Eichhornia crassipes, Lac Alaotra, Natasha Stoudmann

An alternative for agriculture at Lake Alaotra, Madagascar: organic fertilizer and soil amendment from the invasive water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes)

Tsiry Rakotoarisoa, Torsten Richter, Nora Schmidt, Jasmin Mantilla Contreras


In the context of a globally increasing human population coupled with continuous environmental degradation, eco-friendly agricultural innovations are essential to reduce poverty and food insecurity in the world. This is particularly evident in developing countries where nature conservation and agricultural production remain in conflict. We investigated the effectiveness of using a locally free natural resource, the invasive plant species water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), as a source for organic fertilizer and soil amendment (composts, green manure and ash) at Lake Alaotra, one of the most important agricultural areas of Madagascar. Five different products were produced under the local conditions of Lake Alaotra. In addition, we conducted a growth experiment with Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa ssp. chinensis) to evaluate the effectiveness of the water hyacinth products in comparison to the mineral fertilizer NPK—nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium—and to cow dung. The results of our study show that it was easily possible to produce water hyacinth fertilizer/soil amendment under the remote conditions of Lake Alaotra. In addition, our results show that a higher biomass gain of Chinese cabbage treated with water hyacinth composts was achieved compared to NPK and cow dung. A higher biomass gain was mainly obtained due to an improvement of soil structure after compost addition. Water hyacinth green manure and ash showed low performance. Besides, applying composts was cheaper than buying NPK or cow dung. Our results show that water hyacinth can serve as a fertilizer and soil amendment and could help to improve agriculture at Lake Alaotra.



Dans un contexte d’accroissement mondial de la population humaine couplé d’une dégradation continue de l’environnement, les innovations agriculturales respectueuses de l’environnement sont essentielles pour réduire la pauvreté et l’insécurité alimentaire mondiale. Cette situation est particulièrement évidente au niveau des pays en voie de développement où la conservation de la nature et la production agricole sont en constant conflit. Nous avons étudié l’efficacité de l’usage d’une ressource naturelle locale, la plante envahissante jacinthe d’eau (Eichhornia crassipes) comme source de fertilisant organique (composts, engrais vert et cendre) au niveau du Lac Alaotra, une des plus importantes zones agricoles de Madagascar. Cinq types de fertilisants ont été produits à partir de la jacinthe d’eau selon les conditions locales du Lac Alaotra. De plus, nous avons conduit une expérience avec le chou de chine (Brassica rapa, ssp. chinensis) pour évaluer les performances des fertilisants de la jacinthe d’eau en comparaison avec les fertilisants locaux NPK (11% d’azote, 22% de phosphore et 16% de potassium) et le fumier de bétail. Nos résultats montrent que la production de fertilisants à partir de la jacinthe d’eau et son usage pour l’amendement du sol sont possibles et faciles à réaliser dans les conditions locales. De plus, un gain de biomasse important a été observé avec les choux traités avec les composts de jacinthe d’eau en comparaison avec le NPK et le fumier de bétail. L’important gain de biomasse est certainement dû à l’amélioration de la structure du sol après l’application du compost. L’engrais vert et les cendres de jacinthe d’eau ont montré cependant de maigres performances. De plus, l’utilisation du compost est moins chère par rapport à celle du NPK et du fumier de bétail. Nos résultats montrent que la jacinthe d’eau peut être appliquée en tant que fertilisant et pour l’amendement du sol, et par conséquent peut contribuer à l’amélioration de l’agriculture au niveau du Lac Alaotra.


Invasive species; natural resource management; agrarian change; rural development; Africa

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