minimum tillage

Community Inspired by Demo Plots

The 94 farmers trained so far in this new program said that what convinced them to sign up for conservation agriculture (CA) training was seeing the healthy green sorghum and beans in the program’s demonstration plots. The program conducted an awareness campaign prior to training by setting up demo plots in the villages.

When farmers were invited to compare the CA plots with neighboring fields, the sorghum was tall and about ready to tassel, and the lablab beans used as a cover crop to retain moisture and fix nitrogen in the soil were green and healthy-looking.  It was easy to see at a glance that the CA crops were in much better shape, so the farmers wanted to learn how to replicate those results.

The program area was chosen because of widespread food insecurity due to low crop yields from poor soils, low rainfall, and insect damage after harvest. The first group of 94 farmers has been trained in such CA practices as minimum tillage, intercropping, crop rotation, cover crops and mulching, all of which improve the soil and retain moisture. They are planning to use CA on their home plots at the start of the coming rainy season, and will receive further training on airtight grain storage and growing vegetables in their yards. The vegetables will supply much-needed food and increase nutritional diversity during the dry season when food is scarce.

Future training sessions will focus on establishing clean sources of drinking water and small- scale irrigation options for watering the kitchen gardens.

Caption: Farmers Daniel and Grace pose by a demo plot of very healthy sorghum

Tanzania Chamwino Program         
Led by Mennonite Central Committee and Local Partner Diocese of Central Tanganyika (DCT)
Story based on a report by Musa Chilemu. Photo by Lister Nyang’anyi.

 

09/28/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Mulching Means More Maize

Salome spends a lot less time on farm work because the mulching she does suppresses weeds and frees her from hoeing, a task that used to consume most of her time.  

Like most farmers in this dry region of Kenya, Salome’s maize yields were increasingly disappointing until she tried a number of techniques aimed at building soil fertility and retaining moisture.  This harvest, Salome’s production tripled in spite of a lack of rain.  She had improved her soil with such conservation agriculture practices as minimum tillage, applying manure as fertilizer, crop rotation, agroforestry, and using drought-tolerate varieties. But, for Salome, the technique she most appreciates is mulching. With less overall work, her harvest increased from one to four 220-pound bags of maize in the same small plot.

She and other farmers have also started practicing better post-harvest grain handling and storage, including drying maize on tarps in the sun to prevent the poisonous fungus aflatoxin. Many are storing their grain now in hermetically sealed bags that prevent moisture and pests without chemicals. Higher yields and reduced post-harvest losses mean more overall food for their families, more to sell, and more to plant the following year.

Participant farmers are also planting trees to produce fruit, fuel, wood, shade, and mulching materials. All these and other improved practices are taught at the program’s two hands-on Farmer Field Schools and disseminated through their communities by trained facilitators. When they see the great results that conservation farming yields, area farmers go on to put their new knowledge to work on their own farms.

Kenya Tigania encompasses 7 Communities, 200 Households, 1,000 Individuals
Led by World Renew and local partner ADS - Mt Kenya

09/14/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More
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