Date of Award

5-2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Environmental and Soil Sciences

Major Professor

Neal Eash

Committee Members

John Morrison, Dayton Lambert, William Hart

Abstract

Sustainable agricultural systems are needed for both large and small-scale farmers the world over. Central to the sustainability of these systems is the availability of cheap and effective seeders for smallholder farmers and effective utilization of less energy intensive nitrogen sources. In the first two chapters, this thesis considers maize seeders for smallholder use in a Conservation Agriculture system. To sustain the smallholder sector, soil fertility and soil erosion must be addressed and a Conservation Agriculture model seeks to improve soil conditions in agriculture. The technologies available to smallholder farmers, though, need to be tested in a no-till system before being promoted abroad, especially with cash-poor smallholder farmers.

In the third chapter, this thesis considers a low energy intensive nitrogen-rich soil amendment in the production of fescue in the US that could decrease fertilizer costs of the farmer and repurpose an industrial fermentation by-product, thereby achieving a sustainable system between industry and farmer. However different in scale, American farmers and smallholders farmers are seeking the most effective, efficient and sustainable system while also increasing yields within the same area. Exploration of alternative nitrogen sources and improved seeding practice in this thesis seeks to highlight contemporary and realistic opportunities in sustainability.

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