Zai Hole

June 30, 2021

Zai Hole -  \ Zī ˈhōl\ noun

A small planting pit, ranging in size between 30-120 cm wide and 10-70 cm deep, where organic matter such as manure or compost is mixed with soil and buried before planting seeds inside.

Zai Holes in the Forest Garden

Zai holes offer a great opportunity for Forest Garden farmers to improve growing conditions and yields. Zai holes or pits are often used in dryland systems. Instead of tilling year after year, small pits are dug once and then used perennially for planting staple and vegetable crops. Holes can be dug in the off season when farmers are less occupied with field activities. Because they are small depressions in the land, they protect small plants from wind, help to capture and retain moisture, and assist the farmers in targeting smaller areas for higher nutrient, compost, and other organic material application, as opposed to treating an entire field. Plants that grow in these conditions are healthier and give higher yields. 

A study in Burkina Faso compared a field of millet with Zai Holes and another without. The results showed that without Zai Holes, the production level was at 350 kg/hectare but with Zai Holes implemented, that number rose to above 1000 kg/hectare, sometimes almost 2000 kg/hecatre