By Joshua Kato
According to Professor Kitungulu Zaake, a soil scientist, to get the best out of fertilizer use, the following are important:
-Use the right seed variety, this can be known by consulting your seed supplier.
-Good land preparation, this includes early ploughing before rains set in.
-Appropriate weed management, this involves timely weeding.
-Pest and disease control, because the presence of pests affects the balance of nutrients in the soils.
-Best post-harvest handling.
For appropriate nutrient use follow the 4R nutrient stewardship.
-Right source of nutrients
-Right time/stage of plant growth
-Fertilizer applications should be done at the beginning of rainy seasons.
-Not cost-effective to irrigate without fertilization
-Not to fertilize in acid, compacted, dry soils.
-Use soluble fertilizers (N&K) in split doses.
-Intensification is necessary when fertilizers are used (more plants per unit area)
-Farmers’ training needed in the use of fertilizers and soil sampling for analyses
Other fertility enhancers
-Practice crop rotation by changing seasonal crops grown on each block every season. For example, if you grow maize in the first season, grow legumes like beans in the second season.
-Plant shade trees to reduce the impact of the sun
-Mulch the soils to prevent over-evaporation of water from the soils
-Dig trenches, contours and canals to help in water capture and retention, plus stopping soil erosion.