Monthly Archives: August 2015
Below is a report about recent sampling and analysis of the soil at the Kileva Farm and surrounding area which was carried out by Joannah, Emmanuel (also from the Elephants and Bees team) and a visiting Agronomist called Gary Hamdorf.
In order to help local farmers improve the health/quality of the soil, and therefore increase their crop yields, soil samples were to be taken in the cultivated land in and around the Kileva Eastfield school, and in the surrounding uncultivated forested areas. The soil was then to be analysed to determine the organic matter contained within it, and then recommendations were to be given to increase the organic content.
Sampling and Analysis
Samples were taken as planned and analysis of them showed that unlike in forested “non-cultivated” areas where the soil contains organic material, the sandy / loamy sand top soil in our chosen “cultivated” area for the Kileva Farm is only about 4 inches deep with no organic matter in it at all. Furthermore the cultivated area soil was found to be of poorer structure, which means it’s more compacted and often has a hard pan below it through which plant roots cannot easily penetrate.
Adding Organic Matter
Based on this information and knowledge of the crops typically grown in the area, meetings between Gary, Joannah and Emanuel were held with local farmers to discuss the benefits of organic matter, and widening of crop rotations to improve crop yields in these sandy soils.
How to increase organic matter by not burning crop & weed residues, and by adding animal manure as compost was also discussed, pointing out that this would improve yields, increase conservation of moisture in the soil, and reduce the effect of the hard pan.
Use of Native Plants
The use of native plant species along borders of fields and in drainage channels was also discussed as a way of reducing wind/water erosion, and providing a reservoir of native predatory insects to allow for more natural control of pests in existing crops.
The importance of these areas for attracting bees as pollinators to crops such as cow peas, pigeon peas, beans, tomatoes, melons, etc, was emphasised as vitally important for both successful yields and the beehive fences.
To help with the transmission of this information throughout the community a simple booklet will be put together outlining the critical points discussed in the meetings with the local farmers.