Working Abroad Archives

UYAG Development Center - Agroforestry Project

UYAG Development Center (UDC) is an integrated and sustainable agroforestry project in Barrio Cebuano, province of South Cotobato on the island of Mindano in the Philippines. The purpose of the project is to use the facility and surrounding area as a demonstration farm and teaching center for agriculture students from Mindanao State University in General Santos and for local farmers cultivating similar land areas. The group emphasizes an agroforestry technique that incorporates Sloping Agriculture Land Technology (SALT) to stabilize the steep and easily erodible hillsides so they can eventually be farmed safely and productively.

I had the opportunity to spend two days with the project leader, Mr. Craig Gustafson, and with the center director, Mr. Joseph Nerredo and lead technician, Mr. Daniel Gorzen. They openly shared what they knew about UDC while I learned about the installation, their strategy and mission, and discussed the operations. I also reviewed the infrastructure and water supply, and walked the highlands seeing SALT in practice and the affects of slash and burn agriculture on the quality of crop yields and on the soil erosion it caused. I then advised them on the agronomic aspects of the project and worked with them to improve the productivity of their vermiculture and horticulture operations.

Phase one of the project incorporated SALT techniques planting hedgerows of four legume tree species along contours of the steep slopes at intervals of one meter drop in elevation. UDC staff hadn’t measured the actual slopes but they are estimated at up to 30% to 40% on most locations and higher in some locations. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Soil Capability Classes of upland landscapes would classify them as VIIIe, having severe limitations of slope and susceptible to severe erosion. They can only be considered for use mainly as pasture or range, woodland, or wildlife food cover. SALT allows the above but with the stable soils; cereals and vegetables are also planted without severe consequences. The legume varieties planted for the hedgerows consist of species of Calliandra, Flemingia, Desmodium and Indigofera.

Within a short period of time, mini terraces form behind the hedgerows from soil washing down within the contours and catching behind the base of the bushes in the branches and stems placed to act as an erosion barrier. The mini terraces later become the platform for the planting of various crops to be grown sustainably for food, fodder or fuel.

Branches of the maturely growing legumes are high in protein and provide feed daily to a herd of Nubian goats. Because the steep slopes make it very difficult to transport the cut branches to the goat pens located on the more gentle downhill slopes, the workers use a zip line to move the feed from the highest points of the property to the goat complex below. The goats are caged in very high quality, covered bamboo structures with slatted floors where the manure and urine pass through the floors to the ground below. The goat manure and urine are collected and layered with banana stalks and leaves or with other green vegetation in two to three cubic meter bins and mixed with earthworms to make vermicompost.

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John Casazza
posted July 6, 2010 12:08 PM

Live from Copenhagen

Rachel Barge, Conservation and Resource Studies '08, is attending Copenhagen and keeping everyone updated via her blog at the Business Council on Climate Change.

Rachel won the 2007 Brower Youth Award for her work to build the campus Green Initiative Fund.

Eva St. Clair
posted December 10, 2009 9:57 PM

Vote Andaman Discoveries for the BBC World Challenge!

Hi CNR Students and Alums,

I started a non-profit in Thailand back in 2005, and it has gone on to do great things. Recently, we were chosen as a finalist for the BBC World Challenge. If you can, please take 30 seconds to vote for us at their website, so we can keep up the good work! The website is The BBC World Challenge.

Our connection to the villages comes from rebuilding our lives together, and our projects focus on the big picture, empowering people to define their own future. This means that, along with responsible tourism, we also support scholarships for 120 kids, reforestation, a community development network, and a lot more. Pardon the spiel if you've already heard it, but it's the real deal.

Winning the World Challenge would mean a lot: the award will underwrite our projects, and the publicity will help us spread our message, which is always a challenge with a miniscule PR budget :) If you are excited by all this, feel free to post this message on your facebook account, blog, or email lists.

With thousands of nominations annually, the World Challenge recognizes innovative business projects that increase investment into the local community and take a responsible approach to the environment in which they are operating. We were chosen by a jury of high-level executives from Shell, BBC World, the World Bank, IUCN, and Newsweek.

So, if you could be so kind as to follow the link and vote for us, it would be of great service to our projects and the people they serve.

Bodhi Garrett
Director, Andaman Discoveries
Coordinator, IUCN North Andaman Network
Founder, North Andaman Tsunami Relief

Link to Andaman Discoveries on the BBC World Challenge

Press Release (PDF)

Bodhi Garrett
posted October 14, 2009 8:27 AM

What I Learned From Training Farmers in Tanzania

We read a lot about sustainable agriculture on our multi-acre farms in the USA and the rest of the developed world. What makes them sustainable? The most common farm inputs and farm capital assets tied into sustainability are

But there is nothing more sustainable than a small farmer managing to eke out a living by producing food and a bit of cash for the family on one to two acres in a sub-tropical highland in the mountains of Eastern Tanzania.

Take a look at this picture of a randomly planted tract, straddling a small creek and looking like a dense and healthy backyard garden. It's a bit hard to pick out all the crops, but there are bananas, pineapple, mango, taro, cassava, chick peas, coconut, cloves and oranges. Their produce is either consumed over the year by the farmer and family or sold for cash to local brokers. It's been recently weeded so the fertile, dark red, volcanic soil is readily exposed.

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John Casazza
posted August 7, 2009 9:18 PM

From ES to Oxford

Hello interested blog readers. I was asked to give a quick profile of what I've done since graduating.


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Josh Fisher
posted June 9, 2009 11:46 AM

I never imagined what a degree in CNR would lead to in my career!

All through my youth I had a passion for the natural sciences and I wanted to follow it in college. During my first two years at Cal I took the prerequisite courses for Biology major, which were just about the same as for any science degree. When trying to decide on what major to declare I looked within the life sciences and earth sciences departments and within the College of Natural Resources (CNR). What attracted me to CNR was the opportunity to learn in a small class setting and have more contact with the professors, and be associated with the college that through its programs was studying the science issues of the day; like the energy crisis, food safety and security and environmental degradation and pollution. Sound familiar! I chose the Soils and Plant Nutrition major because of its overlap with both the life and earth sciences. So in 1977 I graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.S degree in Soils and Plant Nutrition from the College of Natural Resources.

How did my years at Berkeley prepare me for the future? Besides the courses within the major, like soil classification, soil chemistry, soil microbiology, and plant physiology and biochemistry, I was able to take courses in geology, forest influences and forest soils, ecology, botany, mycology and ag economics. All of the courses included classroom lectures and either lab or field work or both.

One of the best courses offered in the department was a summer field course. Over a six week quarter, UC Berkeley and UC Davis professors covered the study of soils within many of the environments of California for students from both schools. The major offered opportunities for independent study where I worked on the impacts of fluoridated water on the environment in conjunction with the Sierra Club, and the issue of herbicide usage in the Viet Nam war. I conducted trials in the Oxford Tract greenhouse and I worked at the Oxford Tract organic garden. Because of the close contacts with the department and its professors we could access their latest analytical equipment for our work and study. I even found time to work at the US Forest Service Labs in Berkeley and had a small landscaping business in the community. It was a great time to be a student at Berkeley.

continue reading "I never imagined what a degree in CNR would lead to in my career!" »

John Casazza
posted July 14, 2008 3:34 PM