News and knowhow for farmers

Kikuyu farmer doubles onion production with goat manure

A farm in Ndeiya in Kikuyu, Kiambu County is using goat manure to grow red onions a practice which has enabled it double its production from seven tonnes an acre to fifteen tonnes per acre.

Veteran Farm which is 30 acres large was used to grow maize, chilli, kales and cabbages among other crops beginning 2016 but the plan changed in favour of red onions and garlic when the farm started adopting smart organic farming technology using drip irrigation and goats manure as mulch and fertiliser.

“It is only that most farmers may not be aware, goat manure can be composted and used as mulch and it can prevent about 90 per cent water lose from the soil for crops use especially during dry seasons,” said Lucy Wangare, the farm’s manager and agronomist.

In addition, the manure is more nutritious to crops as compared to other types of livestock manure because the goats like feeding on herbs which is fully digested hence their droppings are less messy than many other types of manure.

“Goat manure contains high content of nitrogen as compare to cows, sheep, and chicken manure. This nitrogen further enhances the growth of plants and crops by nitrogen fixation, hence it increases the yield of crops at least by 20 per cent,” said Wangare.

“Though we use it to grow the red onions, goat manure can be used in nearly any type of garden, including that of flowering plants, herbs, vegetables, and fruit trees.”

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Other agro-experts adds that using goat manure, falling of their fruits before maturity (ripen) due to natural calamities like wind, heavy rainfall, storm and others can decrease by 50 per cent.

In fact goat manure fertilizer can help gardeners produce healthier plants and crop yields.

“Goats not only produce neater pelletized droppings, but their manure doesn’t typically attract insects or burn plants as does manure from cows, buffaloes or horses. Goat manure is virtually odorless and is beneficial for the soil to maintain its PH,” Argues experts.

The manure contains adequate amounts of the nutrients that plants need for optimal growth, especially when the goats have bed in stalls. As urine collects in goat droppings, the manure retains more nitrogen, thus increasing its fertilizing potency.

Currently, the red onions occupy nine acres of the farm while garlic takes an acre but the acreage under the two crops keep increasing each season according to the market demand.

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An acre can produce up to 15 tonnes and the farm sells 1-3 tonnes per week. A tonne goes at a minimum of Sh50,000 which translates to over Sh100,000 per week. The farm supplies their produce to supermarkets, schools, hospitals and high end estates within Nairobi.

“In a good season we can sell and raise enough revenue which can enable us run the farm for a whole one year after deducting the profit,” said Wangare.

She says there are plans to turn the farm into a model farm where farmers and students can be trained in crop production.

 “Plans are underway to make Veteran Farm a model farm where farmers around and agriculture students from colleges can have chance to learn horticultural crop production,” said Wangare.

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