Water and Land Resources Management

THEME: Water and Land Resources Management

Theme leader: Chandra Madramootoo (McGill)

Subproject: Drip irrigation and Soil Conservation

Subproject coordinator: Chandra Madramootoo (McGill)

Water, both in excess and in deficit, is a constraint on food production in Guyana and the Eastern Caribbean. Guyana has an extensive irrigation and drainage network that requires adaptation for intensive vegetable production. In St. Lucia and St. Kitts-Nevis, drought and water scarcity during the dry season (December to May) is a major constraint to crop productivity.

  • Water harvesting and irrigation techniques will be studied to enhance sustainable, year-round production of food crops.
  • Water harvesting ponds and tanks will be designed in St. Lucia and St. Kitts-Nevis to collect rainwater and runoff water during the wet season, for irrigation usage during the dry season. 
  • Drip irrigation technologies and advanced soil water sensor technologies to conserve water, will be utilized to increase water use efficiency.
  • Drip irrigation system, together with fertigation, will be investigated to conserve water and reduce agrochemical contamination of soil and water. 
  • Contour cropping and drainage, and intercropping on sloping lands will be studied to reduce soil erosion.

Subproject: Protected agriculture and field crop diversification

Subproject coordinator: Wendy Ann P. Isaac (UWI)

Protected agriculture (PA) is a strategy to mitigate harmful climatic extremes, by protecting the plant mechanically, thereby allowing for year-round production of vegetables and other crops. Despite the potential of PA technology, the main challenges of these structures are the appropriate structural designs for use under Eastern Caribbean conditions of high sustained temperature (>38C) and relative high humidity (>95%) as well as the sustainability of the production systems.

  • Research on PA will evaluate designs, cultivation media, crop varieties and pest and disease management strategies for these environmental conditions.
  • The development of appropriate PA management technologies will contribute to high yields of quality vegetables under conditions which sustain the natural environment without impairing human health and wellbeing.  

Subproject: Small ruminant production  

Subproject coordinators: Sylvia Borucki and Leroy Phillip (McGill)

The strategic plan for alternative use of sugar cane lands in St. Kitts-Nevis includes a goal to substantially improve small ruminant (sheep and goats) production to meet the rapidly increasing local and tourist demand for lamb and goat meat.  However, pronounced seasonality in rainfall leads to inadequate quantity and quality of forage during the dry season, posing constraints on small on productivity of small ruminants. 

  • Conservation of mulato grass and forage sorghum as silage will be investigated as a means of increasing the availability and quality of forage during the dry season to increase sheep  and goat production by small holder farmers.
  • Studies will be undertaken to assess the relative impact of supplemental feeding of sorghum  and mulato grass silages on “time to achieve market weight” by sheep and goats
  • The use of low-level silage technology (“drum silage”)   on the quality of sorghum and mulato grass silage will be evaluated.