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Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Demonstration plot established at Kabati

By Robert Eyapan
Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) together with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, MEA Ltd and Kenya Seed Company Ltd on April 28, 2014 established a demonstration plot at Mlima Meza area of Kabati in Laikipia County. The demo plot which has been established at Tabitha Wanjiru’s farm will act as a place where farmers will be taught best farming practices.
Elcy explaining the correct planting procedure
Elcy Kigano, Divisional Crop Officer, Ministry of Agriculture, Sipili division informed farmers that they will be able to benefit from the demo plot as they will be trained on best farming practices from tilling of land to post harvest grain handling.
“This is just the beginning as you will be trained during the entire process of farming. You can only practice Kilimo Biashara if you increase your production,” said Elcy.
Bob Aston from Ng’arua Maarifa Centre said that Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) has been promoting sustainable family farming by stressing its capacity to address hunger, poverty, environmental degradation and climate change.
Bob said they are now trying to ensure that farmers automate their records through Farm Record Management Information System – Kenya (FARMIS Kenya).
“Proper record keeping is important as it will help you to know whether you are making a profit or loss. When you keep your records well it will be easier to monitor your farming activities. This will be possible through FARMIS Kenya,” said Bob.
Certified hybrid seeds from Kenya Seed Company Ltd were planted in the demo plot. The varieties that have been planted are; H520, H624, H629, H626, and H6210.
The five certified hybrid seeds have different characteristics like; H624 is tolerant to grey leaf spot, leaf blight and rust. H6210 has good husk cover and is tolerant to lodging and leaf blight. H629 produce big maize, has good husk cover and is leaf blight tolerant. H626 is tolerant to lodging and most leaf diseases. H520 matures early, is tolerant to leaf rust, lodging and grey leaf spot. H624 is tolerant to grey leaf spot, leaf blight and rust.
Elcy explaining how to mix soil with fertilizer
Soil analysis had been conducted at the farm by MEA Ltd. The analysis report indicated that the soil had become acidic due to continuous use of DAP. The farmers used NPK 23:23:0 in the demo plot.
Elcy said that NPK fertilizer contains nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Nitrogen functions as a means for the plant to produce more chlorophyll. This helps plant foliage to grow strong and allow for a dark green color. Phosphorus aids in the initial growth of plants by contributing to root development.
She said that nitrogen fertilizers are very soluble and move readily in moist soil thus placement with or very near the seed is not necessary to ensure effective utilization. Phosphate fertilizers do not move readily in soil thus placing the band of phosphate near developing seedling roots is most effective while Potassium will move in the soil more readily than phosphorus.
“When planting ensure seeds are not planted directly in contact with fertilizer as this can cause poor germination due to scorching,” said Elcy.
Elcy said that Sipili is a marginal area hence spacing is supposed to be 90 cm by 30 cm. From one line to the next line is supposed to measure 90 cm while from one hole to the next hole is supposed to be 30 cm.
“High yields can only be obtained if the correct number of plants are grown. You are also supposed to ensure there is good management during physiological maturity,” said Elcy.
She advised farmers to practice pure stand as mixing maize and beans together normally leads to reduced yields.
Hole dug for the seedlings should be 8 cm deep when planting when the ground is dry while it should be 5 cm deep when planting when the ground is wet or rather during the rainy season. This will help to prevent losses of the seeds from insect pests and ground squirrels.
Community members planting at the demonstration farm
When hand-planting, put fertilizer in the hole, stir with a panga to mix the fertilizer with the soil, then put the seed. Cover the seed with loose soil.
Elcy advised farmers to always plant early at the beginning of the long rains as yields are greatly reduced by late planting,
“This season it has not rained here in Sipili hence most farmers have not planted while some who had already planted are experiencing a lot of problem their crops have not geminated or have wilted,” said Elcy.
She said that land choked with grass and other weeds will not produce good maize crops while not using certified hybrid seeds and correct fertilizer will lead to low yield.
Similar demonstration plots have also been established at Kahuruko area in Jackson Chege’s farm, Makutano B area at Peter Mwaniki’s farm, Muhotetu at Waweru Kanja’s farm and Naiborom at Charles Nderitu’s farm.
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