Thursday, 19 July 2012

Plant nutrition guidelines

A healthy plant is essential to sustain productivity. Plant health is dependent on the nutritional status of the soil. A constant supply of water is required to move nutrients and support growth. Nutrition should be closely monitored  with regular soil and leaf analysis. Key steps in plant nutrition and irrigation include regular soil sampling, correct fertilizer use and timely irrigation practices. Sampling requires the use of a trowel and putting the soil in a plastic bag. Pick the soil from different points in the farm using a W or Zigzag pattern. Sample at the right time i.e. not immediately after fertilizer and manure application, or when the ground is too dry or too wet.

Sample at the right depth and submit the soil sample for analysis immediately. The results will indicate the required nutrition interventions on your farm. The required crop nutrients are classified into macro and micronutrients meaning required in large and small quantities respectively. The macronutrients required by crops are:-
·        Phosphorus(P) is required at sowing or transplanting
·        Nitrogen(N)is required for growth and development
·        Potassium(K) is essential for flowering and fruiting
Micronutrients required by crop include zinc, iron, calcium, manganese and magnesium.
All these elements can be supplied from a combination of manure or manure and inorganic fertilizer. Add manure or compost to your farm regularly for good crop nutrition.

Composted material that combines plant and animal waste is better as it provides more nutrients to the crop. To make compost, collect vegetable and animal waste or manure and arrange in layers, alternating chopped woody material and fresh material and keep the material moist. Turn the layers regularly in order to aerate the compost heap and achieve even composting forcomposition takes some weeks and can be quickened by adding microorganisms such as EM and or trichoderma. Compost can be improved by use of earthworms which is called vermicomposting.inorganic fertilizers supplement Compost and manures.Improper use of fertilizers will lead to nutrient deficiency or toxicity causing reduction of yields and environmental pollution. Remember Plant nutrients supply and health is dependent on the nutritional status of the soil.(read  plant extracts special TOF Nr. 17 September 2006).