THE GREAT DISCOVOREY
On 5th Sep 2007; at 8.00am I took the farm tractor mounted with the planter with a mission to do the craziest thing in the farm. To plant baby corn seeds in block m03; a block which was still green with vegetation having done the last frenchbeans harvest the previous day. Everyone that morning could not understand what I had woken up for. As I told the driver to move on, he reluctantly obliged, although you could tell from his eyes he was skeptical of the new planting system. I remember the then baby corn supervisor asking me in private that evening if I’m intending to deny them job by having a poor baby corn crop.
One year down the line the no till technology or zero tillage as my agronomy consultant Mr. Pierluigi Maggioni prefers to call it, has made a turn around to the production yield for baby corn and frenchbeans in Kantara farm. The average yields for baby corn shot up by over 40% while on beans by around 20%.This is on top of the savings that has been experienced with the reduction of fuel consumption by slightly over 75%per month. The labor cost has drastically reduced by over 50%. Weeds population has reduced to a manageable level. You don’t have to do any weeding on baby corn throughout the crop cycle if you have a post emergence herbicide done in time. On frenchbeans there’s only one weeding down from three at the late stage of the crop cycle. The incidences of pests and diseases have proportionally reduced to a normal threshold automatically reducing our sprays by a very good margin.
“No till technology is the way to go”, commented the agronomist while reacting to the new innovation. Most horticultural farms are still working on their soils with heavy machinery with a lot of investment. Although known to be an expensive business in terms of imputs; it’s the time for the policy makers in the industry to look for other ways of keeping the business profitable judging from the current economic handicaps that has hit hard on the business industry. With the current inflations, the cost of inputs is rising every other day while the market is still a challenge on competition and fluctuations of prices. No till can also be easily adoptable in the Organic Farming Sector which is rapidly gaining roots in the world’s food safety protocols. Despite the no till option being around in many parts of the world for several decades, not many of us are in touch with its possibility. More campaigns should also be put in place to promote such farming techniques to the benefit of business investors and even local community.This could add several other tones of produce in Kenya’s production accounts.
The writer is the Farm manager Kantara Farm (VEGPRO) – Thika
It makes me happy to read this. Lets hope more exporters turn to this form of farming. Not only is it cost effective, more interestingly though less obvious, it is also a ‘soil biota friendly’ method of production. ……………a stones throw away from organic production………..:)