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Important Soil nutrients every fruit farmer should know

Symptoms of nutrient deficiency are common to fruit farmers. However, multiple nutrition disorders can occur simultaneously which makes it complicated for farmers to diagnose production problems. To determine the nutrients that are deficient in the soil, farmers should have their soil analyzed by experts. Protein is an important element required by living organisms for growth and development. One of the elements present in proteins is Nitrogen, which is a component of chlorophyll, DNA, RNA, amino acids, alkaloids, and enzymes. In fruit farming, various nutrients play an important role in enhancing the growth and quality of fruits. Commercial fruit farming is being embraced in various parts of the country due to its high returns. Watermelon, for instance, is a fruit with a short maturity period, high yields, high demand, and ready market. The fruit is composed of 92 percent water, making watermelon a suitable fruit when it is hot.

The goal of every fruit farmer is to produce high-quality fruits that satisfy the consumers. For instance, melon consumers look for quality fruits with firm flesh which means that quality and firmness are paramount.

The quality of fruits is determined by the availability of nutrients. During the establishment, vegetative growth, flowering, and fruit development stage, balanced fertilizer and manure application. The availability of all the nutrients helps in producing firm and tasty fruits. These nutrients also boost the strength and elasticity of the fruits and hence a longer shelf life.

Fruit Firmness

Some important nutrients that help in improving fruit firmness include:

Calcium

During the early growth stage, a lot of calcium is required to enhance leaf production. Although a small percentage of calcium is found in the fruit, calcium should be maintained at 15% to minimize fruit cracking and maintain quality firmness. High levels of calcium help in thickening the cell walls and, therefore, a firm and high-quality fruit.

Magnesium

Magnesium is an important nutrient for enhancing chlorophyll in plants. It stabilizes cell membranes and enables the metabolism and movement of carbohydrates. Chlorosis is a common symptom of magnesium deficiency whereby the leaves to turn from green to yellow. If the magnesium deficiency prolongs, necrosis develops between the veins making the leaves of the fruit trees to curl downwards. If the deficiency continues, the leaves fall off, the plant weakens and eventually dies. This is common in citrus trees. However, magnesium should be applied at a balanced rate with Potassium, Ammonium, and Calcium to enhance the firmness of the fruits.

Fruit Quality

Nitrogen

Nitrogen plays an important role in enhancing the taste and sugar content of the fruits. However, excessive application of nitrogen results in rots and rind blemishes.

Phosphorus

Phosphorus enhances flower formation, root growth, and fruit setting. It provides energy to the plants required for photosynthesis and respiration in form of ATP. Also, it helps the plants to produce thicker skins.

Potassium

Potassium helps in increasing the sugar content of the fruit at harvest. It enables the activation of enzymes for the production of sugars and proteins. It also helps in maintaining the turgidity of cells hence making photosynthesis efficient. In strawberry, potassium increases the acid and sugar content, making the berries tastier. Potassium regulates transpiration ( the opening and closing of stomata) and enhances the translocation of nitrates.

Manganese

Manganese promotes photosynthesis in plants. It facilitates the formation of radicals during water splitting. The biochemical process happens when manganese contributes to the necessary electrons. Manganese deficiency can be facilitated by environmental factors such as extremely hot weather, ozonated water used for irrigation, and poisonous gases from motor vehicles.

Zinc

Zinc plays an essential role in promoting protein synthesis, optimal fruit set, and fruit quality. It enhances the growth of shoots and roots of plants. Deficiency of zinc results to reduced fruit size, fruit number, and decreased yields. Also, it results to necrosis, and veinal chlorosis. The availability of Zinc is reduced by bicarbonates and high pH. Zinc foliar fertilizers are more effective compared to soil fertilizers.

Boron

Boron is required in plants for auxin activity, cell division, the formation of cell walls, xylem differentiation, the formation of apical meristem, metabolism of nucleic acid, and inhibition of callose formation. It also enhances reproduction and pollination and counters the harmful effects of Aluminum.

Since the nutrients play different roles, proper fertilization should be ensured. For instance, farmers should apply nitrogen-based fertilizers to enhance the leaf color, fruit quality, and to increase the nitrogen content in the soil. Farmers should also use fertilizers rich in calcium, phosphorus, and Magnesium, Zinc, and Boron to maintain steady growth and high-quality fruits.

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How to Manage Anthracnose in Watermelon

Anthracnose in Watermelon

Over the years, the demand for watermelon has been increasing rapidly, both locally and internationally. Watermelon has become a crucial part of most fruit salads. It is common to find melon slices served in groceries, alongside lunches during weddings, conferences, cooperate retreats, and also at homes. The success of watermelon farming, however, depends on the quality of fruits and the overall yield. When the fruits are affected by pests and diseases, most likely, nobody will be willing to buy them. Anthracnose is a destructive fungal disease that can ruin your watermelon farming venture if it is not controlled. If not controlled, it can damage the fruits and lead to vine death. When the plants are severely infected, especially when there are numerous lesions, anthracnose causes vine defoliation leading to low-quality fruits and a significant yield reduction.

Symptoms of Anthracnose in Watermelon

This disease is common in cucurbits such as melon and cucumber. At its early stages, water-soaked spots appear on the leaves which become brown as the disease progresses. Eventually, these spots darken and expand over the surfaces with the foliar lesions developing cracked centers. When stems and petioles are infected, they develop shallow, elongated, tan lesions that girdle the stem resulting to plant wilting. Infected fruits form circular, sunken, black lesions, providing an ideal environment for the formation of acervuli (small fruiting bodies). Under humid conditions, acervuli produce conidia which makes the lesions to have a pinkish color, a unique characteristic of anthracnose. When the disease gets to the pedicels of young fruits, the fruit either abort or shrivel.

Conditions for Disease development

Colletotrichum orbiculare, the causative agent of anthracnose, mostly comes in the seed or infected crop debris. The fungus can be spread by overhead irrigation, insects, splashing water, farm equipment, and field workers. The development of the disease is favored by warm weather and high humidity. The optimum temperature for anthracnose is 24°C. Later infection may inhibit the marketability of the fruits during storage, shipping, and display.

How to Control Anthracnose in Watermelon

The disease develops and spreads in warm, moist conditions, although the fungus can be carried in seeds, and infected debris. Infected vines should, therefore, be removed from the farm and destroyed. Farmers can also implement a comprehensive preventative fungicide program to prevent anthracnose.

Non-chemical control method

  • Avoid composting infected plants. Instead, they should be removed and destroyed.
  • Use varieties resistant from anthracnose.
  • Plant certified watermelon seeds and healthy plants.
  • Plant trees in well-drained soil.
  • Plant the watermelon in well-drained soils.
  • Ensure constant crop rotation with non-host plants such as cucurbits and French beans every 2 to 3 years.
  • To prevent wetting the foliage, avoid overhead irrigation. Also, avoid touching the plants when they are wet.
  • Control all weeds especially the volunteer cucurbits since they can host the anthracnose fungus.
  • Control all weeds, especially wild and volunteer cucurbits
  • Avoid wounding to prevent post-harvest losses since anthracnose can develop and the wounded part of the harvested fruit.

If the disease is controlled, watermelon farming is a disease that can rake you millions of money. The demand for watermelon is yet to be met and hence this is the venture one can consider.

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How to Manage Soil PH in Your Farm

Soil PH

The agriculture sector has a major contribution to the country’s economy. Horticulture, for instance, generates more than $1 billion annually. The demand for food is high not only locally but also internationally. However, food production is determined by the soil health. The primary indicator of soil health is soil pH. The yields from the farm and what you can grow can be predicted by the soil pH. It is therefore important to manage the soil pH for your crop.

Factors Affecting PH

Most crops perform well when the pH levels are neutral, ranging between 6 to 7.5. Low pH can inhibit the nitrogen cycle. Some inherent factors affecting soil pH include soil texture, mineral content, and climate. Minerals in the parent material determine the pH of newly formed soils. When the rainfall amounts are high, the soil pH decreasing as a result of acidification caused by leaching. In dry environments, the soil pH is either alkaline or neutral since weathering and leaching are low. However, soils with high organic matter content have a high buffering capacity and hence more resistant to changes in pH. Mostly, sandy soils contain little organic matter content leading to high rates of infiltration and water percolation and low buffering capacity. This makes them susceptible to acidification.

Nitrogen levels in the soil also affect the soil pH. Some sources of nitrogen such as manure, fertilizers, and legumes either form or contain ammonium. As the ammonium is being converted into nitrates, during the nitrification process, it releases H ions. The nitrate provided or formed combines with basic cations such as potassium, calcium and magnesium leaching the soil. These bases are replaced or removed by the H ions and in the process the soil becomes acidic. The application of sulfur fertilizers increases soil acidity making the pH levels to become lower.

Know Your Levels

Farmers need to know the pH levels of their soils to know which management techniques to employ. Regular soil testing is therefore important to help you know the crops that you can grow. Soil testing also helps you know the best time to apply fertilizers, the quantity to use, and the nutrients required by the soil. To have an accurate soil pH of the farm, multiple soil tests are recommended.

Management Techniques

Different crops thrive well at varying soil pH. For instance, legumes require neutral pH ranging from 6.5 to 7.0. Grains perform well at a pH that is slightly acidic to neutral – 6.0 to 7.0.

Some of the measures that can be applied to raise the soil pH or reduce acidification include:

  • Liming to increase the pH of acidic soils. Lime not only corrects the soil acidity but also provides the soil with important nutrients such as Magnesium and Calcium, and prevents elements like Aluminium and Manganese from harmful to plants.
  • Proper fertilization: fertilizers should be applied as per the plant’s needs. This is because elements such as nitrogen and sulfur can raise soil acidity. Proper irrigation management should be used to minimize the leaching of nitrates.
  • To minimize the acidifying effects of nitrogen fertilizers, farmers should diversify crop rotation.
  • Applying irrigation water and manure and other organic material that have a high content of calcium or magnesium bicarbonates.

Using cover crops, diverse rotation with high-residue crops, and applying solid manure improves soil buffering capacity, increases organic matter content, and minimizes changes in soil pH. Due to the global-positioning, solid infrastructure, and favorable climate, the agriculture industry is growing at a fast rate. However, the farmers will not be able to meet the demand for food if the soil pH is not maintained. Soil testing should be put into emphasis to ensure that food production does not reduce.

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How to Control Tuta Absoluta in Tomatoes

The heavy rains have facilitated an increase in the cost and demand of tomatoes. This is because the rains have damaged the roads and resulted in an increase in the diseases that have affected tomatoes, especially on open field farms. In the process, this has disrupted the supply of tomatoes.
Growing tomatoes can be disastrous if your crops get infested by Tuta absoluta. Over the past few years, a large number of farmers have suffered huge losses after their precious crops were infested and destroyed by the dangerous pest. If effective control measures are not employed early enough, the pest can destroy an entire tomato farm.

Detection

For effective management, proper diagnosis is important. The input dealers, service providers, and farmers need to correctly identify the possible symptoms of Tuta absoluta such as coalesced lesions.

Damage caused

The pest mainly spreads through seedlings, tomato fruits, and containers. Tuta absoluta can also come from production greenhouses or through the soil. It feeds on all parts of the tomato plant such as the stem, leaves, inflorescences, and the fruits. Symptoms of the tomato leaf miners include leaf mines, rolled leaves, lesions, abnormal shape, necrotic areas, and exit holes. If these symptoms are detected, corrective measures should be taken. Leaf mines are found on the upper and lower parts of the leaf lamina. With keep observation, one can see white or cream tunnel marks on the leaves and sometimes green caterpillars inside the tunnel. The caterpillars produce silk-like substance at an advanced stage which partially webs and folds the leaves to protect the developing larva until it matures. At times, the leaves completely die off and the fruits reduce in size and fall off before reaching maturity. When the fruits are damaged, fungal diseases enter resulting in rotting of the tomato fruits before harvesting. The yield of tomatoes can reduce by even more than 60% if the tomato fruits are severely infested by Tuta absoluta.

Control

Controlling Tuta absoluta is a challenging process. This is because it has a short life cycle, a fast reproductive rate, a concealed larvae stage inside the tomato plant parts and nocturnal adults. The life cycle of the tomato leaf miner is completed within 35 days. The effectiveness of chemical control depends on the nature of damage of the pest. Integrated Pest Management should be adopted to ensure that sustainable management measures are employed in the control of Tuta absoluta. Chemical, cultural or biological measures can be employed to control the destructive pest.

Chemical control

Spraying the same product frequently results in pest resistance, therefore, the insecticides should be alternated after two sprays. Regular crop monitoring and scouting help farmers to make the right decision on when to spray and the insecticide to prevent severe infestation of pesticides.  Due to the trans-laminar damage of Tuta absoluta and the fast development of resistance, insecticide use has become challenging. However, the pest can be controlled with insecticides such as Radiant, Tracer, Belt, Tihan, Escort, and Coragen. Farmers should also sterilize the soil before planting to ensure that they kill any eggs present in the soil.

Cultural control

Cultural control involves measures such as plowing, irrigation, and crop rotation with non-solanaceous crops such as capsicum, beans, and maize. Plants such as potato, Pepino, eggplant, tobacco, and nightshade should not be grown on tomato fields since they host the pest. The tomato farms should be kept weed-free since some weeds such as Datura spp. and managu act as alternative hosts of Tuta absoluta. Solarization and elimination of symptomatic leaves can also help in controlling the pest. Infested tomato fruits and debris should not be dumped in markets, collection points, and at farm edges. They should be instead be buried in deep holes.

Biological control

Biologically, Tuta absoluta can be controlled using predatory bug ‘Macrolophus pygnaeus’, Trichogramma spp, and  Entomopathogenic fungi

Sustainability

Integrated pest management measures help in promoting sustainability in tomato farming. The methods employed should enable farmers to produce high-quality tomatoes hence more returns. Extensive application of cultural and biological control has a positive impact on biodiversity and the ecosystem.

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New European Union Regulations on Plant Health

The European Union provides the biggest market for Kenya’s exports. Fruit flies are one of the phytosanitary pests that cause devastating effects on fruits. Previously, mangoes were one of the most exported fruit from Kenya. For a long time, Kenya has been exporting processed and unprocessed mangoes to international markets such as the European Union. However, the exportation of unprocessed mangoes to the European Union has been stopped due to the presence of fruit flies. Fruit infestation by exotic and native pests has facilitated to reduced market access, affecting family incomes and foreign exchange negatively.

(EU) 2016/2019

Phytosanitary rules aim to protect European forestry and agriculture by preventing the entry of non-native pests and diseases. Due to climate change, pests can easily survive in Europe. It was hence important to update the existing rules to curb the increased risks and to put uniform rules across the Member states of the European Union. To prevent the entry of pests into the EU states, a new plant health regulation (EU) 2016/2031 has already come into operation. Those who exporting horticultural products such as fruits and vegetables must take strict measures to comply with the new rules. The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) states that the rules are aimed at simplifying, modernizing, and improving the existing health and safety standards for the agri-food chain. Smarter rules show that efficient pest and disease control measures must be enforced.

Plant health is essential for the protection of the EU’s forests, nature, plant production, and biodiversity. The regulation (EU)2016/2031 emphasizes on effectively mitigating phytosanitary risks. Currently, there are some plants whose phytosanitary risks have to be thoroughly assessed.

The new European Union regulation improves traceability and brings changes in the classification of plant pests

According to the new rules, pests are classified as either priority pests which are harmful pests that rarely occur in the European Union, protected zone quarantine pests which are only seen in certain regions in the EU, and Union quarantine pests which occur in most parts of the EU. There are degrading pests such as proliferation disease that reduce the quantity of the crop and weaken its quality which can cause massive losses. To prevent the entry of pests in the EU, a phytosanitary certificate will be required for fresh plants such as vegetables and fruits.

Phytosanitary certificate

A certificate will be required for all fruits and vegetables except for coconut, banana, dates, and pineapple. High-risk products must be thoroughly inspected by EFSA to determine the conditions in which they must be imported. Phytosanitary certification is also required for cut flowers, seeds, grain products, cut trees and branches, and hop bales.

National Plant Health Act

The new plant health legislation that came into effect on 14th December lays down the provisions for supplementing the plant health regulation. These rules will help in enforcing effective measures to protect the EU’s plants and territories and in the process modernizing the plant health regime. Compared to the current legislation, notable changes are on the import of plants from outside the EU, self monitoring, the use of plant passports, and the classification of plant pests. These changes will have a significant impact on the exporters, farmers and importers.

Proper Care

The high percentage of the quarantined codling moth pest in chili from Kenya has forced the European Union to stop importing it from Kenya. Exporters and farmers have to employ a costly mechanism to control the pest and meet the requirements for the lucrative market. This means that they should create a pest-free zone or export dry chili. Since a thorough assessment is done on all products, the presence of pests, especially the regulated ones will make the EU authorities to apply serious consequences to the exporters.

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Delaying bolting in herbs and vegetables

It is quite disappointing when you plant vegetables or herbs and they become seedy after a couple of weeks. Instead of the plants utilizing the available energy to form bulbs or leafy green bits that you want to harvest, it instead forms flowers and seeds. Naturally, most plants reproduce through the production of seeds.

Bolting is the formation of a flowering stem on horticultural crops before they are harvested. The production of seeds shows that the growing season of the crop is coming to an end. Once bolting happens, the plants no longer grow and they either go dormant or die. Since all the energy is focused on the production of seeds, the crops become woody, tough and tasteless. The plant withdraws water and sugar from the bulbs and leaves and uses it to feed the flowers. Some plants such as lettuce produce bitter compounds to put off foraging predators.

Causes of Bolting to Seed, and How to Prevent It

Stress: when they are exposed to stress, plants mostly flower. Environmental factors such as temperature, weather, pests, and diseases stress the plant. For instance, cold weather makes the plants to become dormant. Lack of warmth alters the growth cycle and in the process the plant bolts. Fluctuations in temperature also result in bolting. Low temperatures cause the plants to become dormant while warm temperatures promote plant growth. When these temperatures fluctuate, the plants end up forming flowers.

Over-fertilization: Application of large amounts of fertilizers causes vigorous and uneven growth of crops in their early development and in the process of forming flowers.

Loose soil: For instance, in onions, loose soil makes the onion roots to be easily disturbed. This causes stress on the onion plant and it responds bolting.

Bolting in Onions

How to Delay Bolting

Although bolting cannot be prevented, it can at least be slowed. Various ways that can be taken into consideration to slow the process include:

Planting bolt-resistant varieties. Some varieties are resistant to bolting. In Kenya, for instance, onions are exposed to high temperatures which can easily initiate flower bud formation. For biennials such as carrots and onions, resistant varieties are hence a good option.

Sowing time: Some biennial vegetables are sensitive to cold snaps and hence the sowing time can be delayed up to when the temperatures are stable.

Mulch heat-sensitive vegetables and herbs. Mulching will offer a controlled environment, providing the desired temperature for forming heads in plants such as broccoli and coriander. If the roots get hot, the plants will form flower buds.

Harvest the crops early when the temperatures are cool.ince you keep cutting off growth from plants such as spinach, kales, lettuce and broccoli, the plant is stimulated to replace the cut part.

Use the right fertilizer. Different fertilizers offer different nutrients to the plants. When applying fertilizers in vegetables and herbs, you should be careful. Some fertilizers are meant for leaves while others are specifically for flower and fruit formation. For instance, if you apply fertilizers meant for fruiting plants on leafy vegetables, the nutrients will encourage the plant to form flowers. Leafy vegetables and herbs require fertilizers with high nitrogen (N).

Some of the crops which tend to bolt include cabbage, lettuce, brassicas, spinach, beetroot, onions, carrots, turnip, arugula. Farmers need to seek agronomical support to understand important growth patterns to get maximum yields from their crops. With support, farmers can get adequate information on problems that their plants are exposed to and how to prevent them.

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Earn Extra Income With the Modern Langstroth Bee Hive

Langsroth Bee Hive

Langstroth beehive is the basic beekeeping equipment. Usually it has two layers, brood box is used for bee living and raise their young, and honey super box is used for harvest honey.

Langstroth hive is a vertically modular beehive that has the key features of vertically hung frames, a bottom board with entrance for the bees, boxes containing frames for brood and honey (the lowest box for the queen to lay eggs, and boxes above where honey may be stored) and top cap to provide weather protection. In a Langstroth hive, the bees build honeycomb into frames, which can be moved with ease. The frames are designed to prevent bees from attaching honey combs where they would either connect adjacent frames, or connect frames to the walls of the hive. The movable frames allow the beekeeper to manage the bees in a way which was formerly impossible.

How to make Langstroth Bee hive

Our Langstroth beehives are wholly Kenyan made using local material and are all fitted with 100% bees wax comb starters, comb strips that are also locally produced from bees wax coming from our local bees thus assuring quick colonization

The Langstroth hive is easier to move during migration and easier to capture a swarm of bees with. Better quality honey is obtained because less smoke is used. However they are more costly and require a good knowledge of the cycles and bee ecology. The wood must be well seasoned.

The queen excluder is a mesh grid, usually made of wire or plastic, sized such that worker bees can pass through, but queens (generally) cannot. When used, it is generally placed between the hive body and the honey supers. The purpose of the queen excluder is to keep the queen from laying eggs in the honey supers, which can lead to darker honey and can also complicate extraction.

When harvesting it, protective gear should be worn.  The process should be done in the morning or late in the evening when bees are less active. A bucket or pail can be used to collect the honey comb with the aid of a bee brush to brush off bees back into the hive.

The annual production of langstroth bee hive is 40 kg whereas the Kenya top bar bee hive is 30kg and the traditional bee hive with 20kg.

In addition to getting revenues from honey, bees play an important role in pollinating fruits in your orchard. OxfarmAg Ltd has made it easy for the farmers who want to invest in the Fruit Farming and HONEY PRODUCTION.

Through our research, we have realized that most farmers do not have the knowledge and required experience to successfully farm hass avocado up to maturity and profit from them.

This has caused many farmers huge losses, and we are here to offer stairs and a good start in hass avocado orchard establishment.

A kilo of honey in Kenya fetches around 800ksh to 1000ksh. A farmer with approximately ten beehives can earn a comfortable 320,000ksh per year. 10 beehives times an annual production of 40kg of honey per beehive.

Honey Combs used in Modern Langstroth Bee hive

ADVANTAGES OF THE LANGSTROTH HIVE

  1. It produces the highest amount of honey
  1. There is no bee killing during harvesting
  2. It is environment friendly
  3. It does not allow intrusion of hive by bees enemies such as mice and spiders
  4. It works well with trap boxes
  5. Makes it easy for bees to fan and clean the hive.
  6. Fitted with wax foundations that reduce work for the bees in making combs
  7. Promotes cleanliness during harvesting
  8. Brood and honey are never mixed as in log hives
  9. All members of the family can work with hives
  10. The shadow frames can be easily tied up three or more stories high
  11. The beekeeper can add supers at the rate at which they are required by the bees
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Two Major structures used in Grafting Fruit Trees

Grafting is a technique that is used to combine two plants to produce the desired rootstock, providing trees with the desired fruit characteristics. Grafted plants develop resistance to soil-borne diseases such as bacterial wilt, southern blight, fusarium wilt, root-knot nematodes, and verticillium wilt. It also enables the plants to withstand harsh climatic conditions and to overcome salinity issues. The grafted part is composed of the scion (the top of the grafted plant) and the rootstock (the bottom part). Grafting success is facilitated by the propagation environment, grafting methods and grafting seasons. Greenhouses and shade net houses are common structures in grafting nurseries.

The power of technology: 4 major advancements in the agricultural sector

Greenhouses

They are categorized into two; high cost and low-cost greenhouses. The high-cost greenhouse comprises of a polythene sheet set on metallic ashes. This type is easy to build and it can withstand strong winds without getting damaged. Greenhouses offer an ideal environment for grafted plants. Temperatures inside the greenhouse are higher than in the outside environment although they can be maintained at the desired level. The humidity in the greenhouses can be raised by sprinkling water even during the cold season. Since they offer a propagated environment, the success rate of the plants is high. The investment capacity determines the type of greenhouses and shade net houses required. It is effective for both small scale and large scale graft plants’ nurseries.

Integrating liquid fertlizers through Fertigation into irrigation systems

Shade net houses

A systematic shade house is required for both small and large scale multiplication of graft plants. Mostly, young graft plants need a regulated environment in partial shade. Shade net houses can be easily built since only wooden poles are used to support the shade net. They allow the circulation of air and are not affected by wind. They offer a controlled environment required for the proper growth of the graft plants.

In a controlled environment, the graft plants take fewer days to sprout. These plants have a high number of leaves and grow at a faster rate. In Greenhouses and shade net houses, the grafts seem to heal quickly. The graft exposure to optimum temperature and humidity results in variations in the number of leaves of the graft plants. High humidity helps in the formation of the callus between the scion and stock and also prevents the scion from drying. Compatibility between the scion and the stock promotes cambium formation and easy union formation.

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Best Irrigation Methods in Different Soils

Types of soils and the best irrigation methods

Irrigation systems such as flood irrigation apply water at a faster rate in different soils which results in wastage of water through run-off and evaporation. The plants cannot fully utilize all the water since it saturates into the soil quickly. The application of large amounts of water can also result in leaching and water-logging. The rate at which water soaks into the soil depends is determined by the type of the soil. It is therefore important to identify the soil type and how it reacts with water before setting up a drip irrigation system. Since water is a scarce but valuable resource, it should be preserved. Water should be applied at different rates depending on the soil type.

In sandy soils, water moves quickly and goes deep into the soil. The wetting pattern is mainly vertical than horizontal in this soil type. When doing irrigation on sandy soils, higher flow drippers which are spaced closely should be used to ensure that plants receive sufficient water.

The greatest challenge facing avocado farming

Since the soil is dense, the rate of water absorption in clay soil is quite slow. To prevent water from pooling on the surface, drippers should be set to apply water at a slow rate. This ensures that water gets to the roots and minimizes water loss. Water should be applied for longer periods to ensure that the plants receive enough water.

In loamy soils, water gets infiltrated into the soil at a slower rate compared to sandy soils but it gets evenly distributed, horizontally and vertically. Mid-ranger drippers and sprinklers can be a good choice for this type of soil.

Why Soil Testing is Important

Soil testing is important when determining the soil type. Regardless of whether you want to irrigate your nurseries, garden, orchard or your lawn, professional soil testing services will be essential to help you know the rate of irrigation and the drip irrigation kit to use.

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The power of technology: 4 major advancements in the agricultural sector

With the latest gadgets and innovations, technology has transformed today’s agriculture. The number of entrepreneurs and investors who are investing their money in agriculture has been rising rapidly. In the future, agriculture will look completely different from what it is today. There have been major advancements in telecommunication, engineering of farm machinery and equipment, and computer software. In Kenya, mobile technology has been used extensively to improve small and large scale farming. It helps in reducing post-harvest and weather-related losses, improving farm operations, comparing different market rates, controlling farm machinery and equipment, monitoring the supplies and in the process making farming more efficient. Some of the major technologies that will take agriculture to another level are sensors, automation and mechanical engineering, and mobile devices.

Mobile devices

Since most farm equipment can be connected to mobile devices most farmers are incorporating mobile devices in their farm operations. There are many apps that perform a wide range of functions such as controlling water meters, checking the weather, collecting field-level information and selling farm products.

The greatest challenge facing avocado farming

Smart farming

Combining different technologies, farmers can be able to create smart farming systems. Smart farming utilizes internet-connected tools to leverage and capture data required for decision making.

Sensors

Sensors play an important role in farming such as traceability, helping farmers to get real-time information and data regarding their equipment, livestock, and crops. Furthermore, they promote accuracy since the data undergoes complex diagnosis and analysis before a report is given. Today, sensors are connecting to sophisticated systems that analyze the collected data automatically. To grow high-performance crops, farmers are employing high tech systems. Sensors are also used for comparing weather conditions and testing the soil. Some of the sensors used in agriculture include:

Livestock biometrics: Collars with GPS and biometrics can be used to collect and relay real-time information about the livestock automatically.

Soil and Air sensors: These are sensors that can help farmers to understand water, soil and air conditions of their farms.

Crop sensors: These sensors are used to collect information related to the crops. They can help farmers understand the field conditions before fertilizer application and the amount of fertilizer required in the field. Drones can be utilized to monitor the crops’ health and know the correct remedy to prescribe in case the crops are not healthy. For instance, they can identify if the crops have been infested by pests or powdery mildew and relay the information to the farmers for analysis. During irrigation, sensors can be mounted on the irrigation systems to measure the amount of moisture in the soil which can help the farmer to know when there is enough moisture in the soil. Since the rate of irrigation is different in different crops, the information relayed by these sensors can vary. To assess the performance of the crops, drones can be fitted with sensors and GPS technology.

Equipment telematics: This technology is used for communication or from far. For instance, tractors can be started and given a few minutes to warm up before they start working.

What Are The Benefits of Organic Fruit Farming

Automation & Mechanical Engineering

In the next few years, farm equipment and machinery will be automated. Automation incorporates the use of robotics, micro-robots, computer applications and systems to monitor and maintain the crops. Some of the recent advancements include:

Variable-rate swath control: This is an advancement of geo-location technologies that help farmers to save on fertilizers, seeds, and herbicides by pre-computing the field size, overlapping inputs and automating tasks such as fertilizer application.

Agricultural robots: These days, tractors can be used to apply to be installed with devices that can be used to apply pesticides and liquid fertilizers to crops in the field. Agricultural robots can be programmed to perform tasks such as seeding and harvesting automatically.