Improving soil health through climate-smart agriculture

This Webinar will focus on AFRICAP’s efforts to review and extend evidence to inform context-specific CSA recommendations and policies for a resilient agriculture and food security in SSA.

Efforts to meet the growing demand for food across sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has led to unsustainable land management practices that cause soil degradation and weaken the resilience of agricultural systems. Soil health is key to building more climate-resilient agricultural systems and can be improved through a range of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) practices.

Featuring presentations from Prof Andy Dougill, Dr Samuel Eze and Thirze Hermans, this webinar will focus on AFRICAP’s efforts to review and extend the empirical evidence base to inform context-specific CSA recommendations and policies for a resilient agriculture and food security in SSA. The use of soil health indicators as a measure of the effectiveness of implemented CSA practices such as Conservation Agriculture (e.g. cover cropping, mulching, crop rotation, intercropping, minimum/zero tillage, crop residue management) in maize-based systems and Soil and Water Conservation (contour planting, terraces and bunds, planting pits, irrigation) in Highland African systems will be discussed. The webinar will also explore strategies for upscaling CSA practices through enhanced farmer participation in the chain of CSA activities ranging from intervention design to community evaluation of impacts.

The webinar will close with a response from discussant, Dr Christian Thierfelder, Principal Cropping Systems Agronomist and Strategic Leader specializing in Conservation Agriculture systems research with CIMMYT, followed by a Q&A, facilitated by the event chair Prof Steven Banwart, Director of the Global Food & Environment Institute at the University of Leeds.

For more GCRF-AFRICAP seminars on food systems and climate resilience in sub-Saharan Africa, visit the GCRF-AFRICAP events page.

Register to attend Improving Soil Health Through Climate-Smart Agriculture on Tuesday 23 February from 13:00 – 14:15 (GMT).


  • Dr Christian Thierfelder, Principal Cropping Systems Agronomist and Strategic Leader in Conservation Agriculture Systems Research at CIMMYT

Christian Thierfelder is a Principal Cropping Systems Agronomist and Strategic Leader, specializing in Conservation Agriculture (CA) systems research with CIMMYT. He is based in Harare, Zimbabwe and covers the whole southern African region. He trained as a Soil Scientist at the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Germany and did his PhD-project with the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) on soil conservation in Cali, Colombia. He received his PhD with the University of Hohenheim, Germany in 2003. Since 2004, he has been involved in CA related projects led by CIMMYT in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia. He has conducted applied and strategic research on-farm and on-station to adapt CA to the needs and environments of smallholder farmers in southern Africa. Since 2009 he has been project leader of several large CA projects. He guided the research programs of 25 Bsc, MSc and PhD students, and published more than 85 research articles in peer-reviewed high-impact journals and books (current Scopus H- factor 29).

  • Prof Andy Dougill, Professor of Environmental Sustainability at University of Leeds 

Andy Dougill is an applied environmental change researcher & experienced academic leader with 30 years of experience across southern African farming systems that integrates a range of disciplines including soil science, ecology, climate services and environmental social sciences. He has have developed innovative approaches for integrating research methodologies that use scientific approaches together with local participation to ensure locally relevant research output with studies applied in a range of socio-ecological settings, with a focus on sub-Saharan African Farming Systems. He has successfully built long-lasting partnerships with a range of African Universities and partner organisations through a strong commitment to impact, capacity building and research training. In the GCRF AFRICAP project, he is the Malawi country co-ordinator and work package leader for studies on ‘Climate Smart Agriculture & Soil Health Benefits’.

  • Dr Samuel Eze, GCRF-AFRICAP Research Fellow in Soil Science of African Agricultural Systems at University of Leeds

Dr Samuel Eze is a GCRF-AFRICAP Research Fellow of Soil Science of African Agricultural Systems. Samuel’s research focuses on the impacts of climate-smart agricultural practices on the physical, chemical and biological indicators of soil health. Before joining the GCRF-AFRICAP project, Samuel worked as a Postdoctoral Impact Translation Fellow for the Yorkshire Integrated Catchment Solutions Programme (iCASP), UK, where he investigated the impacts of different land management interventions in the UK on soil health. His main research interest is understanding the impacts of agricultural land management practices and climate change on the soil’s continued capacity to maintain important functions such crop production, climate change mitigation, water and air quality regulation. He has a BSc in Soil Science (Federal University of Technology Owerri), an MSc in Sustainable Environmental Management (University of Greenwich) and a PhD in Physical Geography (University of Leeds).

  • Thirze Hermans, Phd Researcher, Conservation Agriculture at University of Leeds

Thirze Hermans is a NERC-funded PhD researcher at the University of Leeds working on Conservation Agriculture scaling in Malawi in collaboration with International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). Her PhD research focuses on the Conservation Agriculture scaling process and associated smallholder farmer decision-making, thereby gaining understanding on the processes of change, knowledge interactions and translation from research to communities. She has a BSc in liberal arts and sciences (major environmental science) from Amsterdam University College, The Netherlands, and MSc Physical Geography and Ecosystem Dynamics from Lund University, Sweden. Other projects she is working on include UK climate change risk assessment (CCRA) international dimensions chapter and Red Cross project on the integration of local knowledge on early warning early action with scientific forecasting; case studies for Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.