I have four acres of land where I have planted some coffee trees halfway, the rest is idle. I work in the city and intend to plant eucalyptus trees. Is it advisable? James
It is recommended to have trees around coffee bushes to provide shade and mitigate against excessive temperatures and heat stress, which are responsible for flower and fruit abortion and also some tend to be beneficial to the coffee as they give nitrogen.
When considering the kind of tree to plant, it should be one that does not compete with the coffee for nutrients and for other resources as this will lower the productivity of the coffee plants.
Also consider the type of rooting system of the trees. They should also not be planted close to the coffee bushes.
Once you have the trees established and mature, the leaves fall and rot and provide organic matter.
The organic matter improves the soil texture and water retention and hence help in retention of moisture in the soil, which is required by the coffee.
Some of the recommended tress are Cordia Africana. Cordia is a leguminous tree whose leaves make for good mulch.
Moringa Oloifera, which is a medicinal tree, with lots of health benefits, has calcium and potassium properties.
Gravellia Robusta should be planted a bit far from the coffee due to its roots. Whistling pine can also be planted at the borders.
NFA recommends that eucalyptus should not be planted in riparian or marshy areas, wetlands and near a water body.
The trees should not be planted near buildings or on road reserves as the branches and stems of some species easily break off.
It is good to plant eucalyptus in areas that have been degraded by soil erosion, marginal lands, waterlogged areas (to drain the area) and areas with saline soils.
The trees also act as windbreakers on large farms. Avoid growing eucalyptus trees in areas with low rainfall as they will compete with other crops for water and also produce toxic substances (allelopathy) which will hinder the growth of other crops.
I am a goat farmer and would like to get some tips for fattening them for meat. Kenneth
With the assistance of a feed nutritionist, you can formulate rations that meet the different requirements of goats at various stages of life.
The composition of such feeds is greatly determined by the age of the goats, the growth rate you wish to achieve, the available feed resources, and the cost of the feed ingredients.
To achieve better results, it is advisable you establish sufficient fodder for the goats.
This will help in reducing the overall cost of production as it forms the main part of the goats’ feeds. In addition to this, the goats should be supplemented with a nutritious concentrate fattening feed ration and mineral salt to meet the nutrition demands of the goats.
The concentrates should be balanced for energy, protein, vitamins and mineral requirements for the goats.
I am farming watermelons which are one-month-old now. Is there a substance that is applied to these plants to make the fruits sweet or the sweetness in the melons is just natural? Annet
The sweetness of the watermelon is also influenced greatly by the climate. Hot weather tends to contribute to the sweetness of the crop because watermelon is a warm season crop and also requires plenty of sunlight. For sweetening, you need foliar application of micronutrients, especially boron, once the fruit has set.
Two weeks before the fruit is ripe, stop watering because the less water it gets the better as this will increase the sugar content and sugar concentration in the fruit, making it sweeter. When you start picking the watermelons, only pick the ripe ones because they don’t continue to ripen after picking.
What chemical would you recommend for killing pests and micro-organisms in the soil before planting water melon? Peter
First of all, micro-organisms in the soil tend to be beneficial as most of them help in soil decomposition and aeration.
They may include bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, protozoa and nematodes.
I will focus on nematodes as some tend not to be beneficial to the plants; basically they are microscopic worms that live around or inside the plant.
Some nematodes are predators while others are beneficial, eating pathogenic nematodes and secreting nutrients to the plant.
For elimination of the nematodes, you can drench nematicide in the soil. There are other methods that include solarisation, which involves covering moist soil with a polythene paper for around eight weeks.
For the pests, most appear or rather occur after crop establishment, or if there are weeds in the farm before crop establishment.
To control the pests, after the crop is established/after germination, you need to monitor or scout after the melon.
During the early stages, you need to check out for cut worms and control them.