At least 200 farmers in Isinya, Kajiado East constituency, have been trained on crop nutrition, with a focus on onion, cabbage, and tomato farming.
The training, which was conducted by Yara Kenya, a crop nutrition company providing farmers with knowledge to sustainably improve crop yields, quality, and profits, saw farmers learn how to take care of crops right from choosing seedlings to post-harvest care.
Godfrey Ikigu, an agronomist with the company, said that it is important for farmers to take care of their soil by avoiding acidification, soil erosion, and heavy metals, as it is the first determinant of whether the farmer will reap a bumper harvest.
“The first objective of the farmer is to take care of the soil, as it is the first contact of the seedling. Your crop is like you; it must have a balanced nutrition, and there are nutrients that are not available in our soils, thus the need to focus on what is not available and supplement it through fertilisers,” said the agronomist.
Ikigu urged the farmers to balance the soil nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sulphur with trace elements like zinc, chlorine, copper, and iron, depending on the crops they are growing.
He advises the farmers to carry out soil analysis and focus on what is not available in the soil so that they can provide it with the relevant products and nutrients for better balance and, consequently, a better yield.
Ikigu advised farmers who practice drip irrigation to use the fertigation technique, which supplies dissolved fertilisers to the soil through the irrigation system, as it minimises losses, provides precise nutrition, and ensures environmental protection as it helps control soil alkalinity.
He encouraged the farmers to continue applying fertiliser every three weeks in their tomato fields, even after the first harvest, so that they could harvest for up to six months.
“Unfortunately, most farmers stop feeding their tomato crops with the right fertiliser after the first harvest. This should not be the case, as with the right nutrients, the farmer can harvest tomatoes for six months, ensuring that farmer gets maximum profits,” said Ikiga.
He added, “With climate change, let us also embrace sustainable farming like organic farming, crop rotation, minimum tillage, and agroforestry, among others, in addition to embracing precision agriculture. Let us also take care of our health and those of our farm workers by ensuring we use safety gear.”
Francis Kerei, a beneficiary of the training, appreciated Yara Kenya, saying that he will now incorporate what he has learnt on his farm for better yields.
“For long, I have been using cow manure as the only fertiliser on my farm, and the yields have reduced over the years. I am glad I have learnt that I need to provide the soil with all the needed nutrients at a specific time of crop growth for it to be more productive,” said Kerei.
The one-day training was held at Limitless Fresh Farm.
Yara Kenya is part of Yara EA Ltd., which is a subsidiary of Yara International SA.
By Diana Meneto