Dry season farming, if well planned and implemented, would allow for all-year round farming and is capable of solving the nation poverty and food insufficiency. In spite of recent technological and scientific advancement, weather is still the most important variable in agricultural production. Daily, seasonal or annual variations in the values of the climatic elements such as water are of greater importance in determining the efficiency of crop growth. All living things on the earth depend on water and the earth is the only confirmed planet where water is present in liquid form, falling as precipitation and flowing through the landscape.
Water in all its forms plays a vital role in the growth of plants and the production of all crops. It provides the medium by which chemicals and nutrients are carried through the plant and above all, the main constituent of the physiological plant tissue and a reagent in photosynthesis. However, soil moisture is the source of water which is of importance to crop and the state of moisture is controlled by rainfall, the evaporation rate and soil characteristics.
As the country’s population continues to grow exponentially, it is important this increase in food demand is matched with adequate supply. One major way of meeting this demand is by dry season farming. Currently, there are over 400,000 farmers from 19 states of the country involved in this practice however, the unwavering increase in importation of food products shows that there’s still a need for an increased number of dry season farmers. Dry season farming has been used to cultivate crops like cotton, rice, tomatoes, vegetables and maize. This type of farming improves food availability and ensures better pricing all year long. In recent times, the government has significantly increased its participation in such agricultural practices by increasing its investment in dry season farming.
The Following Will Guide You Starting a Dry Season Farm
In dry season farming, a robust irrigation method is what ensures a successful farming system. As a result of the irrigation technology, the dry season farming can be 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.
In dry season farming, the first step is to prepare the land for farming. The method of preparing 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.
This is the science of planning and designing a water supply system, usually man made, for agricultural land to produce crops where there is virtually little or no precipitation, and to protect the crops from bad effect of drought or low rainfall.
Dry season farming can help improve the quality of the land being used. The process helps to regulate the temperature of the soil. Additionally, the irrigation of the farms helps to improve the water condition of the soil. It also helps to dissolve the nutrients in the soil and makes them available to the plant. The water content of the plant fiber as well as the turgidity of the plant can also be improved by dry season farming.
The most popular methods of irrigation are drip irrigation and rain gun irrigation. 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.
Generally, the rain gun system doesn’t require labour and time. 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.
However, drip irrigation has some advantages and drawbacks. One disadvantage of this system is when nitrogenous fertilizers are applied. This addition of nitrogen could lead to an uneven distribution of the ammonium ions in the soil causing nitrification and creating uneven distribution of nutrients in the soil. However, the problem can be solved through nitrogen fertigation alongside the drip irrigation which helps to improve nutrient distribution in the soil.
In dry season farming, planting should be done early in the morning or in the evening. Also, the right plant distance and spacing should be followed. This is essential to prevent competition among the crops. After planting, the plants should be watered daily or as required. As stated earlier the system of irrigation can either be drip irrigation or rain gun system.
One of the major drawbacks of dry season farming is that it is capital intensive and may require government support to be successful especially when the crop is cultivated at a large scale. This is as a result of the cost of the irrigation facilities. Additionally, salinization and water logging of the soil can occur during dry season farming. It is now important that farmers and farm investors start providing irrigation for their crop farm so that they produce all year round.
Overall, when starting the process of dry season farming, it is important you contact a professional prior to installing your irrigation system. This is because an improperly installed irrigation system can lead to uneven distribution of water and fertilizer over the land area adversely affecting your yield.