Organic fertiliser saves Mwea farmer's rice from drought

Mwea Rice.JPG

Farmers work in rice fields. One farmer from the county has reported that his rice was never affected by the recent drought, a fact he links to the organic fertiliser, DI Grow Green from Dynapharm Kenya. PHOTO BY NATIONAL IRRIGATION BOARD. 

A Kirinyaga County farmer, who top-dressed his field with an organic fertiliser, is expecting to harvest rice from the one and half acre piece despite the recent dry spell that ravaged the crop in the region. 

The almost two months drought that hit most parts of the country, caused drying of rice in the Mwea basin, where flood irrigation sustains the crop from planting to maturity.

Joseph Kimani applied DI Grow green a few weeks after germination of the rice to boost growth, but he was surprised to see the crop still green after the rains failed and the swampy area dried up.

“My neighbours top-dressed with the usual calcium ammonium nitrate and other fertilisers; I used DI Grow Green organic fertiliser. Although the soil cracked due to lack of water, my rice sustained the stress until now that it has drizzled for the first time,” Kimani said.

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Dynapharm Kenya Agronomist Michael Mwangi said the organic fertiliser has high concentration of humic acid and seas weed, which aid crops to withstand drought by reversing the opening and closing of the stomata.

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Water loss and gaseous exchange in plants take place via stomata, mostly during the day. Stamata open during the day, among other factors, low levels of carbon dioxide in the cells. The opening allows for more intake of the gas for photosynthesis.

“Humic acid may be causing the reversed opening of the stomata. Instead of all stomata opening when it is hot, they remain closed until late evening and in the morning when the weather is cool to control loss of water through transpiration,” Mwangi said.

However, Mwangi said, as study is underway to determine how the components of the fertiliser working together to help crops withstand drought other than the intended growth stimulation.

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According to U-Mate International Inc, a US organic fertiliser manufacture, humic acid slows evaporation by stabilizing soil temperature during rapid weather changes. The acid particles also bind water particles, therefore, preventing their loss to the atmosphere.

 The rice is about two and half months old and it is flowering.

Kimani added 50ml of DI Grow Green into 20 litres of water.  For one acre, he applied 250ml of the organic fertiliser, which is manufactured in Malaysia.

Contact Mwangi on +254714925956