Anybody who plans to go into crop production should consider acquiring land with high soil fertility that contains sufficient plant nutrients and has the potential to keep enough water for the crops. Good soil fertility is important, as it is the main medium which supports plant growth.

It should be conducive to seed germination and root development, for the farmer to achieve high crop yields. The producer should also be prepared to maintain agricultural practices that promote soil fertility.

One way to preserve soil fertility is to continually provide it with organic matter, such as livestock droppings or any rotting plant material like grass and leaves. This is the reason that before planting such crops as coffee or bananas, farmers are advised to mix top soil with organic manure before putting it into planting holes.

If sufficient water is available, such crops grow with much vigour and the yields are high. Another way to keep the soil fertile is to keep it well covered with grass or leaves, in a process known as mulching.

This practice protects the soil from the direct rays of the sun and it increases its capacity to retain moisture. Secondly, the mulch protects the soil from erosion by wind and rain. With time, the grass or leaves decompose and become compost, making the soil more fertile.

A few trees planted in and around the garden protect the soil against wind erosion. Their roots hold the soil and guard it against soil erosion. The farmer whose garden is on a slope should dig trenches across the garden to trap run-off rainwater.

Continuously planting the same annual crop on the same piece of land from season to season, without applying any fertiliser, renders the soil infertile. It is always good to give back to the soil what it produces, by allowing some of the crop residues to decompose there.

Rather than burning organic matter such as weeds and any crop residues, the farmer should either feed them to domestic animals or use them as mulch. Frequent fires also kill soil-replenishing organisms. – Monitor

 

 

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