She is confident that her yield will continue to increase as she keeps on practicing good soil management practices like minimum tillage, and permanent soil cover among others. She also gets additional income through the sale of MUCUNA seeds to her neighbours who have since been attracted to her way of farming.
For many years Christine Musungu farmer in Kakamega County has been doing conventional farming. She didn’t know the relevance of soil cover. All along she has been leaving her farm bare by burning the crop residues to make it ‘clean’. A practice that not only contributed to carbon emissions but also aggravated soil degradation and reduced soil productivity.
It is after attending a training organized by the FtMA project that she became aware of the importance of soil cover. She was sensitized on the need to retain previous crop residue on the farm. Soil cover increases the soil's water retention capacity; increases soil organic matter (humus); reduces soil erosion; creates a good micro-climate for soil-acting organisms that aerate the soil for the next crop and also increases soil microbial activities among other benefits. These benefits combined contribute to the increased productivity of the land.
Christine opted to intercrop her maize with MUCUNA (an excellent cover crop for maize) with exceptional ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen and produce sufficient biomass to cover the soil. She reckons that the cost of weed control drastically reduced since she only did first weeding and the farm did not require second weeding which was the norm. She also attests that her maize crop exhibited higher growth vigour as compared to earlier seasons. Mucuna is a deep-rooted plant that extracts nutrients at different soil horizons with the main crop hence has less competition and improves soil properties.
Her harvest increased from 12 bags of 90kgs to 18 bags per acre. She is confident that her yield will continue to increase as she keeps on practicing good soil management practices like minimum tillage, and permanent soil cover among others. She also gets additional income through the sale of MUCUNA seeds to her neighbours who have since been attracted to her way of farming. One kilogram of MUCUNA is sold at KSh 300/-
After the harvest, she was advised to carry out soil testing to confirm the progress of her soil. A soil analysis report indicated that key aspects of her soil are within the recommended levels albeit with some room for improvement.
Christine has a lot to be proud of PAFID-FtMA since she is also among the farmers shortlisted to benefit from the BOOMITRA carbon credit project. She promises to put more effort in the coming seasons to continuously improve the soil health of her farm. She also promises to continue sensitizing other farmers to adopt practices that improve soil health for better yields and food security while safeguarding the environment.