Combining approaches: EbA and new technologies

Published: 06 April 2017
Last edited: 16 October 2017

The experimentation with nopal is not the only type of experiments being undertaken in the reserve. Working under CONANP leadership, students and teachers from a local high school (CBTa-22) are adapting an innovative bio-digestor, to convert nopal into high-grade fodder for the cattle and milk industries outside the reserve. The goal is to replace the water-guzzling alfafa-based fodder with nopal-based fodder to reduce the water demand pressure on the wetlands from sources outside the PA, as well as within it. The building block demonstrates the potential that reserves have to act as agents of adaptation beyond their own boundaries. The design of the bio-digestor was made by Universidad Autónoma de Chapingo; the CBTa-22 students are experimenting with it and a mix of urea and nopal needed to increase the quality of the fodder. The nopal needed for the bio-digestor has come from the experimental sites set up as part of Building Block II. First results of the bio-digestor created a sludge that was unpalatable for the cattle. Since then, they have been working on combining the sludge with other types of fodder, and on developing pellets more palatable to the cows.


Sustainable livelihoods
Education, training and other capacity development activities
Alliance and partnership development
Technical interventions and infrastructure
Scale of implementation
Phase of solution

Enabling factors

a) CONANP as a facilitator and promotor of the bio-digestor experiment;

b) Alliance formation between government, producers and technical colleges and universities;

c) Local producers who are willing to provide cattle as tasters for the fodder produced by the bio-digestor;

d) Teachers and student driving forward the research and experimentation over a number of years (six years, to date)

e) Good technical understanding of bio-digestor development.

Lessons learned

a) Experimental, technical innovations require a commitment of resources. Being able to make alliances with a technical college can provide the necessary resources to maintain the innovation process over time;

b) CONANP as an intermediary between the bio-digestor developers and the cattle producers, is invaluable especially when volunteer producers are needed to provide cattle that will test out the fodder.

c) This building block demonstrates that PA staff can be a key agent of adaptation outside its own boundaries, so as to reduce pressures on itself.

d) In the specific case of Cuatrociénegas, it is a salutary lesson for other PAs that the area is investing its own resources (as well as that of the local college CBTa-22) to come up with innovative solutions for fodder production and water demand management (experimented on within its own boundaries), for adoption by businesses outside its boundaries.