By Albert Makendenge
If you ask a seasoned farmer, they will tell you there are no shortcuts in farming. This starts at the end of the season when the farmer is planning for the next year. Each farmer must performs the following major steps from soil preparation to harvesting in order the increase his chances of having a bumper harvest at the end of the season.
- Ploughing is the initial cultivation of the soil which is primarily meant to turn over the upper layer of the soil and thus bringing fresh nutrients to the surface. Plowing and cultivation using a plough helps to remove weeds and also helps the soil to mix well with fertilizers.
- Levelling the field is the process that comes after plowing and turning the soil, an activity which usually leaves big lumps of soil in the field. Crushing these big lumps using wooden or iron planks leads to more efficient irrigation, improved crop establishment, reduction of weeds and even crop stand and establishment.
- Fertilizer application then comes in just before planting to ensure the supply of plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants. Broadcasting or banding are some of the most common methods of application.
- After preparing the soil and feeding it now comes the stage of seed selection and sowing. Good quality seeds are essential to grow a healthy and strong crop. Healthy seeds can be bought from trusted sources or farmers can produce their own.
- Once the seed or crop is in the ground, it now requires water and various other elements or conditions to kick start and sustain the growth and development process. Where rainfall falls short, irrigation becomes very important to ensure moisture availability as and when it is needed.
- At any time during the growth and development of the crop, some unwanted plants will also grow and usually rapidly so, in the field. An integrated weed management system that combines chemical, biological, cultural and mechanical weed control is always best to deal with these weeds that pose serious threat to crops through competition for sunlight, water and nutrients.
- Harvesting then comes in as the final stage in agriculture and it refers to the process of gathering mature crops from the fields. The harvest marks the end of a growing season or the growing cycle for a particular crop.
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