Wednesday January 8 2014

FARMER’S DIARY :What to consider in preparing the land

By Michael J. Ssali

When most people obtain land for cultivation, they tend to worry more about such issues as rain and the natural fertility of the soil. But at that stage, the most important thing to think about should be preparing the piece of land for the kind of crops they want to produce.

Whether we have sufficient rain or not and whether the soil is naturally fertile or not, the land should be prepared in such a way that it can facilitate planting, germination and, ultimately, growth of crops.

The crops have to be well suited to the ground, where we want to plant them before we begin worrying about anything else.
The size of the soil clods, its depth, and looseness matter so much.

We should worry about the machines or tools to use to break up large soil clods into smaller ones. We must kill and remove the weeds and shrubs or any crop residues from the previous seasons.

Well prepared
Time and money may also be spent on cutting down trees and uprooting stumps. The soil should permit infiltration of the rain into the ground.
If it is too loose, it may be easily blown or washed away by wind and runoff water in a process known as soil erosion. A reasonably coarse ground is likely to be more protected against soil erosion.

If you want to grow such crops as millet, groundnuts or beans, you will need a well prepared piece of land.
Timely planting soon after land preparation will delay the growth of weeds, which naturally compete with the crops for soil nutrients.

In the case of some crops such as coffee or plantain (matooke), it is mainly a question of digging the right size of holes within the correct spacing and filling them with the surface soil and perhaps mixing it with some manure.

It may not matter so much if the rest of the ground is not deeply ploughed unless some intercropping is to be considered. Certain crops such as sweet potatoes and yams require the preparation of heaps of soil in the garden and the farmer must be prepared to devote more time and money to land preparation.