As we all say modern problems require modern solutions, restrictions to tame the spread of Covid-19 has accelerated farmers' advance to organic farming due to inadequate farm inputs and overpriced farm inputs.
Organic farming aims in eliminating excessive use of chemicals on crops.
Joyce Nyakio, a farmer from Kirinyaga County, has been practising organic farming. She prepares her compost manure to avoid the spread of diseases to her soil.
She will be sharing how she prepares her compost manure to give her tremendous result on her farm and also reduce her production cost.
"When making compost manure, one needs a pit; in my case one-two metres long, 1.5 m wide and 1.5 m deep," she advises.
She prefers the pit method due to its efficiency while managing the compost.
"I use crop residues, animal waste and organic household garbage," she adds.
She advises farmers to choose plant residues that decompose easily.
"Weed can also be used but you need to be very careful to avoid the spread of weeds seeds in the fields. If you have to use weeds, it is advisable to ensure they have not produced seeds," Nyakio pointed out.
Manure value to the farm
She holds that it is cheap and easy to make compared to buying inorganic fertilisers.
"I use it since it prevents environmental pollution, improves soil structure in terms of its texture, water holding capacity and encourages microorganisms such as earthworms which help in soil aeration," she said.
Organic manure lasts longer compared to fertilisers that last only for a season. It will provide the crops with the required nutrients hence producing continuous incredible yields.
Manure making procedure
Choose a well-drained area before you start digging your pits.
"Collect plant residues such as grass, cleared bushes, weeds from your farm, organic household garbage and animal waste," Nyakio explained.
To speed up the decomposition process, she ensures the plant residues are in small sizes. She uses a chaff cutter to reduce plants residue size.
She said that she uses one pit to collect animal waste and the other pit is used to mix and decompose animal waste with the other waste materials.
"Mix the plant residues with animal waste thoroughly and leave it to decompose. You can use all sort of animal wastes available to increase the nutrient content in the manure," says Joyce.
Farmers can use animal waste from poultry, pigs, goats, cattle and donkeys. According to her, pig waste is very nutritious to the plants.
"Add water to make mixing easier and pave way for faster decomposition."
Water encourages microorganisms’ presence that aid in the decomposition of the materials.
The whole process requires at least two months. Two weeks is for collecting the materials into the first pit, mix during the third week, leave them to decompose in the second pit for about month then remove the compost manure from the pit to a heap where it decomposes further and dries up for two weeks depending on the weather.
Farmers are advised to keep on rolling the compost as it integrates oxygen into the pit and breaks up clumps. Mixing allows more contact of manure with microorganisms, kill pathogens and decompose weed seeds.
Joyce recounts that her cost of production has reduced. She would spend almost Sh22000 per season on fertiliser. After every two months, she makes two tonnes of manure and spends Sh600 only for labour. In a year, she can make 10 tonnes of manure which is enough for planting and topdressing.
This has helped her a lot since she can save about Sh18000 per season. Her recently planted spinach and cabbage looks very healthy and large.
She advises other farmers to avoid excessive use of inorganic fertilisers since they degrade the environment and kill microorganisms in the soil.
"Compost manure is easy to make from readily available materials, reduces the production cost and improves the soil fertility," she added.