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Soil scientist advises farmers on best practices during dry season

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Prof. Lateef Taiwo, a Soil Scientist at the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Ibadan, has advised farmers to engage in proper land preparation and selection of good planting materials in order to obtain maximum yield during harvest.

Taiwo, who gave the advice in an interview with Nigeria News Agency , on Thursday in Ibadan, said land preparations, especially for cassava cultivation, should be carried out before the rains set in.

According to him, in cassava cultivation, it is important to till the land to loosen up the soil, improve soil drainage and make it easy for roots to develop.

The soil scientist added that the level of tillage required for the cassava and other crop fields mainly depends on the soil type and drainage at the selected site.

He said that in places with shallow soils or poorly-drained clayey soils, moulds or ridges should be made where crops would be planted so as to encourage better root development and good yield.

“For zero tillage in land preparation, it is advised that farmers slash and gather all the farm wastes; do control burning; and if conventional tillage is going to be adopted, the wastes should be ploughed-in to increase the soil organic matter.

“Soil organic matter is an essential component responsible for enriching the soil with macro and micro nutrients as well as humic, fulvic and humins that are essential in improving the physical, chemical and biological components of the soil.

“Soil organic matter also plays important role in soil water retention; in dry season, some water can still be found in the soil in the form of gravitational, capillary, osmotic or hygroscopic water.

“The water forms are essential in running the activities of soil micro-organisms. Moreover, this period of dryness can be used by farmers to prepare composts; they are also advised to make early purchase of farm inputs.

“This is very important, especially for maize that requires large amount of inorganic fertilizers. When poor soil is chosen, other inputs, such as herbicides, rodenticides and pesticides, should be purchased before rain starts,” he said.

Taiwo further said that planting cassava, maize and vegetables at the beginning of rainy season could ensure healthy sprouting and good plant establishment, while advising that appropriate planting site should be selected.

He urged governments at all levels to provide farmers with appropriate agricultural inputs at subsidised rates to reduce the burden on them and increase agricultural productivity in the country.

Edited By: Celine-Damilola Oyewole and ‘Wale Sadeeq

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