Fall 2015 Borlaug LEAP Fellow Alie Kamara currently holds a BSc degree in Chemistry and an MSc degree in Soil Science. He is pursuing his PhD at Njala University in his home country of Sierra Leone, working on modeling soil erosion and nutrient leaching in the Bolilands, one of the country’s five agro-ecological zones. He is working on understanding the risks to nutrient loss through leaching and soil loss through water erosion, how agricultural practices in this region accelerate these processes, and their overall impact. He hopes to acquire theoretical and practical skills on modeling nutrient leaching in soils and the use of simulation models (e.g. the Erosion-Productivity Impact Calculator - EPIC model) for developing management scenarios, as well as acquiring additional skills in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing, particularly with applications to land cover mapping.
Alie has worked for Njala University for twelve years, along with a number of local and international research projects on agricultural research e.g. Urban and Peri-Urban Agricultural (UPA) Research, Organic Farming in West Africa, Agricultural and Environmental Benefits from Biochar Use in ACP Countries, Integrated Soil Fertility Management for Food Security. He has also served in different leadership positions: acting head of Department of Soil Science, Secretary General of the Njala University Society for Academic Advancement and as coordinator and team member of international research projects. Throughout his work as a soil scientist in Sierra Leone, he has come to realize that a potent threat to sustainable soil productivity and the achievement of food security in Sierra Leone is the combined effect of soil erosion and nutrient leaching. His vision is to ensure the sustainable use and management of soil resources of Sierra Leone for sustainable crop production and food security by identifying strategies for minimizing these issues.
During Alie's fellowship, he will be working with two mentors. Dr. Richard Cooke, at the University of Illinois, will help show him how to conduct non-point source nutrient modeling while Alie was in the US. Dr. Cooke is a professor and mentor, and is currently researching best practices for drainage systems to improve water quality and the design of water-harvesting systems in developing countries. With Dr. Sander Zwart, currently at AfricaRice in Benin, Alie is investigating land use and land-cover mapping using GIS and remote sensing. Dr. Zwart is the Principal Researcher for remote sensing and GIS at AfricaRice and has extensive international experience. Alie expects to complete his thesis research and receive his PhD in 2017.