Archive for September, 2010

Monique Leslie, who is conducting fieldwork in Nicaragua for CuencaClima, provides an inside of the rainy season that affects the farmers in the Teustepe municipality.

Walking through Jose Felix's mixed fields of corn and beans. He's one of the more progressive farmers in the area, with drainage systems and shade grown crops.

Limited to a short growing season, farmers in the Teustepe municipality are very busy in the rainy months of June through October. It is at this time that lands are cleared of weeds, and crops are planted, nurtured and protected from pests. If the season goes well, families will harvest enough beans, corn and millet to last a year, with enough left over to

Weather station in El Jocote. Locals built a barbed wire fence around it to keep it safe. So far, we've had nothing but good experiences with the equipment.

Last year the rainy season was abnormally short, meaning that many families did not harvest enough crops to last them through the year. Outside food donations helped, but many farmers worry about their future food security. This year is looking better, and if the current precipitation patterns continue, farmers should have enough food to feed
themselves and to generate income.

Having been to the area before during the dry season, I was fascinated to see the difference during the rainy season. To my surprise, the streams seemed low given the amount of recent rain. It didn’t take long for me to experience a heavy rainfall. Roads were shut down and people (myself and my family included!) became stranded in our homes for many hours. It turns out that the stream levels do raise, and quite drastically, but only for a short time. These types of flashy watersheds are unable to retain rainfall, allowing precious water to runoff before it can infiltrate soils and nourish crops and native vegetation.

An old check dam in El Jocote built in the 1970's. People wash their laundry here, and cattle drink the water.

Weather patterns are an important aspect in understanding watershed behavior. Precipitation, wind and sunlight, are integral components for plant life, and dictate the ability of a landscape to produce crops, generate productive soils and support healthy forests. A good understanding of local weather patterns starts with detailed observations. Part of why I was in Nicaragua was to further that goal through the installation of a satellite modem, allowing for real time weather data monitoring.

A combination of local knowledge and weather data will lead to improved climate change monitoring. Water harvesting possibilities can also be more effectively designed. Equally important, is the possibility to identify more diverse and appropriate crops that may be better suited for the challenging climatic conditions.

Some beautiful Bramadero faces!

Walking around the countryside of Boaco, I always had a group of friends with me, to keep me on the right trail, to answer my numerous questions, and to install equipment. Most importantly, my local friends were there to keep a watch out for those dark rain clouds that had the ability to turn our little jaunt up a hill into a muddy slide back home.

Mayquelin and Juneili, wonderful guides.

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