1. Make conservation agriculture part of your farming operation-maintain drainage contours, plant across the slope and keep residues on the field. Reduce tillage where possible because ploughing and discing destroys valuable soil fertility, organic matter and soil structure, and increases erosion and water loss.
2. Establish crop field areas that you can manage with your resources-don’t over-extend yourself with a larger area that you can manage well. Concentrate your efforts and resources on right-sized fields to achieve the best results per dollar spent combined with highest profit per unit land area grown.
3. Manage your crops with high standards and in a timely manner:
- Use certified seed of appropriate Mukushi Seeds varieties.
- Apply lime, manure and fertilizers according to your resources, soil fertility and yield target.
- Apply basal fertiliser (like compound D) into the planting holes before sowing seed, or in a band 5 cm below and 5 cm to the side of the seed if planting by machine. Be sure the seed is not in direct contact with the fertiliser.
- Plant with the first soaking rains that thoroughly wet the soil to a depth of at least 45 cm. Sow the seed into a well-prepared planting zone to establish good stands, and keep fields clean of weeds especially in the first four weeks after emergence. Plant maize seed 5 cm deep, and ensure that there is good seed-soil contact.
- Apply Ammonium Nitrate (AN) or Urea top dressing to the maize at the 6-leaf stage. On sandy soils or with lots of rain, it may be best to split the Nitrogen top dressing into two applications, half at the 6-leaf stage and the other half at the 9-leaf stage. The amount of Nitrogen Fertiliser to apply to maize depends on your yield goal, seasonal conditions and soil fertility.
- Scout your fields frequently for pests and diseases and apply corrective measures as soon as possible, observing safety procedures and recommended chemical application rates.
4. Observe and learn from your fields and other farmers; apply your knowledge so that you continually improve your fields and crops.
5. Attend Mukushi Seeds field days and training sessions and consult with Agritex to find out how to manage your crops in the best way and improve your productivity.
6. Keep records of what you do in your fields – like dates of planting, how much fertilizer you applied, when you weeded the crops, the daily rainfall, how much you harvested and what you spent and earned from your crop. This helps for future planning.
7. Harvest your fields as soon as they are mature, dry the crop quickly and store your grain safely and protected from pest (weevil) damage and theft.
8. Keep your fields clean of weeds through the winter. Conserve manure and crop residues for the next season. Repair your roads, fences, contours and gullies. Enjoy farming – it’s a noble profession!