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Monday, 5 May 2014

Demonstration plot established at Naibrom

By James Maina
Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) together with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, MEA Ltd and Kenya Seed Company Ltd on April 30, 2014 established a demonstration plot at Naibrom area in Laikipia County. The demo plot which has been established at Charles Nderitu’s farm will act as a place where farmers will be taught best farming practices.
James Kamau, the Divisional Agriculture Officer, 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.
“The demonstration plot will provide an avenue for farmers to learn good farming practices. We expect that you will be able to replicate what you will learn in your farms,” said Kamau.
Elcy Kigano, Divisional Crop Officer, Ministry of Agriculture, Sipili division urged farmers to always attend various trainings organized for them as they will be able to improve their knowledge as well as improve the way they farm.
“We want you to improve your production and this is why we have been at the forefront of urging farmers to practice Kilimo Biashara. We want farmers to practice farming as a business,” 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. Through FARMIS Kenya you will be able to extract a profit and loss statement at the end of each season,” 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.
Farmers digging farrows for maize
Kamau informed the farmers that they decided on five (5) different varieties so that they can compare them and see the ones that will do well in the area.
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 Naibrom 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.
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.
Farmers planting in the demo plot
Samwel Kiige, Field Officer Ministry of Agriculture, Sipili division advised farmers to always plant early at the beginning of the long rains as yields are greatly reduced by late planting,
Kiige 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.
Kiige also encouraged beans farmers to use Biofix as it is effective as a growth agent on the legumes because it helps accelerate the growth of Nitrogen fixing nodules, leading to faster maturity and higher yields.
He informed farmers when using Biofix to add 2 tablespoons of sugar to 300ml clean water in a soda bottle and shake well to dissolve. They should then mix with the bean seeds until all the seeds are wet.
The inoculated seeds should be kept in a shade for a short duration before planting in a well prepared moist bed. Ensure you do not use Biofix during the dry weather or when the soil is not moist,” said Kiige.
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 Kabati at Tabitha Wanjiru’s farm.
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