TYPES OF FERTILISERS
What types of fertilisers are there in the market and what is their difference in usage, either in chemical composition or stage of planting?
There are different types of fertilisers depending on the chemical composition in terms of the nutrient elements they contain.
Most of the fertilisers contain the major plant nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
These elements are required by the plant at various stages of growth. For example, phosphorus is needed during early plant root development.
So you need to apply a fertiliser containing phosphorous such as DAP, TSP or NPK during planting.
Also, nitrogen is needed for vegetative plant growth and so should be applied as a top dresser and CAN and urea are examples of fertilisers that supply nitrogen.
Crops, Horticulture and Soil Science Department,
I WANT TO GROW PASSION FRUITS
I am Elijah Bett from Chepalungu in Bomet County. I want to start passion fruit farming and I wish to know the following.
i) Types of passion fruits which are good and marketable.
For your environment, if temperatures don’t fall below 13 degrees Celsius at night, both the yellow and purple fruit types are feasible. However, I would recommend that you get grafted seedlings of the purple on yellow rootstocks.
ii) Where can I get certified seedlings and at what price?
Three new passion fruit varieties; Kenya Passion Fruit 4 (KPF 4), KPF 11 and KPF 12 have been developed by KALRO. You should contact the horticulture institute in Thika for more information and planting materials. A vegetatively propagated seedling of the new varieties costs Sh30 but farmers could also request for a gram of seeds at Sh60.
iii) Type of soil that the plants require.
The purple passion fruit is most suited to upper midland and highlands (1,100 to 2,500m above sea level). It has superior fruits of 4 to 5cm in diameter with an aromatic flavour.
Yellow passion is most suited to the coastal lowlands. It is more vigorous and has a larger fruit of 5 to 7cm. It is more acidic and used for juice extraction.
Yellow passion fruit is resistant to Fusarium wilt, tolerant to Phytophthora blight, nematodes and brown spot. It is used as rootstock to purple passion fruit.
Passion fruits grow on many soil types but do best in light to heavy sandy loams with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. Excellent drainage is necessary. Also, the soil should be rich in organic matter and low in salts. If the soil is too acid, lime must be applied. Since the vines are shallow-rooted, they need a thick layer of organic mulch.
Prof Mulwa, horticulture scientist, Egerton University
BEST COW BREEDS
I am planning to start a small dairy farm as I have acquired a quarter acre in Aldai, Nandi South. Please advise on the best cow breed for high milk production and the best bull to sire it.
Choice of dairy cow breed is guided by several factors, key among them environmental parameters (rainfall and temperature), availability of feed resources, degree of dairy production and market preference in terms of breeding stock and milk composition.
Considering that Nandi is a high-potential area coupled with the fact that the Kenyan market lays little significance to the proportion of butterfat and milk solids, it would be more profitable to keep either Ayrshire or Friesian breeds.
This is because under proper management, the two breeds can give relatively high yields of milk. Nevertheless, the total lactation milk yield of an Ayrshire is slightly lower albeit with a lower feed consumption in comparison to a Friesian.
Whichever breed you choose, it would be wise to use semen from a bull of the same dairy breed for convenience during registration.
Kimitei Ronald Kipkogei,
Department of Animal Sciences,
I NEED ADVICE ON BEEKEEPING
I started farming by visiting a certain beekeeping “expert”, who also makes beehives.
In the beginning, I did not see this as a conflict of interest but later l noted that the only thing he needed was to encourage one to buy hives (Sh4,500 each), but when it comes to management and other issues related to good farming practices, he was a skewed adviser.
I have about 50 hives, in a very well forested area but I think I need more advice from an expert on the viability of such a business in Mai Mahiu, near Naivasha.
All beekeepers should know plants and trees used by bees when foraging and the time they flower to better manage their hives for increased harvest.
However, traditional hives with a fixed comb make management very difficult whereas top bar hives make management easier as does the Langstroth frame hives.
Recommended management practices include swarm prevention and control, colony division, supplementary feeding (only when necessary) and pest/disease control.
Swarming occurs when a bee colony divides to reproduce and if it happens when bees are increasing in numbers during nectar flow (when there is an abundance of flowers around), less honey will be harvested.
This is as a result of reduced bee population at a time when bees are required to collect nectar to make honey.
With regular hive inspection (every seven to 10 days), swarming can be avoided by ensuring that the queen has enough room to lay eggs by making extra space (exchanging empty combs with those filled with honey) around the brooding nest.
In addition, swarm queen cells (long thumb-shaped cells protruding from the edge of combs) can be destroyed to prevent emergence of a new queen, essential during swarming.
Colony division is done when the hive is fully filled or when one needs to populate new/empty hives by transferring a comb with a queen cell plus a brood comb and two feeds (honey and pollen) combs into a catcher box or new hive.
Supplementary feeding, though really not necessary in most parts of the country, can be provided in form of sugar syrup.
This is done for purposes of stimulating the queen bee to lay eggs and build up the colony numbers prior to honey flow (six to eight weeks before the date of flowering).
Supplementation is also done during times of drought or an excessively wet and cold period to prevent bee migration and keep bees alive.
Appropriate apiary location and hive installation/suspension will help in controlling hive pests such as wax moths, ants, wasps, honey badgers, termites and beetles. Maai Mahiu is ideal for apiculture and it can be a very profitable venture.
Kimitei Ronald Kipkogei,
Department of Animal Sciences,
WHAT IT TAKES TO REAP FROM CHICKENS
First, where is Agriculture Finance Corporation in Homa Bay or Kisumu counties? I need funding.
I am planning to keep 500 layers for a start. How many kilos of feeds (chick mash, growers mash and layers mash) do I need before the birds can support themselves from the sale of eggs?
Agriculture Finance Corporation is located at Reinsurance Plaza, Oginga Odinga Road, Kisumu. As for the birds, chick mash is fed between 0 to eight weeks, growers mash between eight to 20 weeks (introduce gradually on the eighth week) and layers mash 20 weeks onwards (introduce gradually on the 20th week).
After six months into egg production, the returns from eggs should be able to buy feeds. However, prior to this, you will require the following amount of feeds for 500 layers: chick mash — 1,150kg, growers mash — 3,800kg and layers mash — 8,500kg. I have made assumptions on several factors such as mortalities, proper management, egg laying percentage and persistency and market price.
These factors should be considered when doing your cost-benefit analysis.
Department of Animal Sciences,
YES, THERE IS MARKET FOR GOAT MILK
I am interested in dairy goat farming but I am not sure if there is market for the milk.
Dairy goat farming can be a rewarding enterprise for farmers with small parcels of land because of low demand for feeds compared with cattle.
The common breeds of dairy goats are Toggenburg, Saanen and German Alpine, which can survive in different climatic conditions.
Currently, goat milk goes for between Sh80 and Sh100 per litre. Please contact the local livestock production experts on the most suitable breeds or cross-breeding programme in your area
Research Assistant, Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University
I am a small-scale farmer in Kitengela, Kajiado. I have tried onion farming more than twice but because of drought, I could not get a good harvest. Please advise on what I should do.
Water management is crucial for successful onion growing. You have to have enough irrigation water or schedule your planting so that you make the best use of the long rains.
But as the rain patterns become more and more erratic, purely rain-fed agriculture becomes more and more difficult.
You need to improve your soil’s water retention capacity by raising organic matter levels in it. That can best be done by regular compost additions and mulching. Mulching also prevents water evaporation to a certain extend.
Country Manager, SoilsCare
WHY YOU SHOULD DO A MARKED VENTURE
I am planning to venture into vegetable farming. How do I do market research?
What you need to know is what kind of vegetables have demand in your target market.
Once you know this, the next step is to look for a suitable variety that you can grow successfully and the different characteristics that are desirable to your target market.
This could be sukuma wiki, cabbages, traditional vegetables (like saga, terere and kunde), or onions and tomatoes.
You also need to know the cost of production of the enterprise so that you can to make a profit. Please give us more information on your location, county and your available resources like water and capital, among others.
Muriuki Ruth Wangari
Department of Crops,
Horticulture and Soils,
I liked the article on the mango farmer Margaret Nyaguthie from Sagana. I need her contact.
EDITOR: Please talk to Margaret through our reporter on 0724945952.
I would really appreciate if you can get me Keith’s contact so I can follow up on keeping stingless bees.
I liked the story on the stingless bees. I would like to have Keith’s contacts so that I can buy beehives.
EDITOR: Keith is available on 0706834306.
I need the contacts of poultry farmer Odongo from Siaya featured on September 20, last year.
EDITOR: Odongo is available on 0727665108.
I liked the article on coloured fish farming and I would like to request for contacts of the farmer because I need to buy fish from him.
EDITOR: Talk to Francis Kirima on 0722626951.
I liked the story on William from Navakholo in Kakamega who is growing palm trees. I am interested in growing the trees; share his contact.
EDITOR: Kindly contact William Simiyu on 0704827806.
You once featured an article on chia seeds farming and I can’t trace that in my archive. Kindly share the dates you featured.
EDITOR: We had expert advice on chia on July 26 and August 30, last year.
THE STORIES WE NEED FEATURED
We are ever grateful for this magazine and the useful information in agribusiness that you share. Kindly also include in future editions articles on:
1. A-Z of watermelon farming, from best seeds and pesticides to control of cutworms and wasps and to best markets.
2. Farming of bamboo shoots.
3. Keeping of bulls for the meat industry.
4. Availability of agricultural extension officer’s and other experts such as agronomists at county and sub-county levels.
EDITOR: Thank you for your support and keep reading. We have shared your ideas with experts and writers.
Please connect me with Tabitha Miwawi who plants vegetables on her rooftop in Mombasa. I need her advice.
I am Susan from Mombasa and I would like to grow vegetables like sukuma wiki and spinach on the rooftop of our house. Kindly provide me the contacts of Tabitha Mwiwawi.
EDITOR: Reach Tabitha Mwiwawi through on 0725702090.
I AM NOW A FARMER
Thank you for the informative articles. On January 31, I made an enquiry on contract farming which was aptly addressed by Lilian Jeptanui of Egerton University.
I followed the advice and I have contacted all the professionals at KALRO, where I have had soil tested and bought certified seeds. From information gathered, I came up with a business plan and decided to do the following crops on my 7.5 acres.
1. Rhodes grass
3. Pawpaw (Solo sunrise variety)
4. Moringa oleifera
In the future, I also plan to keep dorper sheep and chickens and engage in value addition.
EDITOR: You are an inspiration to us. Thank you for your support and keep reading.
I need contacts of Ann, a silkworm expert, Emily who keeps silkworms and Nathan Kahiga from Ruiru who grows mulberry.
EDITOR: Please reach Ann Igecha, the silkworm expert on 0722565091.
I would like to have the contact of Livingstone Waithaka who was featured October 24 last year so that I can buy a solar incubator from him.
EDITOR: Talk to Waithaka on 0722766728.
ASK THE EXPERTS
Do you have any question or enquiry on agribusiness, marketing, logistics, processing, innovation, and technology?
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