Friday, April 19, 2024
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A Good Farmer Cares For Soil

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Anyone setting out to cultivate crops normally tries to get an area with soil that can produce and sustain high crop yields.

Farmers have to consider other factors such as closeness to a natural water source, climate and access to public transport.

Commercial farmers should get experts to test soil samples in a laboratory to understand the type of soil on which they want to farm and whether it is suitable for the crops they want to grow. Lab tests will then determine what fertilisers to use.

Qualities of good soil

Some of the characteristics of good soil include good depth.

The soil has to be deep enough for the crop roots to have enough volume to draw nutrients and firmly hold and support the stem. Water retention capacity is also a characteristic of good soil.

Farmland should not be located where rain water settles or where a river overflows.

The vegetation of a given place may indicate the degree of soil fertility. If the soil cannot support weed growth, it could be useless for agriculture, unless the farmer plans to use fertilisers.

Some good agricultural land is located in the rain shadow area and there is need for irrigation for successful farming.

One way of sustaining the soil’s natural fertility is to allow crop residue, tree leaves and dry weeds to decompose on the farm.

Some farmers bury into the ground all weeds that are not likely to sprout.

Many leguminous crops have nitrates, which should be returned to the soil by burying the crop residue.

Many animal farmers give the residues to farm animals as fodder. This is fine as long as the animal droppings and the urine is used as manure on the farm.

Some people use the animal droppings and dry leaves or grass to make compost manure.

Cutting costs

To cut costs, a farmer should produce their own manure. Artificial fertilisers are expensive and require careful application as they could kill some micro-organisms that are responsible for turning organic matter into soil nutrients.

Natural organic matter is the best for the soil.

Erosion

Some farmers may damage the soil by exposing it to erosion.

Planting rows of fodder grass or shrubs and digging trenches across the hilly terrain will reduce soil erosion. The shrubs or trees will serve as wind-breaks.

Mulching the garden will not only protect the soil against erosion, but also protect the roots of the crops from direct sunlight, hence reducing water loss from the soil.

When the mulch decomposes, it becomes manure, making the soil richer and more productive

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