Produce More, Reap Longer With Organic Manure’

20 March 2015
Produce More, Reap Longer With Organic Manure’

Posted in News, Views 1272
Produce More, Reap Longer With Organic Manure’

Soil has been the base of world agriculture from the beginning of recorded history.

In a lifetime, man has to deal with the soil in one way or another. We can then thank soil for the cheap and plentiful food on our tables grown with the help of farm tools and equipment. But over the ages, man’s ever-increasing population has become hungrier for soil to not only grow his food, but construct and mine minerals. This hungry quest has led to the shrinking of arable land and increased use of artificial fertilisers to try and raise levels of crop yields with devastating impacts on the health of the soil.

For decades, most farmers have relied on artificial fertilisers, insecticides and herbicides that often kill soil organisms, and pollute streams and ground water. While artificial fertiliser producers tout instant higher yields with the use of inorganic fertiliser, environmentally minded agriculturalists encourage the use of organic fertilisers.

“Organic fertiliser is best for farming, it has unquestionable benefits,” says Germain Elame, Buea Sub-Divisional Delegate of Agriculture.

Organic farming is the kind of farming that allows a farmer to earn a living growing crops on healthy land for a long time while conserving the soil and discouraging insect pests and plant diseases.

“It allows farmers to grow food crops, vegetables, fruits, tree crops, flowers and raise animals, snails, fish and produce honey naturally without using synthetic chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides, growth hormones and antibiotics,” says Mbah Joseph, head of Friends of Nature CIG and expert producer of Bokashi, an organic fertilizer.

Making Bokashi

Privileged to study rural leadership and organic farming, Mbah learnt how to produce Bokashi which is the main fertilizer used by Japanese farmers.

“I came back with that knowledge to help my people,” says Mbah.

Bokashi is made by mixing organic materials like oil cakes, rice bran, chicken droppings, fishmeal, bone powder with clay soil or subsoil from the forest. Other materials like wood charcoal and ashes, fermented plant juice, extracts of useful organic substances are added to the mixture.

Benefits of using organic fertiliser:

1. Commonly available and anybody can afford to produce it from raw materials like kitchen waste, manure from piggery, poultry etc, which are normally thrown away

2. Cheap to make and produce

3. Conserves soil fertility

4. Protects soil micro-organisms and other soil organisms; creates good environment for soil microbes and organisms like earthworms that are useful for soil fertility

5. Increases water retention capacity of the soil even during drought

6. Improvers on structure/texture of soil and creates air spaces favourable for plant growth

7. Gives crops longer life span; roots won’t be attacked by diseases

8. Guarantees higher crop yields in a long period of time

Advantages to the environment:

1. Useful insects like bees for plant pollination are protected

2. Trees and forests are not destroyed

3. Guarantees balance of the eco-system; plants, animals and insects all live in harmony

Advantages to health

1. Prevents harm to humans, reduces health problems caused by synthetic fertilisers like lung destruction, nervous system breakdown, cancer infections, difficulty in breathing, deformed births, skin infections, damaged eyesight amongst others.

2. Little or no chemical residues in food vegetables and fruits; meat and fish are safe for consumption because you do not use growth hormones

3. Little or no pollution of ground water

Long-term advantages

1. Soils remain fertile for continuous crop production on the same piece of land

2. All micro-organisms responsible for decomposition of organic debris; earthworms that make the soil porous for aeration and easy root penetration and water percolation remain intact or unharmed

3. Crop yields and life span are prolonged for longer harvesting, hence sustained income

4. Low cost of production

Disadvantages of using inorganic/artificial fertiliser:

1. Depletes the soil of nutrients essential for plant growth

2. Short-lived instant yields

3. Dangerous to crops, the environment, water and man

4. Expensive

By Azore Opio

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