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Farmbiz Africa remedy for Kenya’s rain-savaged soils

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Smallholders in Kenya are facing an urgent need to rescue their soils following Kenya’s worst floods in three decades to stop their yields falling for all future crops.

Studies show that floods after long periods of drought can damage soils up to 25 times more than ordinary flooding. This leaves soils with less than a fifth of the organic material critical to soil health and plant growth. This can damage crop yields for years ahead. 

It’s possible to do a lot to address this with speedy action.

The urgent need is to get more plant materials and ideally some manure back into the soil.

Plant materials such as old stems, leaves, husks, and straw should be chopped and dug into the soil to rot and provide nutrients taken up by plant roots.

This plant material is mixed in at a rate of about 85 per cent with animal manure making up 15 per cent.

Animal manure helps to increase the rate at which the plant material rots and also returns nutrients into the soil. This can be manure from cows, goats, chickens, etc.

The plant material and manure mix is added to the soil at about one handful for a one-metre by one-metre plot of land.

This should not be used as a mulch but applied to the soil at a depth of about 30cm.

An even better or added solution is to add green fertilizer to the soil by growing deep-rooted green manure crops. Also referred to as cover crops, their roots grow rapidly and up to a depth of 70cm pushing nutrients all through the soil.

The best green manure options for the dry season which are cheap include cowpeas/kunde, sorghum, and millet. Ideally, these crops should be cut before flowering when they still have soft stems so they can be dug back into the soil and decompose quickly. However, the benefits of these green manure crops can still be realised even if the crop is grown to harvest.

This will go a long way to restoring your soils so that your future crops can produce many more bags per acre from the very next season.

Read more:

Kenya’s worst floods in 30 years wreak havoc for farmers causing food price hikes

Kericho maize farmer raises output by 30 bags/acre replacing fertilisers with manure

Fertiliser Crisis: Organic gold manure that doubles farmer yields

Composter doubles manure ‘ripening’ time

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