What causes drop in egg production and how to water melons

Friday March 20 2015

Consider supplementing your birds with kienyeji mash.

Kenya Commercial Bank Foundation manager Rachel Gathoni (left) in Grace Musyoki and Patrick Mutinda bean’s farm in the dry Makueni County. The farmers use sand dams built by the foundation to grow the crops. PHOTO | CORRESPONDENT | NATION MEDIA GROUP


  • In free-range system, your birds are able to satisfy their protein requirements by feeding on worms while their energy is not fully met.
  • Consider supplementing your birds with kienyeji mash.



I have 100 chickens of the improved kienyeji breed mixed with indigenous ones under free-range system. I want to know what causes severe drop in egg production.


In free-range system, your birds are able to satisfy their protein requirements by feeding on worms while their energy is not fully met.

The deficit on daily energy requirement is likely to affect egg production as much of the energy is directed towards maintenance and activity, and less of it towards production.

Therefore, consider supplementing your birds with kienyeji mash as it is high in energy content or consider energy sources such as maize bran or wheat bran.

Sophie Miyumo,

Animal Sciences Department, Egerton University.


I’m starting a watermelon farm in Konza on one acre. I have no irrigation system but I’m hoping to do it manually.

My concern is when and how often should I water them in a week?


Water requirements

Generally, watermelons require adequate water and a warm environment to grow to a good size and be sweet.

Water requirements varies with soil type and irrigation practices.

The root system can be deep up to a depth of 1.5 to 2m. The active root zone where most of the water is abstracted is limited to the first 1 to 1.5m depth.

Under moderate evapo-transpiration, the crop can deplete the available soil water up to 40 or 50 per cent before plant is affected.

Irrigation scheduling

Where evaporation is high and rainfall is low, frequent irrigation with an interval from 7 to 10 days may be necessary.

Irrigation under dry conditions must be scheduled at the start of the growing period (pre-irrigation), during the late vegetative period (vine development), the flowering period and the yield formation phase.

In these periods, soil water depletion must not exceed 50 per cent. During the ripening period, relatively dry soils are preferred to increase sugar content and to avoid the flesh becoming more fibrous and less juicy.

Under moderate evaporation and deep soil with some rain during the growing season, one heavy irrigation may be sufficient to bring the crop to maturity.

Irrigation methods

The most common method is furrow. Under conditions where crop water requirements are high and the soils are light textured, drip irrigation has been successfully applied with a reduction in overall water demands.

The crop has been grown successfully under spate or flood irrigation on basins with one application of 250 to 350mm and little or no rainfall and with farmers’ yields of about 12 tonne per hectare with a maximum of 20 tonne per hectare.

Yield of watermelon is dependent on water application.

Peter Caleb,

Horticulture Scientist,

Department of Crops Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University.


My name is Clement and I come from Kirinyaga County, Ndia division. I would like to grow beans during this long rain season.

I would like you to advise me on how to go about this beginning with certified seeds, application of fertilisers, weeding, harvesting, and post-harvesting, among others.

Our soil appears to be a bit black though it has not been agriculturally tested to ascertain its mineral components.

Kindly advise me as this is my first time to grow beans using the agricultural method as I normally grow them through the traditional methods.


It is good you know the importance of soil testing and analysis for you to make informed choices when applying fertilisers and amending your soils.

It is, therefore, advisable you do soil analysis first, which costs between Sh500 and Sh1,000 per sample depending on labs and what element you are analysing.

Bean farming is profitable since in only three months, you would have planted and harvested.

For good yields, grow certified seeds available in the market as pure stand for varieties like Rose Coco, Canadian Wonder, Chelalang, Tasha, Ciankui, KK8, KK15 and Wairimu depending on your area.

You require between 25 to 30kg of certified seeds for an acre planting in a spacing of 40 by 10cm, with 50kg of DAP fertiliser which has 46 per cent phosphorous or two bags of N.P.K (23:23:0) depending on recommendations after soil analysis.

After planting, maintain the crop weed, pest and disease free. Weeds can be controlled from the third week using herbicides like ‘Bean Clean Super’ available in the market.

For pests like white flies, aphids and bean flies, spray systemic insecticides like Actara as soon as you notice them. Prevent and control diseases with recommended fungicides like Ridomil.

With proper agronomic practices, one can get seven to 10 90kg bags from an acre depending on the variety grown. After harvest, thresh, clean, sort and store your beans under good conditions before marketing to avoid any post-harvest losses.

Lilian Jeptanui

Crops, Horticulture and Soils Department, Egerton University


I want to start passion fruit farming and I wish to know the following.

(i) Types of passion fruits which are good and marketable.

(ii) Where I can get certified seedlings and at what price?

(iii) Type of soil that they require.

Elijah Bett

Bomet County

i) Purple passion fruit is the most marketable but it is more susceptible to diseases. You need to go for grafted passion fruits which are more expensive but have roots resistant to soil-borne diseases. For such varieties, a rootstock is normally yellow passion and purple becomes the top for marketing.

ii) Certified seedlings are found in many Kenya Agricultural, Livestock and Research Organisation outlets like those in Thika, Kitale and Perkerra, or Horticultural Development Authority offices near to you.


Some individual farmers or organisations have also established nurseries for grafted passion fruits. Please contact the nearest extension officers of the Ministry of Agriculture or Egerton University experts to assist you to get reputable registered nursery stocks.

(iii) Passion fruits grow on a wide variety of soils, which should be reasonably deep and fertile.

A soil pH of 5.5 to 6.5 is best. In high rainfall areas like Uasin Gishu, Nakuru, Trans Nzoia and Bomet, the soils should be well-drained as plants will not withstand water logging or flooding for any considerable period.

However, the most important challenge in passion fruit production is the Fusarium wilt which occur in old orchards that have been in the field for more than two to three years.

Peter Caleb,

Horticulture Scientist,

Department of Crops Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University


Josphat Sirma’s story was inspiring. Please give me his contact.

Hudson Kesenwa

EDITOR: Please talk to Sirma on


I am interested in kiwi seedlings, please advise how I can contact Joyce Thuo of Naivasha.


I would like to get in touch with the lady growing kiwi fruits or any other organisation engaging in the trade.


I need the contacts of farmer Joyce Thuo who grows kiwi seedlings in Naivasha so that I can get more information from her.


EDITOR: Talk to Joyce Thuo on 0770707952.


Please advise on how I can get all the copies of Seeds of Gold magazine since inception.

Abraham Kimani

EDITOR: Please speak to Nation Media Group library on 0719038459.


My name is Joram. I was impressed by Larry Keya’s story on making popsicles from cucumber and melons. I need his contacts.

EDITOR: You can reach Larry Keya on 0718423635.


I am Alex Gikonyo from Limuru. I am requesting you publish a story on broiler farming or give links to information about the trade, including the best company to buy from, their feeding ratios and how to manage them.

EDITOR: Thank you for the support and keep reading. Watch out for the information in our subsequent issues.


Kindly give me the contact of Mary Gichuki who grows fodder shrubs in Kiambu


EDITOR: You can reach Mary on 0722694802


My wife and I are interested in pursuing charcoal farming after reading your article of February 28.

We have a farm in Kwa Vonza, Kitui County and I don’t know if it’s possible for you to assist us in some information, for instance, how do we go about securing statutory licences and from whom, county and or national government?

What trees are good for Kitui and are there other fast maturing indigenous species we can consider?

Kioko Ngangi

EDITOR: Kindly contact the writer on


I am interested in apiculture; could you please connect me to an expert in the field or better yet send me contacts of someone with experience in beekeeping.

EDITOR: Talk to Justus Kiema on 0722443312.


Kindly assist me with the contact of Martin Gathogo who keeps Boran cows featured on February 7.

EDITOR: Please talk to Gathogo through our reporter on 0721898931.


Please connect me with the person who sells grain silos for storing maize in Nakuru.


EDITOR: Please talk to Muraya of Nakuru Catholic Diocese for further direction on 0722914860.


Do you have any question or enquiry on agribusiness, marketing, logistics, processing, innovation, and technology?

Our pool of experts from Egerton University will respond to your questions with proper advice.

Please send your questions to: Read us online at of gold

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