Mulching is a practice in agriculture where farmers cover the soil with plant materials to protect the soil. Farmers cover the soil with organic material and this protects their soils from extreme winds or drought. The mulch serves as home for insects that improve soil texture and fertility. Mulching also protects the soil from erosion, extreme temperatures, and sunrays gradually releasing nutrients to plants.
Mulching is mostly done in alley cropping demonstration farms. Alley cropping is a technique of agroforestry where trees are planted in double rows in the farm where other food crops are planted. Here, the distance from one tree to the other is 30cm while the distance from one row to the other is 5m. When these trees reach the height of 1m or 1.5m, they are pruned at 50cm and the leaves are used to mulch the soil.
Acacia, Calliandra and Leucaena are species best used in alley cropping because they are nitrogen fixing. They are therefore referred to as the soil health improvement trees. When these leaves are mulched into the soil, the nitrogen contents in the leaves are slowly release to the soil, thus improving the fertility of the soil. This form of mulching also protects the soil from erosion, sunrays, and wind. It provides a habitat for species of insects and microorganisms that will eventually improve on some physical properties of the soil such as texture and structure.
For the past 8 years, the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) through the Department of Agroforestry and Agricultural Development, has been able to reach and sensitiseBare root nursery establishment in Mile 15 over 4,080 farmers in the Northwest, Southwest, West and Littoral Regions of Cameroon with our Agroforestry activities. Of the 4,080 reached, over 3000 farmers have successfully implemented the project given a 74% success. Today, these farmers have been expressing their gratitude through different testimonies.
Mr. Douanla Pierre is a renowned farmer in Balafotio, West Region. For four years, the farmer has embraced agroforestry system in his farms. According to him, ever since he has been mulching the soils with agroforestry nitrogenous trees, production in his beans farmhas moved from 2 buckets to 12 buckets.
Mrs. Ayoung Jannet is another agroforestry farmer in Kugwe, Northwest Region. She testified that “mulching my plantain and grafted pears has made them healthier and doubled in production.”
Mr. Ambang of Maumu, Southwest Cameroon, for the past 7 years has multiplied the production of beans and maize, all thanks to mulching,
“I have moved from 4 bags of maize to 10 bags and from 3 baskets of tomatoes to 9 baskets as I have been using agroforestry nitrogenous trees to mulch my soil” Ambang of Maumu testified.
The importance of Mulching in the improvement of agricultural yield, cannot be over emphasised. Mulching is arguably the hidden panacea in witnessing a significant growth in agricultural production, but most especially, growth in household income. Farmers are therby ecouraged to mulch their soils with nitrogen fixing agroforestry trees for a significant growth in their agricultural production.