Feedback: A-Z of fertiliser, pesticide use on tomato crop

Friday August 30 2019
tomatoes img

Bathlomew Rotich Kandagor, a farmer at Tugen Estate in Moiben, Uasin Gishu County tends to healthy tomato crops in one of his greenhouses in this past photo. In the crop's cultivation, fungicides are applied in case of blight, which is a common disease in tomato especially during the cold or rainy season. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP



I need a tomato-growing programme for both foliar fertilisers and fungicides and pesticides and the recommended time of application.

Richard, Nandi

Fertilisers: Apply farmyard manure at 20 tonnes/ha before transplanting, 200kg/ha DSP (10g/plant) at planting, then top-dress with 100kg CAN/ha applied in two splits.

First split when plants are 20-25cm and second 3-5 weeks later. Excess N application results in excessive vegetative growth at the expense of fruit production.

Foliar sprays are done during vegetative growth and flowering/fruiting.
Fungicides are applied in case of blight, which is a common disease in tomato especially during the cold or rainy season.


Late blight (Phytophthora infestans): This fungal disease is the most destructive in tomatoes and potatoes. Symptoms: Irregular greenish black water-soaked spots on leaves, which enlarge with time. Appearance of white mycelia growth on lower side of leaves.

Development of small greyish green water-soaked areas, which enlarge to cover half of the fruit. Severe defoliation and rooting of fruits.

Control: Copper-based fungicides, use of clean seeds and media and ensure good aeration in the canopy.

Early blight (Alternaria solani): This fungal disease is also quite common. Symptoms: Canker and collar rot on stems of seedlings and young plants in the field.

Development of spots on the leaves that may partly defoliate the plants and greatly reduce yields and fruit quality. The spots first form on older leaves and enlarge to a diameter of 0.6-1.25cm.

Stems develop dark slightly sunken areas that enlarge and become circular or elongated with light centres. Fruit abortion may occur.

On older fruits, dark leathery sunken spots develop at the point of attachment to the stem. Control: Copper fungicides, seed treatment and rotation.

Pesticides are applied only when the pests are noted but before they reach the economic injury level.

American bollworm: Feeds on leaves and also bores into the fruits, reducing quality or resulting in fruit abortion. Control: Insecticides e.g. Malathione, Dimethoate, Ambush.

Mites and whiteflies: They suck sap mostly from underside of the leaves and also transmit viruses. Controlled by insecticides.

Tuta absoluta: Use of tutasan traps

Carol Mutua,
Department of Crops, Horticulture, and Soils, Egerton University.



I am Francis from Makueni County and I have 16 ancient traditional log hives, four in Makueni and 12 in Kitui County. What does one need to become a commercial beekeeper?

Where can we get or be supplied with free advice and get common equipment, modern bee hives, bee suits and smoker.

Francis Kilonzi Mutio, Nairobi

Kenya has a potential of 100 metric tonnes of honey per year, but we are producing 20-25 metric tonnes. This is partly because of the ancient traditional log hives that result in less honey per hive and difficulties in handling and processing.

For us to export, we must comply with the international requirements. To move from bee havers to modern beekeepers, we must sort out a few things including but not limited to modern bee hives, solve the bee hive occupancy problem, update ourselves on hive equipment and inspection, better understand bee environment and nutrition.

Egerton University’s Centre of Excellence in Livestock Innovation and Business (COELIB) has developed a tailor-made course called Commercial Beekeeping Master Class

1. Luckily in your case, the course runs from September 5-7, 2019.

Participants will be exposed to the theories and practices of the trade;

(I). Importance of honey bee to the economy, food security, environment and biodiversity.
(ii). Honey bee biology and behaviour
(iii). Commercial beekeeping enterprise
(iii). Queen bee technology.
This programme targets current and potential commercial beekeepers, extension Officers, NGOs and policymakers.

For further details e-mail [email protected] or call 0707280239.

Dennis Kigiri,
Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.


Answer Two:

Besides pollinating crops, bees offer honey, wax, propolis, royal jelly and bee venom, among other products. In this value chain, you can venture into actual beekeeping or even value addition, hence having requisite knowledge is important.

To begin with, you can read the comprehensive article ‘A must-have starters’ guide to beekeeping’ available on Seeds of Gold website, which breaks down siting of hives, setting a colony and bee equipment starter pack.

There are also companies that hold occasional trainings and supply bee tools and equipment namely The Hive and Honey Care Africa.

Felix Akatch Opinya,
Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.



I am interested in farming the Dasheen arrowroot variety. How can I get the seedlings and advise on how to grow them?

Erick Gatimu

You need to prepare the land well and remove all weeds. Dig holes which are one-and-a-half feet in diameter, a depth of one foot and a spacing of 20-30cm.

Place the suckers inside moist holes and cover with a thin layer of soil. After two weeks, add manure mixed with inorganic fertiliser.

Keep the field weed-free throughout the growing period. Remember arrowroots require moist soils. The arrowroots take six months to mature. Dasheen variety has large whitish tubers and wide leaves.

For quality seedlings, please contact Madam Hannah on 0723 684523.

Carol Mutua,
Department of Crops, Horticulture, and Soils, Egerton University.



My cow’s milk is becoming acidic. How can I correct this problem because it is affecting my earnings? Is it the feeds or water or is the cow sick?


Milk flavour is an important parameter in determining its acceptability. Naturally, good quality milk is free from off-flavours and has a slightly sweet taste, leaving a smooth, rich feel in the mouth.

Sometimes certain conditions such as mastitis and advanced lactation can cause salty taste in cow milk. Mastitis results from bacterial infections in the udder, usually caused by low hygiene and poor milking practices, which are within the farmer’s control.

As a response, follow the treatment guide in case of mastitis, keep high standard of hygiene, disinfect the sheds and try to eliminate other possible contaminants.

On the other hand, late lactation is the phase where cows are dried, therefore, pay attention not to over-milk, practise modest drying and feed the animal the right diet.

Form a habit of sampling milk from all four quarters of the cows in late lactation to detect off-flavours/salty taste.

Without looking into the science related to pH of milk, rectify the possible obvious causes but if the problem persists, consult a veterinary or animal production/nutritionist officer for on-site troubleshooting.

Other off-flavour tastes in milk are also largely due to nutrition regime or management practices on the farm.

Felix Akatch Opinya,
Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.



I have some 15 acres in Naivasha and I'd like to grow finger chilli. I, therefore, need help in finding market for the produce.

I am in the process of acquiring finance for the project with a goal of starting cultivation as early as January 2020 and the prospect of first harvest is around June.

James Mwaura

Chillies have a good market both locally and internationally. If you don’t get market, you can harvest the chillies, dry them and then sell later.

ou can try looking for market at ‘marikiti’, hotels, institutions or companies that make chilli powder or chilli sauce. M-Farm Limited can also connect you to a buyer or exporter. Kindly contact them on 0732622555 or [email protected]

Carol Mutua
Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University.



I am looking for Moringa olifera seeds. Kindly advise on a good source.

Kaige Kibe, Africa Energy Consultant

You can try Kenya Forestry Seed Centre. Contact them on [email protected] or 0723500176. You can also try Meshack on 0722 369552.

Carol Mutua,
Department of Crops, Horticulture, and Soils, Egerton University.



I have noticed a weird behaviour with my rabbits as they eat their young ones. It has occurred twice with different does. Please advise whether this is normal and how should I curb this problem.


Parturition in rabbits usually occurs at night and the doe should not be disturbed either by noise or frightened by other animals as this instils fear.

This can cause her to eat or abandon her litter. Sometimes lack of or shortage of water before kindling and birth of deformed young ones that may not survive can trigger the doe to dispose of them by eating them.

Nonetheless, a doe with such repeated behaviour with subsequent litters should be culled so that it does not pass the trait to future generations.

Ochiel Alvine,
Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.



I am a bamboo farmer in Solai, Nakuru. I am looking for a place to sell my mature bamboo. Kindly assist.

Depending on your location, you can sell your bamboo to Bidco Africa (0722278777 or 0733655777), who use the grass in their factories in Ruiru and Thika.

Bamboo products can also be sold in supermarkets, market places and to construction companies. You can also choose to create products from bamboo, for example art works or furniture, that fetch good prices.

Jayo Manyasi Tracyline,
Department of Crops, Horticulture, and Soils, Egerton University.



Thank you for the article on dragon fruits. I am growing some in Ukambani and they are doing very well that I got my first fruits this year.

I am now planting more hoping to hit 500 trees by end of this year. Kindly link me with the writer, Faith Ndungi.

Waweru Murimi

Thank you for showing interest in dragon fruit farming. Our country can produce its own supplies if more farmers are encouraged to grow the crop.

For those who need the seedlings, please contact Dr Matu from Nanyuki on 0722229364. You can send me an email at [email protected] for more information.

Faith Ndungi,
Department of Human Nutrition, Egerton University



I have been planting pomegranates for a while but the results are not pleasing. Please advise on the best way forward and how to improve their growth since the fruits crack.

Anthony Warui

Pomegranates do well in altitudes of 1,800m above sea level. Hot and dry climate is good during fruit development for faster growth and high yields.

The optimum temperature during fruit development is 36-38°C. Pomegranates can do well in a wide range of soils as long as they are well-drained, deep and rich in organic matter.

Lack of moisture in the soil leads to fruit cracking, therefore, it is advisable to give the plants water at least once a week during the dry season.

The plant is rarely affected by pests and diseases but pruning should be done. Do not allow the fruits to ripen on the trees as this will lead to cracking, which occurs because they contain a lot of sugars and this makes them to pick a lot of water.

Carol Mutua,
Department of Crops, Horticulture, and Soils, Egerton University.



I am in Nanyuki and I want to start strawberry farming. What are the best climatic conditions for strawberry farming and is there a good market?


Strawberries do well in hot climates and cannot tolerate extremely low temperatures. The soil should be well-drained with a pH of 5.5-6.5.

Keep the field weed-free throughout the entire growing season. The crop also requires about 6-10 hours of direct sunlight in a day.

You cannot lack market for strawberry locally or internationally. You can sell in food processing firms for jams, flavours, or juices, supermarkets, hotels or even export.

Carol Mutua,
Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University.



I'm looking for a consultant to help me draft a business plan for either fruit or livestock farming in Mbui Nzau, near Kibwezi. I will appreciate any assistance.

Steve Murua, Nairobi

Please send me an email on [email protected] for details on what you need. We will be glad if you can organise yourself with a group of friends or family for us to run a training on Professional Business Plan Development.

Dickson Otieno
Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Agriculture and Agribusiness Management, Egerton University.



I would like to partner with egg incubator manufacturers/makers in Kenya and help grow the industry. Please advise me since I have learnt that all controllers in the market are imported.

Daniel Kihiu

There are many companies and individuals trading in incubators in Kenya. In the event you want to partner with manufacturers, check for them online, get contacts and reach out.

Don’t get tired of trying, something will come up. I wish you the very best.

Dennis Kigiri,
Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.



I have interest in starting a biogas project at home. Please share information on how to go about it

Biogas production is an excellent way of using animal waste to generate energy for cooking and lighting and use the slurry to grow your vegetables.

The main components of the biogas system are the digester where fermentation takes places and the gas holder.

Sources of fermentation substrate can be your farm or neighbouring ones and cost of establishment depending on the system’s capacity.

The department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University is willing and able to offer technical support.

Dennis Kigiri,
Department of animal sciences, Egerton University.



Where can we get refresher courses or training on modern bee keeping?


Your question is timely because the university is preparing a three-day workshop on commercial bee keeping in September.

Contact [email protected] for more information on preparations and planning.

Dennis Kigiri,
Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.