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.

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.

Sustainable Agriculture Through Innovation

What Is Innovation?

Innovation is an important factor when it comes to sustainability in agriculture. Responding to climate change, sustainability should be ensured to preserve water, land and biodiversity resources. To respond to opportunities and meet these challenges, it will be important to embrace innovative approaches to boost productivity. An agroecosystem needs production systems that can withstand natural stressors such as pests, diseases, and harsh climatic conditions, trade barriers, and economic cycles to be sustainable. The market for staple crops in various parts of the world is increasing rapidly which means that various ways have to be enforced to meet the rising demand and at the same time not replenishing the available resources. Innovation is hence required to enhance productivity growth and at the same time improving sustainability. To achieve sustainable use of resources, it is important to transform the existing patterns of production and consumption. Sustainable agriculture aims to meet the current food demand without replenishing the available resources.

Benefits of Innovation

Innovation starts with improving seeds and irrigation systems. Industries need to innovate new and better products both in the food sector and the chemical industry. Innovation has many benefits in the agriculture sector. For instance,

  1. It helps in solving problems and increasing the market share in the export market.
  2. It reduces farming costs and wastage of resources, leaving farmers in a better position to focus on their long-term goals. 
  3. Innovation leads to increased turnover and improved profitability.
  4. It also boosts the market position of Kenyan products.
  5. Innovation in farming results in higher crop yields. Innovation facilitates the development of better crops that can thrive in harsh conditions, resistant to most pests and diseases and at the same time producing high-quality yields.

Innovations That promote sustainable agriculture

Technology: Artificial Intelligence and Io T

Precision agriculture is already gaining popularity and its widely used in various parts of the world to improve productivity. This ranges from big data to the use of drones, robots and the application of herbicides and fertilizers using aerial vehicles. These innovations can be used to automate farming practices, monitor crops and to optimize planting schedules. Since technology assists in conservation efforts, many countries are concentrating on agritech. Lately, there have been concerns arising over agricultural sustainability such as predicting water shortages soon. This means that farmers have to employ smart farming to ensure efficient water use. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) can be used to collect and analyze data from their farms and the surrounding environment to help farmers to implement appropriate farming practices. This can enable farming even in areas with limited water access and enhance sustainable agriculture.  Based on information technology, an integrated farm management solution can be an effective way of modernizing the management of natural resources. Technological innovation in agriculture extends the farmer’s capacity by automating most tasks, enhancing farm management, agronomy, and crop management. For instance, the various software design enables farmers to apply precise fertilization strategies based on the crop conditions which helps farmers to boost yields and also reduce reliance on fertilizers.

Agroecology

Agroecology incorporates the farmer’s knowledge and experience with scientific insight and modern ecology. Based on the agroecological approach, everything produced on the farm is beneficial. For instance, debris and animal droppings can be used to make manure that improves soil quality. In return, the yields and nutritional values of the crops increases. Agricultural waste can also be used to feed animals.

BIO-FERTILISERS

The extensive use of chemicals and fertilizers has made the management of pests and diseases more complicated. Constant use of chemicals has resulted in the evolution of resistant breeds of pests. Chemicals and fertilizers have also resulted in water pollution, destroying the soil and the ecosystem. The European Union and China provide the largest market for Kenyan products. However, they have enforced strict measures to minimize the entry of pests into their territories. Recently, the new EU Plant Health Regulation (2016/2031) was enforced which illustrates that plants getting into the European Union should be pest-free. Previously, the EU had stopped importing Kenyan chili due to the presence of the Codling moth on chili. Although Kenya and Uganda have opted to sell chili in the middle-east where the demand is high, the prices are relatively low compared to Europe. The shift in markets has been facilitated by EU’s trade restrictions based on the presence of pests especially quarantine pests.

The phytosanitary requirements imposed by the international market poses challenges in the agriculture sector. For instance, the set MRL means that farmers have to apply pesticides at a controlled rate hence not fully eliminating the targeted pest or disease. Integrated Pest Management can be a good solution to these challenges. Bio-solutions and bio-fertilizers help in suppressing harmful pests while still improving the soil system.

The demand for food is constantly rising as the global population increases. The increased urbanization also facilitates the high demand and therefore smart techniques need to be employed to meet this demand. Since the demand for food is putting pressure on the environment, there is a need for sustainable farming to ensure that agriculture does not contribute to climate change. The European Union and China are emphasizing on sustainability in agriculture and its high time that farmers start employing smart farming techniques.

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.

Langsroth Bee Hive

Earn Extra Income With the Modern Langstroth 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

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.

Types of soils and the best irrigation methods

Best Irrigation Methods in Different Soils

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.

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.

 

What Are The Benefits of Organic Fruit Farming

Today, organic foods are appealing to consumers since they are an ethical choice and healthy. Therefore, organic farming can be a profitable sphere to venture in. Apart from ethics and money. Organic farming practices are friendly to the environment. Organic farming can be considered as a farming method that avoids the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, additives, growth regulators and growth hormones. They rely on animal manures, bio-fertilizers, crop residues, crop rotation, organic wastes, and mechanical cultivation. Biological methods are used for pest and weeds control while still maintaining soil productivity.  Organic farming helps in enhancing biological diversity, soil fertility and this way resulting in sustainability in agriculture.

To maintain soil fertility, crops should be supplied with nutrients using insoluble nutrients like the action of micro-organisms. Legumes can be grown to ensure nitrogen soil self-sufficiency since they facilitate to nitrogen fixation.

Pros of Organic Farming

In fruit farming, organic farming has many benefits such as reducing chemical residual levels and minimizing soil erosion. China giving a nod to Kenyan avocados, that was a big opportunity for Kenyan farmers. However, the export license can end up being canceled if high pesticide levels and the use of unregistered pesticides are detected. Apart from discouraging smart farming practices like crop rotation and growing cover crops, pesticides and synthetic chemicals result in soil, air and water contamination. Continuous use of pesticides allows disease resistance to develop in weeds, plants, bacteria, fungi, and plant-eating-insects.

Soil erosion is a serious issue that should be combated since it affects the land, humans and can greatly cut the fruit supply, especially when the trees are destroyed.

When you treat the soil with harmful pesticides, you destroy it to the point that the soil can no longer thrive on its own. Growing healthy fruits starts with healthy soil. Organic farming means that you will produce healthy fruits.

Organic farming facilitates water conservation and preservation. Some fruit trees such as peaches, pears cannot tolerate drought and hence require a lot of irrigation. Apples require a lot of water during vegetative growth and fruit formation. Most fruits are resistant to rotting hence they can withstand wet soils. Most mature fruits are composed of approximately 70% water. This means that plants require a lot of water during fruit formation. On most occasions, 1% of the water that the trees use is retained in the fruits. Continuous use of fertilizers reduces water retention capability results in poor drainage of the soil. This leads to a lot of irrigation, affected water conservation negatively. When farmers employ organic practices such as mulching, they manage to minimize irrigation and hence conserve water.

Consumers prefer organically grown fruits not only in Kenya but also in other countries since they are tastier. The quality of the fruits is also different. Organically grown fruits are free from preservatives, harmful chemicals, and artificial flavors. Furthermore, the cost of organic fruit farming is relatively lower compared to non-organically grown ones.

Integrating liquid fertlizers through Fertigation into irrigation systems

Challenges facing Organic Farming

The organic farming industry faces several challenges. For instance, farmers are not aware of the high demand for organic fruits and their market. Also, there is a lack of enforcement o organic farming, lack of certification by agricultural bodies and lack of proper inspection of fruit quality. The inappropriate use of chemical and high maximum residual levels (MRLs)  in the horticultural sector, for example, resulted in the European Union rejecting Kenya’s horticulture produce. This shows the importance of setting standards and certification of organic farming.

The demand for organically produced fruits has been rising not only locally but also in the export market. Some farmers are already amassing high incomes from organic fruits. Unfortunately, the number of organic farmers is still low and hence the demand is yet to be met. In Kenya, there are some supermarkets in Nairobi and other parts of the country which are stocking their shelves with organic foods. Apart from low chemical levels, organic fruits have health benefits to those suffering from serious diseases such as high blood pressure, cancer, and diabetes.

If other farmers are amassing wealth from organic farming, why not you? For more information, you can consult Oxfarm.co.ke to get into the organic farming.

Integrating liquid fertlizers through Fertigation into irrigation systems

Most areas in Kenya do not receive adequate rainfall for growing crops, hence farmers need to get creative. Water is a scarce resource that needs to be preserved. In the process of getting water to the crops, farmers are affected by winds and evapotranspiration. This results in wastage of water, especially in areas where farmers rely on man-made sources or seasonal rivers.  Irrigation systems play a vital role in commercial farming, especially in areas where farmers rely on irrigation to grow their crops and plants. The agricultural sector keeps advancing, coming up with sophisticated irrigation technology that promote agriculture even in dry seasons. Drip irrigation systems have resulted to an increase in the production of fruits and vegetables as more farmers try to tap the high demand in the local and international markets. Apart from irrigation, drip irrigation systems can also be used for fertigation. However, one should be careful when designing an integrated irrigation and fertigation systems.

How to succeed in Drip Irrigation system

Fertigation
Drip Emitters

The success of the system depends on the quality of the equipment. Irrigation systems should be installed in a professional way to minimize malfunctioning in certain parts. Drip irrigation systems help in delivering more water to the plants in a controlled manner, minimizing wastage and saving up to 60% of water consumption compared to sprinkler and flood irrigation systems. Some drip irrigation systems can be automated which can save you manual labor and time. When integrating drip irrigation and fertigation systems, one requires system pumps to control the flow of water and liquid fertilizers, drip tubing for pressurized distributing of water and fertilizers, emitters for distributing water to the farm, fittings, and emission devices. Emission devices are based on the crops grown and the type of soil on your farm. Filters are required to separate solid particles such as sand from the water before delivering it to the farm.

Fertilizers are added to the soil to supplement supply a certain number of nutrients to the crops.  For instance, plants need nutrients such as potassium, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, sulfur, and magnesium. If these nutrients are not present in the soil, the plants would be forced to only survive on carbon dioxide in the air and hydrogen, oxygen and carbon from the water. Using fertilizers, farmers can boost the health of the plants and in the process increase the overall yield by 30-50%.

Fertigation

Fertigation is the application of irrigation water together with fertilizers. Once they are prepared in stock tanks, the concentrated fertilizer solutions are then injected into the irrigation systems using fertilizer injectors. In Kenya, this is done through drip irrigation systems. With fertilizer injectors, drip irrigation users have an advantage for they can easily apply to their crops. The irrigation system is composed of emitters and tubings which supply water to the plants. Using the same delivery system, fertilizers can be injected and applied to the plants’ root zone where they are needed. When coming up with an integrated irrigation system, farmers should first know the size of the area to be irrigated, the quantity and quality of the available water, the crop water requirements, and the soil type. This will help the farmers to know how to disinfect, filtrate and oxidate the water, and what nutrients should be added for better crop growth. The efficiency of the fertigation program depends on the water management techniques implemented. The crop’s water requirement is based on the type of crop, climatic conditions such as wind, humidity, and temperature, and stage of the crop. To maximize the crop’s health, growth and yields, farmers should take close care to the concentration of liquid fertilizers and the timing of the system. In some units, especially the smaller ones, the injection rate of the fertilizer is proportional to the water discharge rate. Once the system has been run, it cannot be adjusted hence farmers should look keenly at the feed ratio.

To prevent the fertilizing agents from getting back to the water supply, the drip irrigation systems should be fitted with a backflow preventer. Filling a fertilizer injector is done by unscrewing a fill cap, emptying the water in the unit and filling it with the undiluted fertilizer before it is injected into the irrigation water. To prevent clogging in the drip emitters, only water-soluble fertilizers should be used.

Save Every Drop Through Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation impacts the environment positively since it helps in improving crop production, water use efficiency and reduces CO2 emissions brought about by water pumps and reduces soil erosion, which is common in flood irrigation.  Integrating irrigation and fertigation is an important advancement that can benefit both small scale and large scale farmers.  Whether you are growing fruits, horticultural crops, you need a drip irrigation system integrated with a fertigation system to help you. There are many suppliers of these systems and it would be disappointing to buy something that doesn’t work for you. For Irrigation kits and installation contact us.