As the 2017 rainy season farming period sets in, farmers have been advised to adhere strictly to best agronomic practices for bumper harvests.
Our reporter spoke to experts including agronomists and experienced farmers, who said there was no room for short cuts or speculations in farming, pointing out that precision agriculture remains the key to success in the business.
One of the experts, Anthony Onah, an agronomist and farm management consultant, said timing of farming activities and operations is paramount and must not be neglected by farmers.
He said, “Farmers must not ignore the element of time and rainfall predictions because if you rush to plant when the rains have not stabilised, your crops will fail as the rains cease.”
He identified site selection and land preparation as important items to also be taken seriously by farmers, saying “the farmer should get a fertile and flat land, which must be properly tilled and all stumps removed to ease operations and smooth plant growth.”
The farmers can plant on ridges or flat land but should ensure that good quality, improved seeds not grains are planted in line with recommended plant population per hectare with respect to the type of crop concerned, the expert also advised.
He said farmers should also study the direction of water run-off on their farms and make ridges to avoid erosion and waterlogging which negatively affect the growth and yield of the crops.
Onah said farmers should get their fertilizers ready, in good quality and quantity ahead of time to avoid applying it late; and in low dose too.
An experienced farmer, Vitalis Tarnongo, told our reporter that farmers who want to succeed should carry out all their required activities at the right time as specified for various crops by experts.
“The time to plant maize is different from the time to plant rice, soya beans, yam, tomato or other crops, and the time to plant in the south is different from the time to plant in the north, farmers must know this,” he pointed out.
The multiple crop farmer advised farmers to weed their farms as recommended and properly apply appropriate pesticides to avoid poisoning, among others.
He said farmers should then monitor their crops and harvest at the right time using appropriate methods to avoid losses.
Tarnongo urged farmers to always learn from experienced colleagues and consult experts if they didn’t know what to do and when to do it on their farms.