By Steve Jalo
Soil disturbance and poor land preparation has been alluded to as the main cause for crop failure by experts. Farmers in Narok are crying foul after banks and financial institutions threaten to auction their properties to recover their loans. Farmers in Narok County are looking for the buyers of their lands whose title deeds are held with the financial institutions in fear of the banks auctioning their title deeds.
The governor of Narok County Samuel Ole Tunai, asked the institutions that loaned farmers to be lenient to them as they correct their mess to repay the loans. The General manager QuipBank Ms. Syombua Jenniffer has also waded into the debate. While speaking in Narok, the Quipbank General manager asked farmers to shun soil disturbance and shoddy land preparation to avoid loses.
She explained that any given kind of crop grows well and produces better yields in a well-prepared soil. “Good soil preparation incorporates exclusion or amalgamation of crop wreckage and any shrubbery that may be seen to compete with the crop”, she enlightened.
Tilling purposes to turn over the topsoil and slacken the trampled soil below, to achieve a good gradient for forming the hills or ridges, and provide a soft, uniform medium where storage root growth is not impeded.
Slackening the soil upsurges the oxygen capacity, which conditions the growth of microorganisms that decompose organic matter. Proper land cultivation also helps control weeds. The Quipbank General Manager said that farmers should be using chisel plough as opposed to the normal plough as it guarantees better yields due to its ability to penetrate hard surfaces unlike the normal plough.
Ms. Jenifer Syombua said that QuipBank has invested Kenya shilling 1 Billion to aid agricultural growth in East African region, as the region heavily depends on agriculture as the major economy backbone.
“Quipbank will continue supporting your (farmers) quest for better yields. We will offer free training and even advice which kind of equipment and farm implement to use where and when for better farm productivity. We cannot continue to sit at the fence while our mothers toil in vain. We are here to help you better your living standards through agriculture,” Said Jennifer.
She said 70% of work is done during the land preparation and if farmers will miss not adopt appropriate technology then losses will be order of the day and food security in the region will remain to be a plastic dream.
Employing heavy equipment, such as tractors, for land preparation may compact the sub-soil producing compaction coating. This problem is common on clay soils as compared on sandy soils. A hard pan obstructs drainage, triggering water logging, poor growth of useful bacteria, and poor root development, which subsequently leads to poor crops growth and poor quality storage roots.
Farms should be ploughed when humid but not too wet. Tilling of dry or very wet soil interferes with the soil structure, triggering poor drainage and aeration, surface crusting, cracking allowing entry of worms, and greater vulnerability to soil erosion.
Further cultivation after crop establishment may be undertaken to control weeds, or to reform ridges (hill up) after fertilizer side dressing or to prevent weevil infestation. However, disturbance of soil in the ridges should be minimized to avoid root damage.
Research shows that the less you disturb your soils the more productive they become. Preservation cultivation maintains a farm into a condition that permits the soils to gather and preserve all the humidity and rainwater that is available what soil expert’s term as “Putting Rain in the Bank”. This helps the farms produce good yields even during the less rainy and drier seasons because this type of cultivation preserves the moisture a condition that is necessary for better yields.
Jenifer said that this type of land tillage helps a farmer to only cultivate the part he/she is intending to plant into, without disturbing the part in between. With this the water will run in the direction of the growing crop where it is required. This form of tilling also breaks up plough pans caused by unadventurous tilling such as disc- tilling
She argued that this method of farm preparation saves time and farming costs by almost 60% as opposed to unconventional farming.
Lack of best practices in farming has been a thorny issue in Africa. This costs farmers billion of shillings every season.