October the skies opened up and we had our first downpour cooling down the scorching heat and providing much-needed moisture for the ground and vegetation. The rains look promising this season. Last season the rains were short-lived resulting in poor crops and the need to import food. Hopefully this season we can produce enough to feed ourselves and have extra to export should we be so lucky.
Most farmers and urban farmers will be hard at work now getting their land and plots ready to plant Maize in November early December. Maize needs nitrogen and phosphates in order to produce a good crop. The application of phosphates is only of full benefit if the land is in good heart in other respects, especially in humus. Phosphates that stimulate root growth in the early stages and are necessary for the formation of grain, may for a few years help to produce a crop of maize in spite of the soil’s physical condition deteriorating and supplies of soil nitrogen running low and when this happens it merely masks a state of affairs that, if allowed to continue, will lead to a general impoverishment of the soil and its inability to grow a payable crop. Most successful growers know the benefits of green manuring and kraal manure to add humus to the soil to keep it in good condition, which is vital in producing a good crop, so practice crop rotation and green manuring in their land management. Growing a legume crop in rotation such as cowpeas and velvet beans and sun hemp as a green manuring crop can add valuable nitrogen to the soil as well as humus for the next crop of maize. Composting of farm waste is a good practice in giving back to the soil what has been taken out in crop production and should not be overlooked.
Farming is an art as much as a science and if a farmer fails in his art and does damage to his land, it’s fertility will disappear and his living with it.