Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Promoting conservation agriculture through field days

By James Mwai
Farmers from Naibrom area of Ol-Moran Ward in Laikipia West Sub County on February 11, 2016 learned about conservation agriculture and specifically its many benefits to smallholder farmers during a field day organized by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries at Mrs. Naomi Ngonyo’s farm.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has collaborated with Laikipia County Government to implement FA0-Institutional Procurement Programme (IPP) and Conservation Agriculture/Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) project. The project aims to ensure sustainable production and environmental protection in conservation agriculture.
The demonstration plot enabled an evidence based learning, as farmers were able to see how different crops like maize, sunflower, dolichos, cowpeas and desmodium perform under conservation agriculture.
Some farmers being shown how a ripper works
Farmers were able to learn about weed management, soil fertility management and soil cover and cover crops. In addition, they learned about minimum tillage, direct seedlings, weed management, and cover crops equipment.
Speaking during the field day, Mr. James Kamau, Olmoran Ward Agriculture officer urged farmers to replicate what they learn and to teach others so that more farmers can also adopt conservation agriculture.
“Conservation Agriculture is one of the ways in which we can use to mitigate against the adverse effects of Climate Change. We are using demonstration plots and field days to ensure farmers adopt it,” said Mr. Kamau.
He said that conservation agriculture enables farmers to combine profitable agricultural production with environmental concerns and sustainability.
He informed farmers that adoption of conservation agriculture would enable them to reduce soil degradation caused by mechanical tillage, minimize effects of drought, reduce produce cost, and enhance ecosystem services.
“Soil under conservation agriculture has very high water infiltration capacities thus reducing surface runoff and soil erosion which in turn improves the quality of surface water and an enhancement of ground water resources,” said Mr. Kamau.

He said that conservation agriculture is a holistic approach that comprises three key principles namely use of crop residue, crop rotations, and minimum tillage system.
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