More than 20,000 smallholder farmers from the former Western and Rift Valley provinces are recording over 60 per cent increase in sorghum, millet and other cereal yields on some of the most infertile soils in sub – Saharan Africa.
Dubbed precision farming, or Micro – dosing, the process involves the application of small, affordable quantities of fertiliser with the seed at the time of planting or as top dressing three to four weeks after the seed sprouts. This ensures that the tender crop utilises the fertiliser exhaustively, in sharp contrast to spreading fertiliser over the field, which means that many crops compete for the same portion of fertiliser sprayed. Rather than asking how a farmer can maximize yields or proﬁts, micro-dosing asks how a farmer can maximise the returns on a small initial investment that might grow over time, turning deﬁcits into surpluses. Farmers who use micro-dosing apply six- gram doses of fertiliser, about a full bottle cap or a three-finger pinch, in the hole where the seed is placed at the time of planting.
According to the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), this translates to about 67 pounds of fertiliser for every 2.5 acres. This technique uses only about one-tenth of the amount typically used on Wheat.
Yet the Kenyan crops are so starved of nutrients, such as phosphorous, potassium and nitrogen, that even this micro amount often doubles crop yields. Farmers in various areas of the country where micro-dosing is taking shape have also adopted innovative techniques to apply micro-doses of the appropriate fertiliser.
While farmers in Rift Valley use fertiliser measured out in an empty soft drink or beer bottle cap, in central Kenya the farmers measure the fertiliser with a three ﬁnger pinch and apply in it the same hole in which the seed is sown. Where soil is hard, farmers dig small holes before the rain starts, then fill it with manure, if available. When rains begin, they put fertiliser and seeds in the hole and the soil provides a moist environment, encouraging root growth, and the Water is captured instead of running off the hard – crusted soil. By correcting soil deficiencies for essential nutrients with tiny doses, root systems develop and capture more water,increasing yields.
Land degradation affects more than half of Africa, leading to loss of an estimated $42 billion in income and five million hectares of productive land each year.
The majority of farm lands produce poor yields due to poor farming techniques, nutrient deficiency and lack of water. Land degradation is particularly acute in sub-Saharan African regions where long – term overuse of soil and low, unpredictable rainfall are prime reasons for poor food production. The farmers are so poor they take every thing they can out of the soil and are not willing to invest in fertiliser because the growing season is very risky.
The failure to replenish the soil fuels an unrelenting, vicious cycle.
Unless nutrients are replaced, soils are depleted and yields and crop quality decline, leading to widespread hunger and under nutrition.Unable to feed their families or afford to buy food, farmers abandon unproductive land to clear forests and plough new land, and the cycle repeats. Clearing new lands forfarming is blamed for an estimated70 per cent of the deforestation in Africa. It is this equation that is now driving the development of micro-dosing.
We endeavor to keep our content True, Accurate, Correct, Original and Up to Date.
If you believe that any information in this article is Incorrect, Incomplete, Plagiarised, violates your Copyright right or you want to propose an update, please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org indicating the proposed changes and the content URL. Provide as much information as you can and we promise to take corrective measures to the best of our abilities.