Dry season is approaching, farmers should be educated on the importance of taking the opportunity and the best approach.
Danlami Zakariya, Lafiagi, Kwara State
In Nigeria, after 4-6 months of rainfall, we get to the dry months when soil water depletes. This is the time wet season farmers drop their farm implements for other trades to continue providing for their families.
But this is the time when smart farmers make their money, because only those using effective irrigation will have their crops available during this period.
Asides, the best ways of guaranteeing food security in any nation is to ensure the availability of food all year round, which the dry season farming permits.
However, the first step you need to follow is planning because dry season farming requires irrigation facilities, which are capital intensive. This is why it is necessary to carry out a feasibility study that details the expected returns on your investment. The most important aspect of the study is the crop being cultivated. The study should be able to show that the crop being cultivated will generate reasonable profit for the farmer.
The next step is land preparation, which involves clearing of the area you are to use for the farming.
Experts believe that the method of preparing for dry season farming is slightly different from what is obtained in wet season farming. The land is prepared by clearing as well as smoothing and grading of the land. After tilling the soil, fertilizer can be added to the water coming from the irrigation source.
The next stage is to look for your source of water usually through irrigation. In most cases, the irrigation facilities are constructed in the form of canals, dams or water reservoirs. Then, the water can be run across ridges. The water supply can also be run on crop or tree rows. Correct irrigation schedule and technique is essential for optimal crop yield. Using the right irrigation schedule that is tailored to the type of crop being cultivated is very important.
Experts recommend drip irrigation and rain gun irrigation as the most useful irrigation system for dry season.
The drip system is good for tomatoes and vegetables. On the other hand, crops like rice and millet thrive well with the rain gun irrigation, which doesn’t require labour and time. Also, it saves water and it doesn’t lead to water logging and salinization. This promotes germination of seeds and increases crop yield.
On the other hand, drip irrigation which is also known as trickle is based on the application of water through point sources. Fertilizers can also be applied through this method of irrigation.
Abubakar Lima is a Minna-based retired agriculturist