At this juncture, we have gone beyond the first half of the normal rainy season. Normally our rainy season spans from October to March. Sadly, the rains have not been satisfactorily forthcoming. The 2019 to 2020 cropping season has been severely cast into disarray due to below-average rainfall. The experts have given strong indications that yet another drought is looming. This will, unfortunately, add onto the effects of last season which was also marked by paltry rainfall patterns. Water availability, crop and livestock performance will be some of the topmost areas to be affected. In light of all this is important for farmers to start reimagining their farming methods. Herein I shall touch on 5 areas farmers must consider.
Farmers need to move away from sole dependence on natural weather patterns and natural settings. Clearly most farmers are failing to realize good yields because they still do their farming banking on the rainy season. For several years now it has increasingly become apparent that rainfall patterns have been changing negatively. It has also become commonplace for long stretches of extreme heat. A way around this is to start using controlled environments such as greenhouses. Greenhouses have the huge potential to lead to high and reliable yields – you can even farm crops all year round. Climate change is real and we are seeing its menacing effects thus the use of controlled environments must become a top consideration by farmers.
Reliance on natural rainfall is no longer sustainable for farming. Moreover, we now experience higher than usual temperatures so even after it rains, soil moisture quickly dwindles. The solution to this is irrigation and successful farming nowadays depends on it. The types of irrigation and approaches are several so it is up to you to settle for one that works best for you. You can use existing water bodies such as dams, rivers, and so on. Better still, you can sink boreholes – this is much more reliable and consistent. You could employ the use of conservative approaches such as drip irrigation which requires limited amounts of water but with impressive results. Not only will adopting irrigation aid you in crop farming but also in livestock production.
GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROP VARIETIES
Farmers must now consider genetically modified crop varieties that are impervious to the effects of poor weather conditions. Research has been and is still being done in coming up with crop varieties that can withstand extreme drought, heat and have nutritional augmentation encoded into them. One of the most popular ones is a maize variety called ZS242 which grows quite rapidly. There is, of course, a lot of controversy and conspiracy theories regarding genetically modified organisms (GMOs). However, they have been proven to be an effective solution to the incidence of drought.
RAIN WATER HARVESTING
Generally, rainfall is now paltry for the most part but usually when it rains there are excessive downpours. This is where most farmers have lost it because they normally prefer the rain to come down consistently over extended periods. With this thinking, they are totally oblivious of the missed opportunity of collecting rainwater for later use in their farming. Rainwater harvesting can no longer be a luxury of sorts but rather it should now be imperative. There are many ways to use to harvest rainwater for later use. One of them is to collect it from the rooftops into tanks. You can also redirect from sloppy areas into pools or trenches for use later. These are just some few methods but I urge you to look more into rainwater harvesting as a farmer.
PREMISE DECISIONS ON EXPERT ADVICE
For years farmers have mostly relied on personally accumulated knowledge on their farming practices. Thus most farmers have always operated with the working theory that they know what they are doing. However, that approach can be costly these days because so much has changed over time. We now have numerous tech and scientific innovations in farming. Earlier I talked about climate change which is a new variable that begs a fresh look at most farming practices. All this culminates in the need for farmers to premise whatever decisions they make on expert knowledge or advice. It is important to consult the local Meteorological Department and other specialist agricultural arms for assistance. Even objective surfing of the internet can expose you to so much invaluable information that will enhance your farming. Particularly in light of climate change, you must get expert insights that will equip you with the right information to be a successful farmer despite the harsh weather patterns.
These are just 5 of some of the ways farmers must reimagine their farming methods. In as far as climate change is real it does not mean that all hope is lost. We are in thick of a fourth industrial revolution (4IR) therefore there are potent ways to beat the effects of climate change. As a farmer, you must appreciate that it is no longer business as usual so you must update your knowledge and do things differently.