What is the latest news from bioRe® Tanzania?
At the moment most of the farmers are in crop management in the field and harvesting early sown cotton. Harvesting will be critical in June, when cotton purchasing begins. The cotton quality in the field looks good and it is the task of staff to provide education so that cotton is not contaminated during harvesting and storage.
Why is soil health so important and how is it being threatened?
Soil is the basic component of living organisms on the earth. Soil must be cared for and kept safe to make it sustainable for the future of living organisms. Different activities have been the source of soil destruction, making it unsuitable for living organisms. Farming practices like deforestation and the burning of trees and grasses due to land clearing for field preparation have contributed hugely to the loss of healthy soil in our areas. Practices like charcoal making also contribute greatly to the degradation of soil health.
What is bioRe® Tanzania doing to improve soil health?
To combat this, farmers in our area, especially organic farmers, have been trained in different practices that grow and maintain good soil health. These practices include:
- Avoiding deforestation practices.
Farmers are informed they should not cut down trees around their farm areas. In case of field preparation, land clearing should not involve cutting down all of the trees in the field. Instead, some trees should be left growing in the field together with the crops. This also provides shade for the farmers to rest in when they get tired while working in the field.
- Tree Planting projects.
The company has been able to distributes trees to farmers to grow around their homes and fields. Farmers have also been trained that trees are good sources of organic matter in the soil and good sources of rain. So keeping trees around results in increased organic matter in the field, attracts rain and reduces the CO2 effect around the area and world in general.
- Prevention of soil erosion measures.
Slopes in the surrounding area encourage the speedy flow of water from high land to low land, accelerating soil erosion. The farmers have been trained both in how to prevent soil erosion, and in controls once this has happened. This includes ploughing against slopes, planting trees and important grasses, making contours and building crib structures in eroded parts.
- Minimum Tillage
Minimum tillage is one of the practices applied by bioRe farmers. It tends to improve fertility of the soil and prevents soil erosion in the field. The practice is in place for some bioRe farmers who were sent to receive special training, which is now in progress. This creates awareness and understanding amongst farmers on how to maintain sustainability and productivity on their land.
- Crop rotation
This practice is beneficial in breaking the life cycle of pests in the area and improving the fertility of the soil. bioRe farmers mainly do crop rotation of three crops, namely cereal, cotton and legumes.
- Farm yard manure application
Soil nutrients may decline in the soil due for various reasons, like cultivating the same land every season, growing the same crop year after year and poor cultivating practices that may lead into soil erosion. To address this, farmers have been educated on the practice of applying decomposed farm yard manure during sowing time. This helps to restore nutrients in the soil and keep the soil healthy.
- Intercropping with leguminous plants
This practice helps to improve fertility of the soil. In our case, cotton is normally intercropped with mung beans (Leguminous crop). Here, the nitrogen fixing bacteria plays a big role in fixing nitrogen in the soil, thus improving the health of the soil for plant performance.