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    Nematodes and bacterial wilt are some of the deadliest infections affecting tomatoes, pepper, capsicum and other crops in the solanacea family.

    No amount of chemical fumigation can control these soil-borne diseases. Once they attack the crops, nothing can be done to save either the seedlings or the resources that have been spruced up.

    In addition to crops rotation, planting bags are helping farmers avoid such losses.

    Chris Mutune of Amiran Kenya says famers must, however, test their soils against the various infections and parasites before filling the plastic containers.

    “Farm hygiene is key in controlling the spread of many diseases, whether treatable or not. In the cases of soil-borne diseases-which do not have remedy, farmers must collect soils from where a crop affected by a particular infection has not been grown for a while,” he says.

    Knowing that solanacea family has not been grown in a particular place for years does not shield a farmer. Confirming that the soil is actually safe for use is the first step to successful use of bags, Mutune says.

    READ ALSO: Benefits of growing crops in bags

    Other crops in the solanacea family include, sweet and Irish potatoes, eggplant, among others.

    Amiran runs learning lessons for interested, who yearn to know how to do the tests on their own before packing soils into planting bags.

    The bags are available in most agrovets, with Amiran Kenya selling theirs at Sh25 each.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    Hundreds of thousands of livestock in Narok County are at risk of contracting a dangerous and highly contagious, foot and mouth disease, which has emerged in the southern region.

    In spite of the viral diseases having less than 5 per cent mortality rate in adult cattle, it highly affects milk and meat production which are the main products from livestock.

    Although the disease, which has been reported in Transmara Sub-county, mostly affects cattle it also attacks goats and sheep. The county has more than 1.8 million cattle, goats and sheep.

    READ ALSO: Fact on Foot and Mouth disease

    Affected animals show reduced milk production, massive weight loss, mouth and feet blisters, froth from the mouth, quivering lips, among others symptoms.

    Quarantine

    John Mugambi, an animal health researcher a Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation says massive losses can be averted by three main ways.

    “The immediate action farmers must take once upon suspicion is reporting to the authorities for a quarantine to be effected. But farmers can also restrict movement of their herds to common drinking and grazing areas because the infection is highly contagious,” he said.

    Vaccination

    The researcher says vaccination is the most effective control method, because it cannot be cured. Vaccination costs less than Sh150 and can be accessed from animal health service providers.

    “More than one viruses cause this disease and each has its own vaccine. But a multivalent vaccine is the most effective because it does not call for scrutiny of the type of virus to be targeted,” Mr Mugambi said.

    Salt on dry grass

    Another preventive measure is application of Magadi soda at the entry point into and out of cow sheds and homesteads-for free-range farmers. The salt, which is found in most agrovets, sterilises the feet of the animals and the visitors. It should be spread on dry grass.

    Danger

     

    Fears of further spread are rife in this county, which is dominantly home to pastoralist community, the Maasai. According the county government statistics, there are 727,480 cattle, 995,241 sheep and 729,722 goats.

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    Immediate laying a of a net over a nursery bed can prevent pest which attack seedlings as the intuders search for cell sap, leaves or stems to feed on.

    Many a time, seedlings die following heavy infestation, which also puts them at risk of contracting diseases transmitted by pests like insects.

    A new net or repaired one would keep away grasshoppers and snails that feed on the leaves of the young plants. Caterpillars attack leaves and stems of tomatoes, cabbage, chilly, among others.

    Similarly, nets would also keep off moths, which lay eggs on the seedling at night. The eggs later hatch into larvae before cutting the stems, or feed on the leaves.

    White flies cause massive damage on young plants too. They suck the cell sap besides transmitting viral diseases. Notably, Access Agriculture, an agricultural research institution, says the flies die after the first application of pesticide. By the second and subsequent application, the fly could have created resistance against the pesticide.

    That means the pesticide will go to waste besides endangering humans and the environment because of their chemical components.

    Laying a shield does not require much expertise. With a locally available net a farmer can pin small posts around the nursery bed and lay strong sticks from one end to the other to elevate the net to about one mitre.

    Approximately one mitre of the material is covered by soil around the bed to prevent entry of pest.

    Watering can be done directly from outside the shield. It should be removed only when the seedlings are ready to be transplanted.

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