Land Preparation and Related Equipment

Land Preparation
  1. Conventional methods
  • The hand hoe is the most commonly used equipment by smallholder farmers though it is slow and labor-intensive.
  • Animal traction: this involves use oxen to plough land, although it is not suitable under heavy soils and steep terrain. This method is the most appropriate, affordable, reliable and proven technology for small and medium scale farmers;
  • Conventional tractors open extensive land for commercial farming.
  • Walking tractors (Power tillers) can be used by small and medium scale farmers.

2. Conservation Tillage (CT)

  • Is also referred to as no-till/zero till, minimum /reduced till, and ridge (ripper) till. It is an agricultural management approach that aims to minimize the frequency or intensity of tillage operations in an effort to promote certain economic and environmental benefits.
  • The principle of conservation tillage involves maintenance of at least 30% surface soil cover through retention of crop residues.
  • Retention of crop residue protects the soil from direct impact of raindrops and sunlight while the minimal soil disturbance enhances soil biological activities as well as soil air and water movement.
  • Under CT use of non-selective herbicides mainly Glyphosate is paramount.
  • Depending on the area to be tilled, remove all tree stumps and other barriers like ant-hills. If the area is covered with thick thicket, first slash down the bush, wait for the new germination of weeds and then spray herbicides (Round-up, Weedmaster, Mamba, and Weedall).
  • CT allows timely planting at a reduced cost, improves soil structure, increases water infiltration and soil moisture retention. In addition, it creates more soil organic matter, controls weeds, reduces soil erosion, reduce labor and energy requirements.
  • Under CT, the farmer should adhere to the adequate planting depth since the seed needs more energy to penetrate the sub-soil with its roots and the top soil with its shoot as compared to a ploughed field.

Application of manure

Compost or animal manure should be added at rate of 2 – 4tons per acre during the first cultivation to allow for adequate decomposition and any weed seeds carried along to also germinate before the final tilling session prior to planting.

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