Agroecological toolkit

Since 2014, with the support of the Big Lottery Fund and the European Union, SCIAF has worked with five partners in two holistic programmes across El Salvador and Nicaragua to develop these promising agroecological practices.  

The 21 promising practices available below are proven to work. They have been used and recommended by the most vulnerable producers and their families. They have helped these families make their lives healthier and more food secure by providing additional food, and helping them withstand the challenges of greater climate variability and extreme weather.

Download the introduction to our toolkit in English or Spanish

Each promising practise has a booklet and an accompany poster which can be downloaded.

Promising agroecological practices

  1. Soil conservation

    1.1 A-frames and slope contours
    Soil and water conservation work first requires the use of an ‘A frame’, a tool that allows you to plot contour lines on a slope so that work can be developed on the same level.

    1.2 Ditches, and organic and inorganic barriers
    To stop water and wind eroding soil in fields, especially if they have a steep gradient, it is necessary to establish barriers, whether organic or inorganic, and dig infiltration ditches.

    1.3 Individual terraces for fruit trees
    These terraces are small round platforms, two meters in diameter, built on land with up to a 60% gradient. They ensure good tree development, greater infiltration of rainwater, conservation of moisture and reduction of soil erosion.

  2. Water Conservation

    2.1 Bio-filters
    Grey water from household bathrooms (showers and sinks) and laundry rooms in the countryside is wasted because it is contaminated by cleaning products. The bio-filter is able to decontaminate this water and make it useful for watering plants and trees.

    2.2 Drip irrigation
    An easy to manage system with quick installation.It increases resilience to climate change as it helps mitigate irregular rainfall and is used to plant during the dry season.

    2.3 Reforestation of water recharge areas
    The water recharge areas are the parts of a hydrographic basin where rain and surface water are collected: part of the water infiltrates into the ground and part of it runs-off into streams and rivers.

  3. Seed conservation

    3.1 Community seed banks
    Having stocks of basic grain seeds, at a community level, is a guarantee of greater food security, especially in times of drought.

    3.2 Improvement of native corn
    Due to the free pollination of its flowers, the corn plant is easy to cross-pollinate with other plants. Phenotypic selection is the oldest, simplest and
    cheapest method of crop improvement. It is the visual selection of corn based on physical and phenotype differences between plants.
  4. Crop management

    4.1 Seedlings produced in tunnels
    Ensures healthy and strong plants in the first weeks of their development and can reduce field losses from 40% down to just 10%. This is achieved by transplanting seedlings that have started their development in a tunnel.

    4.2 Community greenhouse
    Cultivation in a greenhouse guarantees production throughout the year, and vegetables, fruit trees, herbs, and medicinal and ornamental plants are protected from adverse conditions such as the climate or an attack of pests. Water consumption is also reduced.

    4.3 Family vegetable gardens
    By producing most of the food consumed by their families, the farmers are assured available, healthy food in sufficient quantity, and save money as they don’t have to buy produce from the market.
  5. Production of inputs

    5.1 Production of solid fertiliser
    Making fermented organic fertilisers is the process of decomposition of organic waste by microorganisms. This produces a stable material known as bokashi (organic fertiliser), able to fertilise plants and nourish the earth at the same time.

    5.2. Bio-fermented fertiliser
    Bio-fermented products are liquid organic fertilisers that can be produced with local naturally occurring micro-organisms obtained from a process of fermentation and the decomposition of organic matter.
  6. Farm diversification

    6.1 Crop diversification
    The diversification of a field or farm is a good measure of mitigation of climate change for a farming family and takes advantage of the space available for planting different types of crops so that the family has food and produce available to sell at different times of the year.

    6.2 Energy parcels
    By planting fast-growing trees families can guarantee firewood and charcoal for today and tomorrow, without the need for future deforestation.

    6.3 Making homemade concentrate for chickens 
    The preparation of these concentrates provides a more balanced feed for poultry to keep them healthy and producing eggs and meat to meet the demand for good quality food for the family.
  7. Field methodologies

    7.1 Community exchanges
    Learning from others and being convinced by other farmers of the benefits of certain practices is part of the farmer-to-farmer philosophy.

    7.2 Farmers’ school and experimentation
    Farmer experimentation consists of testing the best practices, and putting the teaching and learning from training workshops into practice.

    3. Farm maps
    Mapping a farm with a climate change adaptation approach is the first phase of transforming a conventional field. It helps to analyse crops and
    their yields, and to make decisions on where to improve first.

  8. Community leadership

    8.1 Leadership and advocacy course
    A training course that aims to equip community leaders with basic methods to organise and empower the rural sector in order to carry out local advocacy work.

    8.2 Ecological brigades
    Teaching children to take care of nature and recycle or treat rubbish properly is essential to have clean and healthy communities.