One of the best ways of guaranteeing food security in any nation is to ensure the availability of food all year round. However, local farmers in the country often complain about the unpredictability of rain as the reason for poor crop yield and food shortages. This piece is a dry season farming guide designed to help the farmer plan.
This is often common during the dry season when the average rainfall is below 60mm. This limited rain coupled with the lack of available water sources leads to exorbitant prices of many farm products during the dry season.
As the country’s population continues to grow exponentially, it is important this increase in food demand is matched with adequate supply. One major way of meeting this demand is by dry season farming.
Dry season farming has been used to cultivate numerous crops especially vegetables. Generally, dry season farming improves food availability and ensures better pricing all year long.
One major advantage of dry season farming is that it helps to reduce the country’s reliance on importation as a way of ensuring food security. Also, dry season farmers can contribute significantly to the country’s GDP as well.
Dry Season Farming: Steps
In dry season farming, a robust irrigation method is what ensures a successful farming system. As a result of the irrigation technology, the dry season farming can be capital intensive.
This is why it is necessary to carry out a feasibility study that details the expected returns on your investment. The most important aspect of the study is the crop being cultivated.
The study should be able to show that the crop being cultivated will generate reasonable profit for the farmer.
In dry season farming, the first step is to prepare the land for farming. The method of preparing is slightly different from what is obtained in wet season farming.
The land is prepared by clearing as well as smoothing and grading of the land. After tilling the soil, nutrients/manure/fertilizer can be added to the water coming from the irrigation source.
Dry Season Farming: A well prepared land
Usually, the irrigation facilities are constructed in the form of canals, drip, dams, water reservoirs etc.
Then, the water can then be run across ridges. The water supply can also be run on crop or tree rows. Generally, the correct irrigation schedule and technique is essential for optimal crop yield.
Irrigation practices in dry season farming can affect the microbiological processes in the soil. It can also affect the nitrogen content of the soil through the process of nitrification.
Ideally, the proper irrigation practice should improve growth and crop yield.
Dry season farming can help improve the quality of the land being used. The process helps to regulate the temperature of the soil. Additionally, the irrigation of the farms helps to improve the water condition of the soil. It also helps to dissolve the nutrients in the soil and makes them available to the plant.
The water content of the plant fiber as well as the turgidity of the plant can also be improved by dry season farming.
The most popular methods of irrigation are drip irrigation and rain gun irrigation . The drip system is good for most vegetables. On the other hand, crops like rice and millet thrive well with the rain gun irrigation.
Generally, the rain gun system doesn’t require labour and time. Also, it saves water and it doesn’t lead to water logging and salinization. This promotes germination of seeds and increases crop yield.
On the other hand, drip irrigation which is also known as trickle is based on the application of water through point sources. Fertilizers can also be applied through this method of irrigation.
However, drip irrigation has some advantages and drawbacks. One disadvantage of this system is when nitrogenous fertilizers are applied.
This addition of nitrogen could lead to an uneven distribution of the ammonium ions in the soil causing nitrification and creating uneven distribution of nutrients in the soil.
However, the problem can be solved through nitrogen fertigation alongside the drip irrigation which helps to improve nutrient distribution in the soil.
In dry season farming, planting should be done in the evening. Also, the right plant distance and spacing should be followed. This is essential to prevent competition among the crops.
After planting, the plants should be watered daily or as required. As stated earlier the system of irrigation can either be drip irrigation or rain gun system.
One of the major drawbacks of dry season farming is that it is capital intensive and may require external financing like government and international NGO support to be successful especially when the crop is cultivated at a large scale.
This is as a result of the cost of the irrigation facilities. Additionally, salinization and water logging of the soil can occur during dry season farming.
Overall, when starting the process of dry season farming, it is important you contact a professional prior to installing your irrigation system.
This is because an improperly installed irrigation system can lead to uneven distribution of water and fertilizer over the land area adversely affecting your yield.
Finally, there are other inputs that are key to the success of any agri-venture like seeds, fertilizers, manure etc. Getting the right ones add value to the process.
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