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Advantages and disadvantages of Mixed farming in Kenya

Mixed farming is when a farmer decides to combine two or more agricultural activities on the same farm. A typical case of mixed farming is the combination of crop cultivation with dairy farming or in more general terms, crop cultivation with livestock farming. Mixed farming may be treated as a special case of diversified farming. This particular combination of enterprises, support each other and add to the farmer’s profitability.

Read: As A Farmer You Can Control Pests Through Shade Nets

Advantages of Mixed farming:

  • It enhances the productivity of the farm land
  • It increases the per capita profitability
  • Both farmings compliment each other.
  • Farmers can keep their fields under continuous production.
  • It enhances the productivity of the farmer also.
  • Reduce dependency on external inputs and costs. In the example of mixed cropping of animal husbandry and crop farming the crops and animals components can complement and support each other. For example, the crop farming gives feed to the animals, and in turn, the animals can supply fertilizers to the crop. So this reduces the need and cost of fertilization and animal feed. The animals (such as cattle and sheep) can also perform weeding which reduces the need for herbicides. CIPAV system from Columbia, for example, incorporates fuel generation where crop wastes are fed into a biodigester which then generates fuel for use in the farm (for running farm machinery and equipment). This reduces external fuel dependency.
  • A simpler mixed farming system is aquaponics where the fish wastes are useful as fertilizers for the vegetables (like lettuce) and the lettuce, in turn, clean the water for the fish. Another similar setup and benefit is rice-fish farming in northeast Thailand and China where fish (like tilapia and carp) are bred in the rice field waters.
  • Because the mixed farming system recycles much of its wastes, this reduce external inputs (like fertilizers and pesticides). This in turn reduce greenhouse gases emissions, whether directly or indirectly because less fossil fuels are required in the production and distribution of fertilizers and pesticides due to lower demand.
  • It stabilizes the income of the farmer because the farmer is not depending solely on one activity. Should one activity fail (due to low price or pests or diseases), the farmer can still get income from the other activities.
  • Increased biodiversity means less risks of pests and diseases outbreak in the farm. Outbreak usually occurs in monoculture where there is uniformity of species especially over a large area.

Read: The Most Cost-Effective Greenhouse Which Every Farmer Can Construct

Disadvantages of mixed farming:

  • Because a mixed farming system consists of multiple activities running simultaneously, this makes the control, monitoring, and maintenance of the farm more difficult than a monoculture where only a single activity is run.
  • Some times one activity may hinder the other activity.
  • For the same reason above, the farmer needs to be knowledgeable (or an expert) in more than one area as compared to a monoculture farmer. A mixed farming farmer is running several activities at once, there may be management problem.

Read: Pest and diseases affecting tomato farming and their control

Be the best in what you want to be in farming. Always subscribe to our channels and we will educate you on matters of farming.

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Soil Testing: How To Interpret And Its Importance

Interpretation of soil test reports requires specialized knowledge of local conditions and crops.

How to interpret your soil test

If you use your soil to earn your living, soil tests should be a routine part of your management. A soil test gives you a snapshot of some of the nutrients in your soil and helps you decide which ones to add to make your soil more productive. However, it is not a magic formula, and test results need to be considered together with plant tissue tests, and your farm’s cropping, pasture and fertiliser history.

If you sell produce off the farm (including milk), you need to test soil annually because crop removal rapidly depletes the soil of nutrients. If you graze animals you need to test every 2–3 years to ensure nutrients are in balance.

Test results

This publication contains information to help you understand the most significant results, but it is important that you back up this broad interpretation with advice from your horticulturist or agronomist.

pH

Preferred level pH (CaCl2):

Soil acidity is measured on a pH scale from 0 (most acid) to 14 (most alkaline), with 7 as neutral, that is, neither acid nor alkaline. The scale is logarithmic, that is, going down the scale from pH 7 (neutral), each number is 10 times more acid than the one before it. For example:

  • soil with a pH of 6 is ten times more acid than soil with a pH of 7 (neutral);
  • soil with a pH of 5 is one hundred times more acid than soil with a pH of  7.

The term CaCl2 after the pH figure signifies that the pH was measured in a solution of calcium chloride, a test preferred by most soil scientists. When soil pH is measured in a solution of CaCl2, the pH is 0.5–0.8 lower than if measured in water.

Read: Don’t Just Add Fertilizer Know Its Components

Cation exchange capacity (CEC)

Preferred level: above 10

This is a measure of the ability of the soil to hold the nutrients calcium, magnesium and potassium. Good fertile soils with high clay content and moderate to high organic matter levels usually have a cation exchange capacity of 10 or higher. (Note: a ‘cation’ is a positively charged ion.)

Exchangeable cations

The major cations are calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium and aluminium. These are held in the soil by organic matter and clay. The preferred percentages and the suggested quantities of exchangeable cations in the soil are given in Table 1.

Table 1. Preferred percentages of exchangeable cations as a proportion of CEC, and suggested quantity values
Cation Preferred percentage (%) Suggested quantity (meq/100 g)
Calcium >5
Magnesium >1.6
Potassium 2–6 >0.5
Sodium 0–1 <1.0
Aluminium 0 0

Note: meq/100 g or meq% is the same as cmol/kg.

If your soil test report does not provide percentages, you can calculate them yourself by dividing the quantity of each cation (the meq figure) by the CEC figure, and multiplying the result by 100.

  • Sometimes the level of hydrogen cations is reported, but this should not be added to your total CEC.
  • If any other cations are reported, such as manganese, this may indicate a toxicity problem.
  • High levels of aluminium are toxic to some plants, and this situation is usually associated with more acidic soils.
  • High sodium levels can indicate sodicity problems (i.e. soil structure problems), or salinity problems.

When your soil test report gives quantities in parts per million (ppm), you can use the following conversions to obtain meq figures:

Cation Number to divide by
Calcium Divide by 200
Magnesium Divide by 120
Potassium Divide by 390
Sodium Divide by 230
Aluminium Divide by 90

Calcium/magnesium ratio

Preferred level: above 3

The calcium/magnesium ratio is found by dividing the quantity of calcium (meq/100 g) by the quantity of magnesium (meq/100 g). If the figure is below 2, it is more difficult for plants to take up potassium, and there can be problems with soil structure breaking down due to dispersion.

If you use dolomite (2 parts calcium to 1 part magnesium) regularly, your soil’s calcium:magnesium ratio will fall because too much magnesium is applied compared with calcium. Calcium can be added in the form of gypsum or lime. High calcium:magnesium ratios up to 20:1 have not been shown to adversely affect plant yields.

Phosphorus

There are two different tests for phosphorus in NSW: Bray and Colwell. Since they give very different results, it is important to know which one is used in your report.

Bray phosphorus levels vary with land use:

  • 15–20 mg/kg for dryland pastures
  • 25–30 mg/kg for irrigated and improved pastures
  • 30–50 mg/kg for tree crops
  • 50+ mg/kg for vegetables.

Note: ‘mg/kg’ is the same as ‘parts per million (ppm)’.

Colwell levels vary from 20 to 100 mg/kg depending on soil texture.

The Bray test tends to be more suitable for the North Coast’s acid soils. Because phosphorus tends to tie up with aluminium and iron and become unavailable to plants in acid soils, it is important to keep your pH at around 5 if your soil is to benefit from phosphorus.

Nitrate nitrogen

Preferred level: none calibrated

Nitrate levels fluctuate widely, depending on the season or rainfall. No levels have been calibrated for the North Coast, but agronomists generally like to see a level of 10 mg/kg or more in pasture soils, and a level greater than 20 mg/kg in horticultural crops.

Conductivity (salt)

Preferred level: below 0.15 dS/m (EC1:5)

Electrical conductivity is a measure of salts in the soil. A productive soil’s conductivity should be below 0.15 dS/m (decisiemens per metre).

Plants vary in their reaction to salt stress, from ‘sensitive’ to ‘tolerant’, and the degree of reaction is less in clay soils than in sandy soils. For this reason, soils affected by salt should also have a saturation conductivity test (ECse). However, these results should not be compared with EC1:5 figures.

Salinity problems can be caused by too much fertiliser, salty irrigation water or saline ground water. Salts can be leached out with rainfall or low salinity irrigation water without affecting soil pH. Because of its high rainfall, the North Coast generally does not have a great problem with soil salinity except in some low, poorly draining soils close to tidal rivers.

Trace elements

Preferred level: varies according to crop

The extraction procedures for trace elements can vary between laboratories, resulting in different figures. A general guideline for the preferred level of trace elements in the soil is given in Table 2:

Table 2. Preferred level of trace elements in soil
Trace element Preferred level in soil (mg/kg)
Arsenic <20
Boron 0.5–4
Cadmium <1
Copper 2–50
Lead <35
Molybdenum 2
Mercury <1
Nickel 1–20
Silicon >10
Sulfur 10–20
Zinc 1–200

Soil test results that fall outside these ranges deserve a closer look.Iron, manganese and zinc are all readily available in the North Coast’s acid soils. Zinc is fixed by iron on red basaltic soils, and since boron leaches easily, deficiencies are quite common on the North Coast, particularly in horticultural crops.

Molybdenum is less available in acid soils on the North Coast, so it needs to be added to the soil, particularly for pastures and vegetable crops.

If you suspect your soil has a trace element deficiency, have a plant tissue test done.

Organic carbon

Preferred level: above 2%

Organic carbon is a measure of the organic matter in the soil. It includes undecomposed plant litter, soil organisms and humus. Soil organic carbon stores important nutrients, stabilises soil structure and feeds soil microbes. If soil organic carbon is declining over time, then consider practices such as green manure crops, minimum tillage, mulching or strategic grazing.

Read: You Want To Start An Agricultural Export Business? This Is What You Should Know!

Other soil properties

Laboratory tests are important but they will not alert you to soil compaction, structure decline, erosion or subsoil problems. These types of degradation are much harder to fix than a nutrient deficiency, and recognising the problem early can make a big difference. When collecting your soil samples, note the following:

  • condition of the soil surface;
  • depth of the topsoil;
  • structure of the soil;
  • penetration of plant roots.

A soil health card is a simple guide to this type of soil examination.

Read: A starter guide on having a successful small poultry production unit

 

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You Want To Start An Agricultural Export Business? This Is What You Should Know!

The export business of Agricultural produce is gaining popularity in Kenya. European market is the biggest consumer of Kenyan fresh products. Over the years, the export business has been largely dominated by large-scale commercial growers. However, just about anybody can tap into that huge international market as long as they understand the ins and outs of the trade.

If you have the will of becoming an exporter, then this article is for you. There are several basic requirements that you ought to meet for you to become one of them.

Read: Don’t Just Add Fertilizer Know Its Components

  1. Requirements for exporting fresh cut flowers

Fresh cut flowers have always been in great demand in most European countries especially during special occasions such as the Valentine’s Day, Mothers’ Day, and Easter Holidays. The demand for flowers by florist in the UK is enormous Instead of selling your flowers locally to agents or middlemen, why not export them to get maximum returns possible. Among the most important requirements, the following are must haves.

  • Apply for Export license from Horticultural Crops Directorate (AFFA-HCD)

To be approved for the issuance of an export license, you must undergo a vetting process to demonstrate that;

-You are practicing Good Agricultural Practices (GAP certification).

-You’ve put in place environmental conservation measures.

-You have a traceability system in place.

-You and/or your staff have attended annual training on the safe and effective use of chemicals.

-You have a clear pest control protocol.

The export license is renewed annually.

  • Conformity and Phytosanitary certificate from KEPHIS

Phytosanitary and conformity certificates are applied online prior to approval by Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS). The physical inspection is done at the airport to ascertain that your flowers are free from any harmful pests.

  1. Requirements for exporting fruits and vegetables

As opposed to fresh cut flowers, more emphasis is placed on the growing and exporting of fruits and vegetables to enhance food safety. There are more stringent measures on fruits and vegetables and times this discourages many exporters would be.

Export of fresh fruits and vegetables needs high degree of quality standards. However, in our experience, compliance to the standards has always proved to be cheaper and cost-efficient as opposed to non-compliance. Therefore, if you want to succeed with your export business, always do the right thing no matter how bureaucratic things might get sometimes. To start us off, you’ll need

  • An Export license from Horticultural Crops Directorate under Agricultural Fisheries and Food Authority (AFFA-HCD). – The process of acquiring the license is more or less as I have described above.
  • Conformity and Phytosanitary certificates from KEPHIS
  • Global GAP Certification. There are accredited bodies such as AfriCert, EnCert, and Bureau Veritas Kenya, that conducts farm audits to verify whether you meet the Global GAP standards or otherwise.
  • Euro 1 Certificate in the event that you’re targeting any market in the European Union.
  • BRC Certification for UK supermarkets.
  • Maximum Residue Levels limit, commonly known as ‘MRL limit compliance’ which is required for EU market.

Read: What you require while establishing successful pig farming

NB: It’s important to check the requirements for each certification and work on it beforehand. You can also employ the services of a consultant to help out with the technicalities involved in the process.

Common fruits and vegetables with a huge international export market

If you want to diversify your enterprises, the following are some of the fresh produces that are in high demand in Europe.

They are; French beans (extra fine, fine, and bobby), Snow peas, Mango, Avocado, Passion fruits, Red onions, Sweetcorn, Red cabbage, Coriander, Sugar snaps, Courgettes, Asparagus, and Baby corns.

However, you should note that market requirements are not the same as product specifications. It depends on what the client needs!.

 

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How Do I Monetize My Passion On Farming?

Farming is a business and so farmers must treat it as such. This starts with proper planning and diligent execution of all on-farm and off-farm activities. If you intend to make farming your business then keeping records is a very important activity to note. Tracking your income and expenditure, weather trends, the efficacy of applications and treatments on the farm, efficiencies of various technologies, amongst others, can determine your success or otherwise in farming. You cannot ignore records keeping from your daily chores on the farm.

Below are some of the tips that you can use to monetize your passion in farming.

Have A Long-Term Vision

If you have decided to be a farmer for a very long time, then it is always nice to have a clear long-term vision. A vision, as in any business, will be your long-term guide and motivation. Whenever you pause to ponder over your farms, your vision is what you weigh against progress to see if you are on the path to achieving what you envision. Altogether, your records will be a vital guide.

Set Clear Goals for Your Farms

Now, break long-term vision into short-term goals. Do not be too ambitious. Keeping records of various activities will help you track progress. Make sure the goals you set are in line with your vision and set up activities that can address the goals. Think of your resources and which farming enterprise to start with, in which season. Decide how to use your capital and how you intend to generate profit. With your knowledge of records keeping, you will steadily get to your vision.

Track Money Coming in And Going Out of The Farm

It is very critical for farmers to track their income and expenditure. Keep all your invoices, receipts and all documents relating to income and expenditure on your farm. Moreover, keep a journal to record all the monies spent especially on labour. Where there are more than one enterprise, you may keep records separately to be able to track progress on individual enterprises. Do not forget to record dates of various transactions. Your records will inform you, which months have the highest demands for money.

Learn From Your Data

The records you have kept will be your greatest tool moving forward to achieving your goals and ultimately your vision. From the records, you can compare the cost of inputs and their efficacies. Moreover, you can know from the data if you are truly making a profit. The data should be able to give you all the vital information you need, to make all the necessary changes or improvements. If you do not find any information you want, that in itself is enough information to know what to add to your records the next time around.

Calculate Your Own Labor Time and Where To Use It

Most farmers think that their own labor used on the farms are worth no money. However, keeping records of your own labor will help you know how to distribute it to maximize profit. Costing your labor will give you the true picture of the actual cost of production in a particular enterprise. Data on your labor will help you decide when or if you need to hire. Besides, it helps to take up other responsibilities in your farming enterprise.

Make Use of Available Resources

You do not need to be good at math or an expert accountant to keep good records. In fact, there are lots of resources available that you can use. You can dwell on your personal experience or that of other farmers. Furthermore, you can seek the help of an Extension officers from the nearest County Government’s offices.

Develop Successful Habits

Keeping good farm records is obviously one of the key habits you need to develop, as well as a focus. With a focus on the set goals and vision, you are always bent on learning from the data and improving. Develop the habit of organizing your records very well and making your future plans for them. Set times to look at your books. Either weekly, monthly or quarterly. This will help you concentrate on other activities and make an evaluation of your data at other times at specific intervals.

Doubled with your passion in farming, if you do the above, well we guarantee you success in farming. Make it an agribusiness and not just farming.

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10 Biggest Agricultural Venture That Guarantee More Money in Your Pocket

Farming in Kenya is picking up in a high speed and the youths haven’t been left out. If you are thinking of the best ways to make money through venturing in agricultural business, we have researched for you some of the best ideas.

To start with, some of these ventures don’t require much capital and the outcome results are somehow average.

  1. Fish Farming

Commercial fish farming business is a lucrative investment that can spin money at any time of the year continuously. With the implementation of modern techniques and having owned space, an entrepreneur can start this business with moderate capital investment.

  1. Piggery

Having a sufficient landholding an entrepreneur can start a piggery business. Among the various livestock species, piggery is most potential source for meat production and pigs are more efficient feed converters after the broiler. The major facility is pig farming requires a small investment in buildings and equipment.

  1. Vegetable Farming

Spinach, lettuce, pumpkin, broccoli, cabbage, and cucumber et al, are all vegetables that are consumed in every part of the globe and can also be cultivated in every part of the world. This goes to show that there is a very large market for vegetables. So, if you are looking towards starting an agricultural crop cultivation business, then one of your options is to go into vegetable farming.

  1. Mushroom Farming

Mushroom farming is one of the most profitable agricultural business ideas for young entrepreneurs, which has a turnaround period of only three weeks. Yes, you heard that right! And, it has huge profit potential with demand for good quality and organic mushrooms being high among restaurant owners as well as households.

  1. Poultry equipment manufacturing

These are usually skilled artisans who construct various equipment needed on the poultry farm – welders, carpenters, electricians etc. You can learn the various specifications needed for the poultry equipment and you are in business.

  1. Chicken and egg distribution business

This basically involves bridging the gap between poultry farmers and the consumer market. It is very lucrative and requires relatively little money to start-up. You can focus only on chicken, eggs or both. You meet poultry farmers, buy their stock and resell them in the market to wholesalers and retailers. It does not need any special skills, only your marketing abilities and a working vehicle.

  1. Fertilizer Distribution Business

If you like the idea of making a profit by helping people work with the soil, you might enjoy being a part of the fertilizer industry by starting fertilizer distribution business. Entrepreneurs can initiate fertilizer distribution business with a proper selection of products from any location. Find suppliers willing to do business at a suitable price in your area. Obtain quality products at a reasonable price from a reliable source. You can go for import also in the case of bulk purchase. In fertilizer distribution business, the source you choose will depend on your start-up budget.

Also Read: Different Types Of Poultry Farming And Their Products

  1. Soil Testing Lab

Soil Testing is agronomically sound, beneficial and environmentally responsive tool used for monitoring the nutrient as well as making precise fertilizer recommendations for various crops and cropping sequences ensuring no damage to the environment. Establishing a soil testing lab is one of an ideal agriculture business ideas in Kenya.

  1. Fodder Farming for Goats and Cows

Fodder is any agricultural foodstuff used specifically to feed domesticated livestock, such as chickens, horses, pigs, cattle and goats. The term refers to food given to animals, rather than the food they forage for themselves.

  1. Agrotourism

You could also offer a whole tourist experience at your farm where people can come visit and maybe even stay as part of a bed and breakfast type of experience.

Also read: Why Hass Avocado is the new Cash Crop

 

These are just but a few, if you are really interested in agricultural business, there are several others that you can start. Start today and you will never regret.

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What is organic farming and sustainable farming

Organic farming in Kenya is not a new practice and has been practiced over many years. It is a cultivation method which basically aims at growing crops in such a way, as to keep the soil alive and in good health by use of organic wastes (crop, animal and farm wastes, aquatic wastes) and other biological materials along with beneficial microbes (biofertilizers) to release nutrients to crops for increased sustainable production in an eco-friendly pollution free environment.

Organic farming is a system which avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetic inputs (such as fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, feed additives etc) and to the maximum extent feasible rely upon crop rotations, crop residues, animal manures, off-farm organic waste, mineral grade rock additives and biological system of nutrient mobilization and plant protection.

Organic agriculture is a unique production management system which promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity, and this is accomplished by using on-farm agronomic, biological and mechanical methods in exclusion of all synthetic off-farm inputs.

Read: The Demand For Honey Is Big, How About You Think Of Bee Keeping

Sustainable farming

With the increase in population our compulsion would be not only to stabilize agricultural production but to increase it further in sustainable manner. The scientists have realized that the ‘Green Revolution’ with high input use has reached a plateau and is now sustained with diminishing return of falling dividends. Thus, a natural balance needs to be maintained at all cost for existence of life and property. The obvious choice for that would be more relevant in the present era, when these agrochemicals which are produced from fossil fuel and are not renewable and are diminishing in availability. It may also cost heavily on our foreign exchange in future.

The key characteristics of organic farming include

  • Protecting the long-term fertility of soils by maintaining organic matter levels, encouraging soil biological activity, and careful mechanical intervention
  • Providing crop nutrients indirectly using relatively insoluble nutrient sources which are made available to the plant by the action of soil micro-organisms
  • Nitrogen self-sufficiency through the use of legumes and biological nitrogen fixation, as well as effective recycling of organic materials including crop residues and livestock manures
  • Weed, disease and pest control relying primarily on crop rotations, natural predators, diversity, organic manuring, resistant varieties and limited (preferably minimal) thermal, biological and chemical intervention
  • The extensive management of livestock, paying full regard to their evolutionary adaptations, behavioural needs and animal welfare issues with respect to nutrition, housing, health, breeding and rearing
  • Careful attention to the impact of the farming system on the wider environment and the conservation of wildlife and natural habitats.

Read: How to get more customers for your agricultural products

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How to get more customers for your agricultural products

Rearing animals, agri-tourism, fiber, yarn, new or cooked food, cultivate related services—the rundown of potential money streams for your farm is just constrained by your interest, time and imagination. Your farm produce marketing plan begins with a basic list of the major products and services at present offer or need to offer later on. An effective plan can help extend your client base and prompt extra income.

Read: Successful fish farming in Kenya

Identify your farm’s market

If asked the question, “Who are you marketing your farm product to?” your first instinct might be to say “Anyone who will buy.” But if you put some thought into it you’ll realize the answer is much more complex. Do women or men buy more frequently from you? Are your customers young, middle-aged or retired? Do they belong to a certain ethnic group? Do your buyers tend to be of a certain income level? Do they live in a particular area or are they geographically dispersed?

If your farm already has customers, think of your best ones. Who are they and how would you describe them? If you’re just starting out and don’t have customers yet, observe your potential competitors and their customer base. By knowing who your customers or prospects are, you can increase the likelihood they will buy from you by tailoring your marketing message to their needs and desires.

Keep in mind that your target demographic might be different for the different products and services you offer. If you have a sheep/goat farm, for instance, your breeding stock buyers may be local farmers, while buyers might be located in a large city a few hours away, and the middle-aged female hand spinners who buy your fleeces might be spread all across the country.

Read: The Demand For Honey Is Big, How About You Think Of Bee Keeping

Set your farm apart

It’s important for any business to establish its unique selling proposition, or USP. A USP is the answer to the question, “Why should someone do business with me instead of my competition?” What unique benefits does your farm offer? Freshness, quality, personal service, rarity … these can all be part of your USP.

A good USP is a clear, simple and concise statement of the benefits you offer. Along with your product line and target demographic, your USP becomes your North Star, always guiding you even when things seem foggy and the future uncertain.

Spend some time creating your USP and write it down in a prominent spot, be it in the gardening shed, barn or office. Your USP should be kept front and center as a constant reminder of your farm’s purpose and direction.

Now that you’ve established what you’re selling, whom you’re selling it to and what makes it different, you’re ready to get down to the nitty-gritty aspects of implementing a marketing plan. Most marketing plans incorporate a variety of components. Among those you will need to consider include a logo, tagline, website, association membership, advertising, events, customer service, timing and budget.

Create a farm logo.

Your farm’s logo can be something as simple as your farm name in a distinctive font, or it can be more intricate and include illustrated elements that pertain to your product or farm name. A logo should project a business image based on your goals and objectives, and elicit a general feeling for your brand. For example, if you have a wildflower farm that caters to a female clientele, you may want your logo to evoke romance, using soft, natural colors (grass green, sunflower yellow, sky blue or pastels) and a more feminine font to achieve this.

While you can create a farm logo on your computer that is suitable for desktop printing, if you plan on expanding your marketing efforts into packaging, professionally printed materials and signage, you might want to enlist the help of a professional graphic designer. Sign makers, embroiderers and commercial printers all have specific requirements for file format and quality that is difficult to achieve with most home or small-business software. A graphic designer can help you achieve a more polished look and will be able to provide you with the specific file formats you’ll need later on.

If you decide to have your logo professionally designed, finding the right designer is important. Do they know your business or businesses similar to yours? Do they have a style you find appealing? If you want illustrated elements in your logo, can they design these for you or are they limited to using readily available clip art?

The designer should provide you with a few versions of your logo including a high-resolution file for print use (300 dpi), a low-resolution file for web use (72 dpi) and some type of vector file format for embroidery use.

Write a tagline

Ideally, your tagline should be tailored so closely to your brand that competitors can’t substitute their names in it.

Start your tagline brainstorming process by noticing those you see every day on TV, in magazine ads and on the radio. Think about what you want your farm brand to communicate with its tagline. Start putting ideas on paper. Don’t worry about how silly some of the ideas might seem at first, just get them on paper and the right choice will emerge.

Launch a website

There’s no denying it—today’s farmer needs to be technologically savvy, and for most of us, an effective farm marketing plan includes having a website. A website is cost effective and reaches a wide number of customers. Whether you use your site as a static farm brochure to get your name out or actually sell products online, a website can help take your marketing to the next level without a huge investment.

Armed with the photos, text and guidance you provide, a web designer will work to incorporate these elements, along with your logo and tagline, to create a unified site that is consistent with the rest of your farm marketing efforts. Costs will vary depending on the complexity of your needs, whether you are selling products online, the completeness of the information you provide and subsequent revisions.

Join farm associations

Association membership can also be a cost-effective way to market your farm and its products. Membership fees are generally modest, and benefits include newsletter subscriptions and a printed and/or web-based listing in the association’s membership directory

Attend farm-related events

Be it festivals, farmers’ markets, seminars, demonstrations or farm open houses, events provide you with an excellent opportunity to market your products in a hands-on environment. Just as some buyers aren’t comfortable buying from catalogs, some of your customers are likely to want one-on-one contact with you and your products or animals before making a purchase decision.

Having a wide variety of products and presenting them well is important, too. Other events, like open farm days or demonstrations at the local fair can also drum up business for you. Contact your local paper and see if they’d be interested in covering what you’re doing to further increase your exposure.

Begin advertising

Display advertising in a glossy magazine might not be within your budget, but perhaps a small classified ad is. Show programs and newsletters can also provide cost-effective advertising opportunities. Keep in mind that you only have a limited amount of time to catch readers’ attention, so your headline should pique their interest and make them want to read on. Always be sure to include your farm name, your phone number and your website address in any advertising you do. If you have room, also include your logo and tagline.

Provide good customer service.

Many times the best marketing practice is also the cheapest to implement. This is never truer than in the marketing benefit of good customer service. Good customer service doesn’t cost any more to deliver than bad customer service, but bad customer service can literally cost you your business. Whether it is standing behind a sale, answering voicemail and email promptly, or handwriting a thank-you note to put in with an order, small efforts can make a big difference!

Establish a marketing budget and calendar

In your startup years, your farm marketing budget might be 5 to 10 percent of your gross sales figure, but as time goes on and word-of-mouth begins to work for you, your marketing budget might drop to 2 to 3 percent of gross sales. Creating a marketing budget and calendar for your marketing year is a good way to set goals and keep yourself on track.

If your farm business has a natural downtime (as many farms do), this is a great time to plan your marketing. You’ll have fewer distractions, less stress and will be able to come up with more creative ideas than when you’re in the height of your busy season. Marketing isn’t hard to do, it’s just easy to put off doing when it seems like a million tasks are more pressing.

Evaluate your success

The success of your farm marketing plan can be gauged in many different ways. Ask yourself these questions after you’ve given your newly implemented marketing plan time to work.

  • Did I retain more customers?
  • Did I get new customers?
  • Were my existing customers more satisfied?
  • Was my job easier and more fun?
  • Did I sell more?
  • Did I make a larger profit?
  • Did my farm products sell more quickly?
  • Are there some potential customers that might turn into sales in the coming year as a result of this year’s marketing?

After some time, as your farm business develops, you will without a doubt grow your marketing methods, be it sprucing up your product packaging, having handouts professionally printed, conveying official statements, or getting signage made for your farm store or show booth. There will always be a continuing stream of marketing possibilities to consider. Keep an open mind. In the event that there’s something you can’t legitimize fiscally today however think would be an awesome advertising thought, in a year your expanding deals may make it possible.

Also Read: Here Are The Things To Consider When Establishing Drip Irrigation In Your Farm

 

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10 Reasons Why You Should Grow Your Crops Organically

There is nothing like biting into a fresh ripe apple plucked your Shamba. This is just one of the pleasures you can enjoy when you grow your own crops. There was a time when people didn’t give much thought about the foods they buy in the grocery stores. Food safety is one of the main reasons for growing more of our own organic foods, but there are so many other reasons too. Here are the top 10 reasons to grow your own organic crops:

Superior Flavor

There is nothing like biting into a fresh ripe tomato or snacking on string beans plucked from the vine as you putter through the garden.

Many of the varieties of fruits and vegetables sold in grocery stores are adapted for commercial farming. Through selecting and breeding specific traits, these strains are developed to produce more per plant, be ready for harvesting all at once, have a longer shelf life, be uniform size and shape, ship without bruising, and often times finish ripening on trucks during shipping. Even when you purchase organic vegetables, this breeding can compromise flavor. The taste and texture of a grocery store tomato cannot compare to one that is freshly picked from a plant growing in your own garden.

Read: How To Establish An Arrow Root Farm

More Variety

Growing from quality transplants from your local nursery or starting your own seedlings under lights allows you to select from so many different varieties that offer greater flavor and texture than what is available in the grocery stores. You can choose from hundreds of varieties based on flavor, shape, and color. When you grow your own, you can select varieties that are adapted to your growing area or mature in a short period.

No Chemicals

You control the growing environment of your garden. There is no need for chemicals and pesticides in your backyard garden. If you have problems with disease or pests, there is usually an organic remedy to solve it. In worst-case scenarios, you simply chalk that particular crop up to a loss, pull the plants, and plant something else in its place.

These are some of the easiest garden vegetables to grow in your own backyard garden without using pesticides.

Food Safety

Growing and harvesting food from your backyard garden ensures you know where your food came from. I cringe every single time I hear about a food-borne illness on the news and there have been many since my eye-opening experience back in 2006.

Healthier Eating

Tending to your garden and growing your own food will teach you to eat in season when flavors and nutrients are at peak. When you have a lot of harvests to use up, you tend to eat more vegetables and think of creative ways to prepare them so nothing goes to waste. Since they are harvested fresh, the natural flavors of the vegetables shine and do not need additional oils, salt, or other additives to make them taste good.

Fruits and vegetables that ripen naturally in the garden and are consumed within days of harvest have more nutrients than store-bought vegetables. Most of the vegetables that line the grocery store produce section are picked early, shipped to warehouses, distributed to the stores, and stay in storage or on the shelf for a while until you purchase them. Over time, the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables declines. Not only do freshly picked fruits and vegetables taste better, but they also have a higher nutritional value.

Read: Success on bee keeping this is what you need to know

Outdoor Exercise

During the growing season, gardening gets you out in the fresh air and sunshine regularly. There are a lot of different movements in gardening that require strength or stretching. Digging, planting, weeding, and other repetitive tasks are excellent forms of low-impact exercise.

Did you know that 45 minutes of farming burns the same amount of calories as running 1.5 miles in 15 minutes? Regular physical activity can help you feel better and improve your well-being because it relieves stress, boosts energy and releases tension.

Reduction in Food Waste

None of the fruits and vegetables harvested on our property go to waste. We make every effort to eat or preserve all the food harvested from the garden. Whatever scraps or trimmings we don’t consume is either fed to our hens or added to the compost bin to be returned to the garden again as nutrients. We also give away excess harvests if we are unable to use it.

Saves Money at the Grocery Store

Many will challenge that gardening saves money. When the garden bug hits, it is easy to find yourself purchasing cute pots, plant stakes, and gardening gadgets on the market. If you stick to the basics, gardening really doesn’t cost much in supplies in comparison to the amount of food it produces.

Even if you grow a small garden for fresh eating, you will save money. For example, a package of organic kale greens cost at least Ksh10 at my local grocery store and is usually only enough for a few servings. If you grow your own from a package of good-quality organic seeds, it costs half that and produces for a longer period of time yielding about 6 Kilos of greens.

Food Security

The World Health Organization states that food security is achieved when “all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.”

Growing your own food garden contributes to your food security by providing direct access to food that can be harvested, prepared and fed to your family daily during the growing season. If you learn how to preserve your harvest, you will be able to stock your Pantry and feed your family even when the growing season is over.

Sense of Pride

Planting a seed, watching it sprout and grow to produce food for you, and your family is one of the most gratifying feelings. Sure, many of us work hard to earn a living and provide for our family, but the close association of this simple effort and direct reward is fulfilling.

I love the feeling of pride as I look over a meal I prepared with vegetables from my garden. I revel in the sensation of accomplishment as I stock with potatoes, onions, garlic, other storage crops.

Also Read: 7 Requirements Of Successful Bee Farming, Number 3 Is The Most Important

 

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Why You Should Farm Organically?

As our knowledge of the harmful effects of agricultural chemicals grows, more and more farmers and consumers are rediscovering their organic history, returning to the methods of old, such as plucking insect pests and weeds by hand and hoe, and amending soil with natural fertilizers—compost. The joy in growing your own food is the joy in savoring its delicious flavor and in providing good food for others to enjoy. Discover how to rebuild your garden with an organic foundation and produce the vegetables, fruits and herbs that will nourish your family and the families of those who purchase your produce.

The general principles of organic production, include the following:

  • protect the environment, minimize soil degradation and erosion, decrease pollution, optimize biological productivity and promote a sound state of health
  • maintain long-term soil fertility by optimizing conditions for biological activity within the soil
  • maintain biological diversity within the system
  • recycle materials and resources to the greatest extent possible within the enterprise
  • provide attentive care that promotes the health and meets the behavioural needs of livestock
  • prepare organic products, emphasizing careful processing, and handling methods in order to maintain the organic integrity and vital qualities of the products at all stages of production
  • rely on renewable resources in locally organized agricultural systems

Organic farming promotes the use of crop rotations and cover crops, and encourages balanced host/predator relationships. Organic residues and nutrients produced on the farm are recycled back to the soil. Cover crops and composted manure are used to maintain soil organic matter and fertility. Preventative insect and disease control methods are practiced, including crop rotation, improved genetics and resistant varieties. Integrated pest and weed management, and soil conservation systems are valuable tools on an organic farm

Organic farming presents many challenges. Some crops are more challenging than others to grow organically; however, nearly every commodity can be produced organically.

Related content: Pomegranate fruit Farming: Find Out About Diseases in Pomegranate

Why Farm Organically?

The main reasons farmers state for wanting to farm organically are their concerns for the environment and about working with agricultural chemicals in conventional farming systems. There is also an issue with the amount of energy used in agriculture, since many farm chemicals require energy intensive manufacturing processes that rely heavily on fossil fuels. Organic farmers find their method of farming to be profitable and personally rewarding.

Related Content: How To Become A Successful Grape Farmer in Kenya

Why Buy Organic?

Consumers purchase organic foods for many different reasons. Many want to buy food products that are free of chemical pesticides or grown without conventional fertilizers. Some simply like to try new and different products. Product taste, concerns for the environment and the desire to avoid foods from genetically engineered organisms are among the many other reasons some consumers prefer to buy organic food products.

Organic farming can be a viable alternative production method for farmers, but there are many challenges. One key to success is being open to alternative organic approaches to solving production problems. Determine the cause of the problem, and assess strategies to avoid or reduce the long term problem rather than a short term fix for it.

For more information, kindly visit our offices or call us. Also book your seedlings early enough for the next rainy season!!

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How well-planned are you for tree fruit farming this season?

Before planting your first fruit tree, you should conduct your own research regarding production, marketing, and financing the enterprise.

When considering tree fruit production, careful planning and research is critical to your success. There are many considerations you should address and some of these may be a few months in advance of planting your first tree.

Your first consideration should be your marketing plan. How do you intend to sell your fruit? You may be considering wholesale markets however; do you have enough acreage to produce the volume to be profitable? If you plan to retail your production, who and where are your customers? With the increasing popularity of hard cider operations, this may be an option.

Book your seedlings Earlier

You will probably need to order trees two months in advance. Before ordering trees you should decide if you will be planting apples, tree-tomato, avocado, macadamia, pawpaw, oranges, lemons, pears, or stone fruit (cherry, peach, nectarine, apricot, plum, ). Also before ordering, you need to decide the cultivars, rootstock, and tree density. You should talk to your potential markets to determine what cultivars are popular now and what may be popular in the future (We can help you with that).

Related Content: Best Tips of Growing Grapes In Kenya

Related Content: Earn Ksh500,000 Per Acre/ Year by Growing Pawpaw

When deciding on apple cultivars you will need to choose at least two cultivars for pollination. Some cultivars require three different pollens to produce fruit. You may also choose to use another type of tree such as crab apples to pollinate your cultivars. Consult your nursery to determine which cultivars work well together.

The topography of your land may dictate tree density. Steeper slopes may mean more space between rows but between tree spacing may remain as planned. Keep in mind that you will be operating equipment in the orchard at least weekly. Also, higher density orchards require more management than lower density orchards. High density orchards also require irrigation and a support system.

A high density (900 trees per acre), fresh fruit orchard may cost 150,000 per acre to establish while a medium density (150 tree per acre, e.g Avocado) may cost 45000 per acre to establish. The smaller trees will produce a crop earlier than medium sized trees so your management skills may impact your decision.

Labor is another consideration when deciding on an orchard. Will you need more than family labor and, if so, what is the source of the additional labor?

It will be several years before you begin to see a return on your investment so plan accordingly. Also, consult your accountant as trees cannot be deprecated for several years after planting. Production expenses are deductible but the trees are not.

After considering all of your options and conducting hours of research you should be able to make an informed decision.

If you really need to start an orchard and you are stuck halfway, don’t lose hope, visit our offices or give us a call and we will guide you through.

For those who have already decided, this is the time to book your seedlings.