12 November 2013
Rapid population growth, together with climate change and resource overuse, threatens future food security. Finding sustainable solutions to increase agricultural production with fewer resources is essential to ensure sustainable development for future generations. Nuclear techniques are highly effective in helping farmers make the best use of their resources.
On 7 October – 5 November 2013, the IAEA, under the technical cooperation (TC) programme, hosted a group fellowship on agricultural soil and water management to support sustainable crop production in the Asia and the Pacific region. The fellowship brought together 26 fellows from 21 countries, who spent an entire month at the IAEA’s Seibersdorf laboratory near Vienna, working with each other and IAEA experts, and gaining hands-on experience in the application of nuclear techniques for improved farming.
Over the course of four weeks, the fellows received a comprehensive overview of soil and water management in agriculture, including the use of nuclear techniques for water use efficiency, fertilizer use efficiency and soil salinity. The training specifically focused on nutrient cycling and soil organic matter dynamics, soil erosion and conservation agricultural practices, direct measurements of soil water content and on-farm assessment of management factors that affect soil water removal through crop transpiration and soil evaporation using a range of nuclear and related techniques, isotopic techniques for quantifying water and nutrient use efficiency and evaluating crops to drought and salinity tolerance, soil and water sampling for isotopic analysis, and the salinization of soil and water on how to manage salt affected soils and saline waters for crop production.
Group fellowships are a new IAEA initiative. They aim to maximize the impact of training, and to leverage the diverse experience of the participants. Unlike traditional fellowships, which are provided on an individual basis through the TC programme, group fellowships offer a way for participants to share their knowledge and learn from each other. Fellows are able to compare their own local practices, learn from each other about the kind of techniques that are used in different areas and under differing climatic conditions, and see whether they might also apply in their own country. Fellows return home with knowledge acquired not only from the IAEA specialists, but also from each other.
“Group fellowships have proven to be very effective. Providing training to a number of scientists with similar background in a group setting enhances the efficiency of capacity building efforts. Such an activity saves time and is cost-effective while further enhancing knowledge sharing”, said Ho-Seung Lee, Programme Management Officer (PMO) in the Department of Technical Cooperation.
“During this fellowship I learned many methods that I did not know before from other participants, which I can now apply in my own country”, said Duangjai Suriyaarunroj, a fellow from Thailand. “Although, the training lasted for only one month, it was very valuable for us as we learned a lot, not only from IAEA experts but also from each other. We made new friends and really enjoyed the fellowship”, she concluded.
The group fellowship also facilitated a discussion on a potential new regional TC project, through which countries involved in the fellowship training could address issues brought up during the training.
Fellowships are one of the core services provided under the IAEA’s technical cooperation (TC) programme, along with training courses and scientific visits. They are an integral part of the implementation of TC projects in developmental fields of high national priority and serve to strengthen Member State capabilities in the application of nuclear techniques.
The TC programme also provides fellowships to university graduates or their equivalent for a period of up to one year at the IAEA, assisting in the normal activities of an appropriate technical Division. The aim is to provide practical international work experience in nuclear technology and applications or in technical cooperation. Following the training period, fellows return to their home countries and share their acquired experience with their colleagues.
For more information see Fellowships and Scientific Visits: