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Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sorghum and Millet

Optimization of seed ball technology for pearl millet, and agronomic and socio-economic evaluation in the context of smallholder farmers in Senegal and Niger

Lead institution: University of Hohenheim - Germany
Award amount: $172,600
Focus countries: Niger, Senegal

Seed ball

Principal investigator: Ludger Herrmann
International collaborating institutions: Senegal - ISRA, FAPAL (farmer organization); Niger - INRAN, Fuma Gaskiya (farmer organization)

Pearl millet farmers in Senegal and Niger face many challenges related to crop production, one of which is seeding survival. Technologies that enhance seedling survival in the Sahel present the potential of an important contribution to reduce overall cropping risks in the region, thereby enhancing pearl millet productivity and yield stability.

This project pursues the seed ball technology as a valid option to reduce cropping risks and improve farmers' yields - particularly for female farmers - by using low-cost resources that are readily available. The seed ball technology represents a special form of seed pelleting with natural loam and additives including wood ash from cooking places and chemical fertilizers in micro-dosages, to enhance early plant establishment and plant development. In a highly interdisciplinary and participatory approach, the team's research activities will:

  1. Further optimize the seed ball technology for pearl millet
  2. Validate the seed ball technology under Sahelian field conditions and determine the agronomic and socio-economic benefits for farmers, and
  3. Strengthen local capacity for seed ball research and application in Senegal and Niger.

These objectives are being achieved by including smallholder farmers, farmer organizations, local and international research institutions and multimedia in a continued process of seed ball development, refinement, validation and adaptation to local conditions. At least four local Master's students will be trained and results will be communicated widely. The overarching project objective will be achieved when Sahelian subsistence farmers are able to create seed balls independently and can benefit from a reduced likelihood of cropping failures, improved early plant establishment and grain yield formation.

Project details

For more information about the project, contact:

Ludger HerrmannDr. Ludger Herrmann
University of Hohenheim
Institute of Soil Science and Land Evaluation, Soil Chemistry and Pedology (310a)
70593 Stuttgart, Germany
+49 0711 459-22324
Ludger.Herrmann@uni-hohenheim.de