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Precision Farming

My main goal in farming this year is go into precision farming where everything is meticulously done. Where spacing isn’t assumed but measured to precision. The game plan is to define how to grow everything on a 1m2 then replicated into the entire field . The objective is to increase the production per M2 which will automatically lower the cost of production per kg . The 2nd objective is to lower the production cost to below any realistic market price so that profit would be realized at any market price or at worst break even .

I have realized that the produce price isn’t under my control and therefore it’s not worth messing up my creative mind with this issue.

I have also realized that business exists where there is a good customer and buyer relationship. What do I mean by this?

Imagine two kiosk operators with kiosk next to a factory that pays it’s workers at the end of the month only. One kiosk owner decides to stock the necessary items from 1st to 1st of the month and the other one decides that he would be stocking only at the end of the month. Between the two traders , who is likely to succeed in his business? Your guess is as good as mine .
Being in business is having the sale items throughout the month or the year.
Imagine a farmer who wants to go into milk business and therefore decides to buy one in-calf heifer. Once the heifer calves, he looks for 3 customers to be selling his milk to. The farmer enjoys good cash flow for 308 or so days then the cow dries off and as a result the farmer loses two things, the income and his customers.
At the 2nd calving, the farmer would have to look for new customers who may not be readily available. This kind of unreliability denies this farmer two most important aspects in a business i.e the cash flow and the customer/seller relationship.
This farmer can solve his problem by buying one or two more cows and ensure that serving is timed in such a manner that calving won’t coincide for any two cows .

This solution would address two challenges i.e
1. consistency and
2. customer / seller relationship.

To succeed in farming business, the farmer must address the two challenges. The other elephant in the room is the price .

In order to defeat the price, the solution is to focus on precision farming whose benefits have been stated above .
How do I expect to achieve my goals? What do I need to focus on?
I am going to focus more and more on land preparation which will be done as if it’s the last operation on earth. To use measured quantities of well decomposed manure mixed with measured quantities of basal fertilizer e.g DAP , TSP, or Mavuno. Mix the 3 ingredients i.e Soil, Manure and Fertilizer to homogeneity.
This is very very important.
Why ?
Most fertilizers are hygroscopic i.e they absorb water from the surrounding/ atmosphere. If a granule of DAP comes into contact with the sensitive radical during the germination process and the soil happens to be dry, it would absorb the water from the radical hence scorching it which would result to no germination. High concentration of fertilizers in one patch may raise the EC (Electrical Conductivity) to detrimental levels which would result in scorching of the radical.
When a seed is planted and irrigation takes place, the seed imbibes enough water and the germination process starts. The seed is supposed to remain in a moist condition e.g at field capacity until full germination is realized. If by any chance, the soil moisture drops beyond the field capacity or to a level lower than the water held within the seed, the seed loses water through osmosis to its surroundings which stops the germination process. This seed therefore rots and whitish mould forms around it .
Let me explain this further. A stored seeding at the right conditions i.e cool dry place, can’t germinate because it’s moisture content is normally at 13% or below. Once it’s planted and irrigated, it imbibes the water to its full capacity which through enzymes reaction triggers germination process. If water is then withdrawn or reduced, the seed rots. This is similar to food which is left in the open for some days, whitish woolly like mould would develop on it and these are the same mould that you find in a seed which was given water and then deprived at some point before germination process is completed.
I hope this clear now .

Manure

The manure we use is normally stored in the open where full action of the sun and rains are at play. Such manure has low nutrients amounts per kg due to loses through Nitrogen volatilization and leaching as well as K leaching . If one was to use manure alone, without fertilizers, and with an intention of optimizing production, large quantities of manure would be required per acre which would not be commercially viable. It’s therefore advisable to use both manure and fertilizers because they have different but synergistic role in plant growth and production.

Manure use is key in that, it enhances water retention capacity of a given soil. It also increases air circulation or aeration in the soil as well as regulating the soil temperatures . These three parameters are very very important for healthy plant growth and contributes to higher yields. It’s important to note that these important manure roles which happens at the root zone ! I must stress this point because, if one applies manure on the surface , these benefits would be missed and this explains why manure must be mixed properly with the soil. Any manure found on the surface is therefore a wasted resource.

Manure as explained above helps in improving the soil structure. It would be very expensive for example to change the structure of a soil in one acre of land through application of manure due to the large quantities which would be required. It’s therefore advisable to try and influence the soil structure at the root zone and this is why planting hole or bed application is better than spreading on the entire field.

Planting 
Planting is a very important process in a farm. It’s important to understand or define your plant spacing on a paper and calculate the plant population per m2 and per the entire bed length .
1st measure the width and the length of the planting area.
2. Divide the width by the inter row spacing on paper and find out the number of rows to be achieved .
3. Divide the length by the intra row spacing in order to get the number of plants per row .
4. Mark on the ground the row spacing and ensure that the number of rows on the ground is equal to what was worked out on the paper.
5. Mark the intra row spacing in order to equal to the number of plant stations calculated on paper.
6. Once satisfied that this is done, go ahead and dig the holes .
7. Apply a known quantity of manure and fertilizers in each hole
8. Mix thoroughly to homogeneity.
9. Plant the seeds at the right depth normally two to three times the seed diameter.
10. Irrigate asap and maintain the soil at field capacity until full germination is realized .
11. For all the transplanting seedlings, plant extra seeds in the nursery in order to ensure that whatever seedling that fails to take is gaped .
12. Ensure that the crops are kept weeds free .
13.You may stress the crop a bit or run with a slightly lower moisture deficit up to the 5th week of growth then start stepping up the moisture to field capacity throughout the flowering and picking periods .
14. Practice timely pest and diseases control .
15. Support the crop properly if support is needed .

I need to point out that in farming, there are many unforeseen issues which would still knock a farmer to his knees even when things are meticulously done e.g sudden change in weather, high pest population and disease incidences which might be difficult to control etc. The point which I want to drive home is that farmers should strive to do their best and let God or nature play it’s part . We cannot afford to run on autopilot or continue failing in our part and engage in complaining over drive forever.

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