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Stinging-leaves organic fertiliser increases yields 48% 

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Nettle leaves soaked in water provide an organic fertiliser rich in crucial nutrients that boost plant growth and improve crop yields.

Research has shown that applying nettle fertiliser in green beans increases yield by up to 48 per cent while also improving the height of the plants and their leaf area.

Also referred to as burning or stinging nettle thanks to the prickly hairs on its surface, the vegetable which often grows in the wild, is fermented to form a homemade mixture before being poured into the soil or sprayed on leaves.

For farmers across Kenya and particularly in Central Kenya, nettles, or thafai as they are locally called, are widespread and easily accessible plants as they are used in flavouring mukimo– a traditional dish made from mashed potatoes, maize, peas, spinach, and onions.

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Nettles must be harvested using gloves, long-sleeved clothing, and trousers that protect the skin from getting in contact with the plant.  

Plucked nettle leaves are pounded to expose more surface area to bacteria which ferment the nettles faster and filled into a bucket.

This is covered with water and is left for three to four weeks while closed. A farmer can stir the mixture but this is not a must. The brewing fertiliser also has a pungent smell.

This is diluted at a 1:10 ratio making a strong-smelling concoction that looks like watery tea.

This is applied to plants weekly to avoid burning their leaves.

The nettle extract is high in nitrogen phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium which helps boost leaf and root growth in all plants. It can be used to replace half of chemical fertilisers to reduce their overdependence or in conjunction with other organic fertilisers in chemical-free farming.

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Beyond grain yields, the nettle tea fertiliser also improved the height of plants, the size of leaves, seed pod sizes as well as the root length

The fertiliser also works on the soil by improving its ability to breathe.

A plastic and not a metallic container should be used to store the nettle fertiliser to avoid oxidisation which leads to rusting. 

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