Stronger research trials for better agricultural results
The research partnership between Meds & Food for Kids and the Feed the Future Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab (PMIL) is an important part of the MFK agriculture program. The two organizations have a long history of collaboration and participation in the field of peanut research in Haiti, and results of research studies have helped inform agricultural extension programs aimed at improving livelihoods of smallholder peanut farmers in Haiti. Many of the peanut research trials are conducted right outside the MFK factory doors in Quartier Morin. This is a secure research space where control of environmental variables for scientific research is relatively straightforward. However, it is advisable to have at least two locations when conducting agricultural field studies because research results obtained in different geographic areas with various climatic, soil, and other conditions can strengthen the hypotheses and conclusions drawn by the research. For this reason, MFK partners with Acceso Peanut Enterprise Corporation (APEC) to conduct PMIL research trials at the APEC nursery. This facility is located in a rural community called Coupe Gorge, which is part of the Mirebalais commune in the Centre Department. Key variables such as average rainfall, altitude, mean temperature, and soil conditions are verifiably different between the MFK campus in Quartier Morin and the APEC nursery in Mirebalais.
The agriculture team just came back from a three day trip to Mirebalais. During this trip, the team was able to plant a new trial which compares traditional scatter planting methods and row planting at two different plant densities. They were also able to apply foliar fertilizer to the soil fertility trial currently in the ground there and fungicide to a Valencia type variety trial also in the ground. Finally, the agriculture team installed new Decagon® data loggers and instrumentation to measure temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, soil water content, and rainfall. Pictured above is the data logger and instrumentation installation at MFK, and pictured below are the research plots in Mirebalais. The data loggers and instrumentation will allow us to measure climatic conditions that have an effect on peanut farming in both locations, both improving interpretation of research results and enabling MFK to modify its recommendations to smallholder farmers based on climatic trends.