Helping the soil to hold more water
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CTA. 2007. Helping the soil to hold more water. Rural Radio Resource Pack 07/1. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57195
Adding compost and farmyard manure to soil both increases fertility and soil health, and improves the water holding content.
Cue: What kind of soil is good for growing crops? An obvious answer is a fertile soil, one that contains large quantities of the minerals and nutrients that plants need. It is also good to have a soil which can hold a lot of water. Soil with good water holding capacity can sustain plants for longer during dry spells, thereby saving crops that might otherwise dry up and die. Adding organic matter to the soil, such as compost or animal manure, improves the quality of the soil in both ways. It increases nutrient levels and also increases the water holding capacity. It also gives the soil a better structure, by creating larger spaces between the soil particles. This improves the infiltration of rainwater, and gives the plant roots the air that they need to function. Mathias Ngong is a banana farmer in the village of Babungo in Cameroon?s North West province. He is also an expert on using organic manure. Martha Chindong asked him what he had learned about applying compost and animal dung from his many years of farming. IN: ?Can you just tell us the methods ?? OUT: ??have your manure without straining.? DUR?N: 4?38? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Mathias Ngong, a banana farmer from Cameroon?s North West province, explaining to Martha Chindong about the value of manure and compost to boost the water holding capacity of the soil, and improve his harvests of bananas. The interview comes from a radio resource pack produced by CTA. Transcript Chindong Can you just tell us the methods, better ways of applying organic manure? Ngong Yes first of all to make organic manure is simple. You get all this grass that we clear from the compound, get some wood ash, get soil, put it underneath. If you have some cow dung or any dung, put it on it and then you put your grass, just drop a bit of water and allow it there. It is good to do it before the rainy season and then when water drops on it, it gets rotten. It gives you very good compost manure which you can use. Anybody can do that very easily. Then for those who have the dung, either goat droppings, fowl droppings, cow dung, those are good manures too that you can use, but with this one you must allow it for sometime. You know before you apply on the plant you allow it to decompose. The heat will come out and then it will be soft, you will not damage the plant. Now even with the bananas you see, when I want to plant banana I dig the hole, sizeable - about 60 centimetres wide and 60 deep, put the compost manure which you have prepared, put it under, fine, mix it with soil, surface soil. The soil right deep under, take it away because that one has no use. The surface soil, mix it and then you plant your suckers and some people use very tall suckers to plant, this is not good. You plant suckers which have no leaves yet, sometimes very little suckers, put them, bury them in the ground, let them disappear and let them come out by themselves. Then when they come out the results will be very good. Chindong Can you just tell us the methods, better ways of applying organic manure? Ngong Well you get under the plants, soften the soil, you soften the soil around it then get the manure, put it round the plant. As water is entering it is sinking into the soil, it will help the roots of the plant to gain food and it will grow very well. Then to protect it from sunlight, if you are a farmer you must prepare some of these things. When you clear your grass do not throw, pack it somewhere. This grass you will use to what we locally call you give the VIP treatment to the plant. Chindong That is mulching? Ngong Yes mulching, you mulch the plant now with grass so that the soil under the plant remains moist, wet. The sun will be there quite alright but you find the plant fresh because the underneath is soft and the grass prevents sun from heating directly into the soil to burn the roots and make it weak and dry up the water. That is how you can give some VIP treatment to your plant. Chindong That is what I am seeing in front of us? Ngong That is what I have done here, as you can see. If you like I can open the soil and you see, down there. Once in a while, if you planted vegetables and so on this hand fork is very important. You loosen the soil with it like this, soften it round. You are not damaging the roots but you are giving room for air to get into the soil, because if it is harder, you have been throwing water the surface is hard, the plant will not grow. You soften it once in a while. You know if you are a farmer you must devote time. You soften it as I am doing this one like this, when you soften, soften, it gives room for water to penetrate easily and air, because air gets into the soil too. It will help your plant to pick up. Chindong Ok if you want to broadcast, say you want to plant on a large surface, can you carry the manure like what we are seeing, in this bucket, and throw on the ridge before you hoe it? Is it necessary, is it important? Ngong Yes, it is important. If you have the cow dung in large quantities you soften the soil, throw the manure in it and at the time you are forming the ridges the manure is just getting into those ridges ? that is, after you have dug the place put your manure. Then when you are forming the ridges the manure is already getting into the soil. It makes the whole place, even if it was barren it would be now rich for planting. Chindong The only thing is that to have a large quantity of it is difficult too? Ngong Well, many more farmers are understanding now the use of organic manure so the rush for it is high. So it is also advisable to do what we call mixed farming, because you had 3, 4, 5 pigs and some poultry around, you always have your manure without straining. End of track