture in the soil when the hot equatorial sun comes out) and a method called "planting stations." Without going into boring agricultural detail, the benefit of this method is that it increases organic matter and sustains high quality soil. For the those not so savvy on farming and scientific lingo, those are very important factors.
We still like the convenience of our tractor to haul and transport; and if anyone wants to donate a more reliable one, we won't turn it down! :) But as we seek to model farming practices that can be replicated in the community and even improve local farmers' crops and yields, we cannot depend on our undependable tractor quite so much. 
 

3 comments:

Ryan and Denise said...

Hey- We just wanted to let you guys know that we love hearing about your life in Africa, it is very inspiring! Be blessed this day-Ryan and Denise

Jerome & Crysti said...

I just recently discovered that you've been updating your blog. YAY! I love to hear about how life is going for the Z family...we miss you and love you. Perhaps next time we see you Shawn and J can swap broken down vehicle stories :-)

"brownies" said...

..always good to read about tractors, maybe if i continue reading your blog my own framing will improve??
greetings from the wrong side of the tracks!

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