Ian Veldsman, Hazyview, South Africa – 27th of January 2016

Our next visit was to meet with Ian Veldsman in Hazyview in the foothills of the Drakensburg mountains

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Ian is a Zimbabwean farmer who seems very dynamic and can put his hand to anything. At the moment he is a Macadamia grower. So the first evening we got to him he organised us a tour around Golden Macadamias.

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Golden Macadamias is the biggest processing factory of Macadamias in the world. It was bought by farmers some years ago and is run as a coop and has kept growing since. At the moment the factory is in shut down as it is the off season

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The harvesting season is from April to November and during that period this plant is running 24/7. It is all about adding value to the Macadamias and getting as much revenue for their shareholders as possible. This means no stone is unturned and it seems to be run with military precision.

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The next morning we had a look around Ian’s farm. We first looked I his shed where is sorts and dries the Macadamias at harvest. They come in at 22% mc and he dries them to 10%.

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Above are his drying bins and underneath he loads up trailers. An eight tonne trailer is worth about £22,000! Ian harvests about 65t per year. Then we saw his new cropping project

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Ian is intercropping ginger with Macadamias. He has tried it before and had trouble with quality of seed. He now hopes to harvest 40-50t per hectare of ginger this year at about £3.90 per kilo. The seed was very expensive to start with. When we got their Ian was very excited to show us his infrastructure project. As power supply here is expensive and intermittent he is now installing a ram pump

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This will allow him to be water independent and was going to cost him only about £3000. A ram pump takes a head of water. For every one meter of head you have you can pump back uphill 10m. Ian has seven metres head. For every 4l of water that rush into the pump, one litre gets pushed uphill. Ian has plenty of water from a canal

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Now he will be able to pump it upto a 550,000l reservoir and it continually irrigate his crops without any power!

After that we visited Ian’s friend Adam Wood

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Adam is also a Macadamia grower. He has 72ha in Hazyview and his brother has 150ha in Tzaneen. Below is Adam’s sprayer for Macs and the view of his farm

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I do not joke but these guys are farming on seriously sloping ground. Glad I am not their sprayer operator. Below is a macadamia nut

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The biggest problem they have with Macadamias is the Stink Bug. This bug is resistant to pyrethroids and so they have to use harsher insecticides to control them. Adam is very aware of the problem and is trying biological control and they are desperately looking for a catch crop. Their best option is chlorpyrphos at 10,000l of water per hectare. Not a sustainable practice.

We had a great time with Ian. He has a diversified operation and he is always looking at new projects. His wife also owns a fast food restaurant in town. Thanks to Ian and his family for looking after us and helping us get into Kruger Park.

 

 

 

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Hendrik Smith, South Africa – Day 2

Below is the reception of the farm office we visited today

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Hendrik today took us to visit Janvos Landgoed on the High Veld near Ermelo.

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Jan is a bit of a man mountain and I would not have wanted to face him on the rugby pitch! He manages his family farm with his father and it is quite an operation. They have 8000ha in total: 3500 cropping of maize and soya; 300 dairy cows; 800 beef cows, 3000 sheep and 15ha of apples.

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Above is maps of all his farms. Each section has their own manager who has their own accounts, which means if one department sells something to another it is charged at the going rate. This was a bit of an issue for the dairy manager as the maize price here has doubled! The idea is to encourage competition between the managers.

The High Veld where they are has a bit of a unique climate for South Africa.

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Due to its altitude it is cooler than most other places. It has about 600mm of annual rainfall mostly in the summer. This climate is good for growing apples and Jan thinks he will increase the area as it shows a lot of potential. It seems to be the expanding crop in this area.

Jan showed us around his enterprises.

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The cropping side has been no till since 2008. Jan went to Brazil that year and bought a local planter there and then. The first year he was 33% no till, second 66% and third he was 100% and has never looked back. About 80% of the farmers in this area are no till. The planter above is Jan’s current planter which is a local make. It has a leading time on it as he grazes all his stubbles hard with animals and this helps relieve the damage.

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He grows 50% maize and 50% soya with a couple of pivots for irrigation. He grows GMO soya and non GMO maize. He gets a premium for non GMO maize. The cropping side also makes the silage for the dairy and charges them!

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Luckily when we there they were shearing the sheep

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The wool is worth good money from these Merinos. They fatten themselves off on grass. He sometimes plants ryegrass in one of his pivots for the sheep to lamb on. He gets 3 crops of lambs in 2 yrs and they lamb at 120%. In the shearing shed we saw the Sheep Guardian

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This keeps the Jackals off 300ha of grazing ground. It works in two ways. It emits a low frequency sounds that scares off the vermin and also it sprays lion’s pee every 15 minutes. I would not want to be the guy collecting the lion pee!

We then looked at the dairy

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They are zero grazed and are housed in this open building

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The cows are yielding at 42l per cow per day. Even at this high output they are not making a profit. The dairy industry is struggling here too.

When we were driving around Jan showed us his dam where he gets his water from. Luckily he has clean water but did have an incident with the local sewage works who were leaking raw sewage into his water. This is something we have heard all around RSA. The sewage works seem to have stopped working and are pumping raw sewage into the water system. Not only does South Africa have a water shortage problem it also has a massive water quality problem with pollution from sewage and from mines. I can’t quite understand why in a developed country they can’t get sewage works working.

Thanks to Jan for showing us around. It was great to see a diversified business on a large scale and how that diversity has lead to resilience and long term profitability. Also thanks to Hendrik for being our guide for 2 days. He is doing a great job here promoting Conservation Agriculture and I think the UK would gain from a similar person.

Hendrik Smith, SA Grain, Pretoria, South Africa, day 1 – 25th of January 2016

Dr Hendrik Smith is someone who I met through Twitter @Healthy_Soils and managed to persuade him to show us around the Pretoria area for 2 days.

Hendrik works for Grain SA as a Conservation Agriculture facilitator. He is trying to increase the amount of farmers using no till and cover crops to improve soils all over South Africa. Our first meeting was in Brits at the office of Elim Groen, which is a fertiliser company. There we met with Willie Pretorius who is an expert on soil health, cover crops and bio-fertilisers. We started and finished to day at Elim Groen talking about their new bio fertilsers

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It is a carbon based fertiliser based on vermicast,Biochar and other ingredients. In independent trials they have had great results. Higher yields with 20% less nitrogen. Need to try to get some to the UK.

After Elim Groen’s Hendrik, Willie, Gordon and I went to the farm of Joseph.

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It is a beautiful place, which is in a bowl surrounded by hills. Joseph has cattle, game reserve and about 450ha of irrigated crops. Joseph is an Executive Director of Grain SA and is the vice chair of a local farmer working group.

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Joseph is sat down with Hendrik to his right and Willie to his left. In the background you can see bales. He has baled up his residue which he will send to the drought hit farmers in South Africa for free. South Africa is in a terrible drought. The maize crop is going to be half of normal. This means RSA needs to import 65 million tonnes of maize this year which is just doesn’t have the infrastructure to do. Some interesting times ahead. Joseph on his farm two weeks ago reached 53 degrees Celsius. He gets about 800 mm of annual rainfall similar to home but he has huge evaporation losses due to the heat so needs to irrigate. The irrigation is causing real problems. The water he is using is being contaminated upstream by raw sewage been pumped into the watercourses. This is happening all over because the government is not enforcing or running the sewage works. This means the water contains chlorine and E. Coli. The irrigation is also causing sodium problems

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They had dug a couple of holes to see the problems. The first one is capping of the surface due to the sodium and they are also finding an impenetrable layer of salt like material about 10″ down. This is causing problems with rooting and water penetration. Hendrik and Willie took some soil samples to try to look into the problem

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Hendrik wants to take soil health information from lots of farms and publish it. Then it gives farmers something to talk about and compare. Joseph has two different soil types, both heavy clay but both were beautiful fertile soils

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The second one is a lot darker and stays cooler. Gus the farm manager is feeding Gordon! They double crop maize and soya beans on this ground. Their biggest pest problem in the crop is baboons

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The baboons will come and take the cobs and cause a lot of damage. Other problems are Leopards. They can’t calve in the Veld so they have to bring them in otherwise the Leopards take the calves. Makes our rabbit and fox issues look wimpy!

After we looked around Joseph’s crops we had a Braai with mutton

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It was nice to get out of the heat of the sun and next to the cooler fire! Only annoying thing was all the flies. It was a great visit with Joseph and interesting to see the issues of farming in RSA. Looking forward to day 2 with Hendrik.

Real IPM, Kenya, 23rd of January 2016 – part 2

Today is our last day in Kenya and we are back with Henry and Louise. During our last visit we did not see the microbe production and packing process so this morning Henry took us around the site.

First we saw the boiler. This heats the green houses with Macadamia nut shells.

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Then we looked at the production of Phytoseiulus. This is a predatory might that is used in various applications in things like Rose production and is Real IPM’s biggest seller. To produce a predatory mite you need to first produce its prey. So the first greenhouse we saw was producing the prey which is red spider mite.

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They produce the prey on beans. Interestingly they plant beans with trichoderma another product of theirs and don’t get soil disease problems with beans after beans. The next green house we went to is where they have the predatory mites. They infect the beans with the prey and once the predators have eaten most of the prey they harvest them. They get about 5 crops a year of Phytoseiulus. They produce about 40 million per week off 8ha of greenhouses

Once harvested they go to quality control

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This where they literally remove all contaminants so it is 100% Phytoseiulus. Below Gordon is checking their work

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Once they have been checked they are cooled down for transport. Different customers want the product in different numbers and packaged. The Kenyan market wants them in the tubes below

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In each each tube is about 1-2000 predators. They reuse the tubes a number of times. They produce 7 different types of predatory mites

We next looked a fungus production. They produce metarhiziums if various types which are fungus that eat the stages of certain insects that are in the soil. This have great potential for the UK if it wasn’t for the EU registration system. They grow the fungi on rice bran

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Once the fungus have eaten all the bran they are processed

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They are sifted and dried

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Then they are formulated and sold in bottles

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ICIPE the research organisation has 300 isolets of Metarhizium which they do not yet all of their functions. Real IPM has a bioprospecting team who are actively looking for new microbes which may be useful.

Another thing they do is testing of other people’s products for the Kenyan authorities . This is why they have a green house of roses to test products efficacy.

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Henry and Louise have been amazing hosts for us. They fed us, housed us for five nights and also gave us contacts to see around Kenya. Without them our visit would have been a lot harder. They are also two really dynamic people with a fascinating business. One I would recommend everyone to come and visit.

Many thanks Henry and Louise

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Stuart Barden, Athi River, Kenya -22nd January 2016

Today Gordon and I split up. Don’t worry we haven’t fallen out but opportunities for seeing chicken for Gordon and large scale arable came up for me which were miles apart so we couldn’t visit both together. While Gordon was in the police station I was been driven down the farm track to Stuart’s farm.

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It’s not often you seen Giraffe on the way to a visit

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I also saw Wildebeest, Gazelle, Zebra, Ostrich and Wart Hog. Unfortunately the cheetahs and lions were hiding. The reason for driving down this track is because Stuart’s farm is at the other end. Stuart Barden is a 2009 Australian Nuffield Scholar who when he was travelling through Kenya on his travels was given some soil maps and was asked “if you could farm here where would it be?” Stuart pointed at the fertile Black Cotton Soil near Athi River.

image Then 3 yrs later was here and breaking new ground in Kenya. A bold decision for anyone. The first two years were particularly tough. Stuart planted grain sorghum and unfortunately it was decimated by Red Weaver Birds. The birds caused one million dollars worth or damage in the first two years. This meant he had to sell the rest of the farm in Australia to keep farming in Kenya and so he had no fall back. As he said it sharpened his mind as it now had to work.

The limiting factor here on this farm is moisture, he only gets 500mm per year. So Stuart’ is no till, CTF and is trying to build up residue cover.

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This field was mung beans last year and will go into wheat next week. This ground three years ago was reserve and now is a 650 ish hectare field. He only has two fields with a rotation of two legumes and then a cereal. As this is virgin ground Nitrogen is not limiting. When planting a cereal be uses only 70-80kgs of total product, which is a blend of MAP, Potassium Sulphate and Tiger 70 with traces. The organic matter is 3.8% and is walks beautifully. Stuart is very aware that he needs to maintain SOM and not mine this ground of it’s natural fertility. He has spent a lot of money on roads, water supply and fencing. The fencing maintenance is an almost full time job to keep the animals out. It is electric and turned on only when he has a crop planted.

Back at the yard Stuart has built the main building himself

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This is probably the biggest tractor I have seen so far in Kenya

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Stuart has 3 full time employees and one apprentice. When we were there they were building bulk hoppers

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Nothing comes in bulk in Kenya. So to speed up filling the drill he is building hoppers which can be loaded ready while the drill is working. The grills are over the top because the seed and inputs can come with contamination e.g. String. The supply of seed is a real problem. Last year he grew barley which had a lot of impurities in it and was going to cost $100,000 in claims at the malsters. So he bought a cleaner for $50,000

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He then cleaned it three times to get it to 99% purity. Now with seed he will plant a small area, then make sure it is clean at harvest and farm save from that area for the next year.

For chickpeas he was using an air reel on his combine which I had never seen before

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Stuart didn’t have any fancy new machinery which was great to see

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After the farm tour we had lunch and discussed some of Stuart’s plans and new ideas. He sees many opportunities even though there are huge challenges. He has a real pioneering “can do ” spirit but also wants to give back to the community. Since being in Kenya he has had over a thousand visitors from all over and Stuart spends the time with them trying to help them on their own farms.

Today was a great visit. Thanks Stuart and good luck!

Caleb Omolo, PRI-Kenya, Rongo – 21st of January 2016

After leaving the guys at Mbita we met up with the team from PRI-Kenya and had dinner in the evening with Alais who is a Massai Warrior. Poor Alais had an evening of question after question where we learnt a lot about the Massai culture. It has a very strong community based around sharing, so strong in fact that you are not allowed to eat by yourself or either wash by yourself. Also poligamy is allowed.

In the morning we met up with Caleb (he is standing next to a coffee plant)

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Caleb is a permaculture trainer and is working on this project in Rongo. The project has been going about 6 months and has another two years to run by which time they hope to have 600 farmers practising permaculture. It is called the Sustainable Village Resources program. They are training farmers to do permaculture around coffee growing. Coffee used to be the main crop around here until sugar cane came to the area. Now the sugar cane industry is exploiting the farmers so they are looking to grow coffee again. Coffee is a plant that likes growing in shade and you get a premium for shaded coffee. This is why it makes a good plant for permaculture. The idea is to market the coffee as a group. The group will take a 10% cut and the farmer will get 90%.

Caleb showed us around his food forest.In this forest he grows coffee, vetiva grass ( good for soil erosion, hat weaving and mulching)image

Also he grows tephonia (good for composting, high in P),Atinacea (anti-malarial), climbing bean, tall sorghum, castor oil tree, bananas, pumpkins, potatoes and the list goes on.

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He also got Gordon and I to plant a coffee plant each

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He companion crops bananas with pumpkins and sweet potatoes and this is called the banana circle.

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He doesn’t grow maize as it is low in nutritional value. Also he says Striga is a sign of degraded soil. Also Caleb has an orphanage on his farm for 12 children. The forest helps him feed the children

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After visiting Calebs farm we went to see a farmer called Joseph.

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Josephs forest has only been in for 6 months. He has planted pigeon pea as it is an N fixer and pumpkins to try to regenerate the soil. Once the soil improves he will chop down the pigeon pea and plant something else. He has been planting coffee and hopes to harvest by August. Also avocado. He grows chilli peppers which he can use as a spray if insects become a problem.

As with most farms we have visited we don’t leave empty handed. Gordon was presented with the biggest Papaya I have ever seen.

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Thanks to everyone at Rongo for their generosity and time.

Dr Zeyaur Khan, Push-pull, Kenya, 20th of January 2016 – part 2

This afternoon after spending the morning at the ICIPE research station in Mbita Point we travelled with some of Dr Khan’s team to Rongo to see a couple of farms that were practising Push-pull. The first farm we went to was to see farmer John

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John has been practising Push-pull for eight year. There are 600 farmers in the area doing so. John is now a farmer trainer and has many visitors to his farm. He had already had 120 visitors before we got there on Wednesday. John grows sorghum, maize and rice and has cows and goats

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This field in the background has sorghum growing in it.

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This field he has harvested the maize. He also harvests the top half of the stover which he grinds for livestock. The first field that he tried Push-pull in before he started he could not grow anything in it due to Striga. In the 2nd year of push-pull he had doubled his yield. Push-pull has allowed him to reduce the area needed to grow crops on which means less labour to get same amount of grain. The push-pull also means no need for crop rotation.

The trees around the outside of the fields are Caliendra which he cuts every year for firewood, leaves for fodder,sells the seeds, great for bees, they are N fixers

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The next field he was multiplying up the Desmodium seed

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The Push-pull has meant that he went from 2 to 16 sacks of maize. He sold 8 and bought a cow. The cow produced 12l per day of milk which he sold the surplus to pay for his children’s school fees. John has 15 children all that have gone through school and 5 so far have been through university.

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John also grows his own vegetables and has built a reservoir and pump to irrigate the vegetables in a dry time

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He now is self sufficient in all but meat. This means his wife does not have to walk all the was to Rongo to buy food and firewood. Quite an incredible change of life in eight years.

The second farm we went to was an orphanage and school which was coordinated by Molly

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Molly calls Push-pull her donor as it has allows her to feed the orphans and sell surplus for cash. There are 62 orphans and 500 school children.

They also grow fish which are fed on the fodder from the push-pull

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There are one thousand fish in there which they sell for cash. After having a look around the farm Gordon and I were taken around the school to every class to meet the children. There was real excitement to see and touch a white man. We felt a little like celebrities for half an hour

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Dickens our ICIPE guide also enjoyed being teacher and MC. Today was a great day and it was amazing to see how something so cheap and basic as intercropping change change farmers and families life. Thanks to all the team at ICIPE.

Dr Zeyaur Khan, ICIPE, Mbita Point, Kenya, 20th January 2016 – Part 1

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After leaving Rusinga we traveled a short distance to ICIPE at Mbita Point. This is where Dr Khan (left in the picture) has been developing the “push-pull “technology for maize growing in this area. The evening we arrived we had dinner with Professor Wadhams and his wife who are here on holiday. Professor Wadhams co-developed push-pull with Dr Khan.

Push-pull is probably the most powerful example of the beneficial effects of intercropping I will see. The problems of growing maize in this area of East Africa is a parasitic weed called Striga

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As shown above the Striga attaches to the root of the maize and sucks all the nutrients. The other problem is stem-borer. It is the larval stage of a moth that bores into the stem of the maize again taking nutrients from the maize

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The push-pull has been developed using Desmodium a legume and Napier grass to trick the moth and the Striga

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There is a lot of information on http://www.push-pull.net The Desmodium tricks the Striga into suicidal germination and repels the moth of the stem borer. Then the Napier grass attracts the moth to it where lays it eggs instead of on the maize.

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This is the first push-pull field which has been going for 15 years. This technology has increased the maize yields from 1.5t/ha to over 5t/ha and has been taken up by 110,000 farms in East Africa. There are other benefits of the system. The Desmodium and the Napier grass can be used livestock feed. The Desmodium provides Nitrogen and is a weed suppressant. They only have to weed once instead of 3 times and only in a small strip not all over. The other benefit is that it is relatively cheap to run. The Desmodium seed is a one off cost. The system can also be used in sorghum and millet.

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Above is showing the difference between with (left) and without (right) push-pull. It is pretty dramatic.

After a few years there became a problem in very dry years that the variety of Desmodium would not survive the drought and so needed to be replanted and the Napier grass developed a disease called Napier Stunt. This led to the second generation Climate Smart Push Pull. They now use a drought tolerant variety of Desmodium and a different grass called Brachiaria.

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Above is a plot that is ready to be planted with maize. They have also tried to work out what the effect of the Desmodium is on Striga. Is it shading of Striga, Nitrogen effect on the maize or root exudates

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The results seem to show that the root exudates have the biggest effects.

The major side benefit of the Push-Pull is the production of fodder for the animal. So at ICIPE they are trialling best practise for fodder harvest, usage and ensiling

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They are also measuring the production benefits and increases in the livestock production

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Another interesting benefit of the Napier grass is that is repels tics so they surround their stall with Napier grass.

We really had a fascinating morning with so much information that I could not fit it all into this blog and I would recommend people visit the website for more information. It is a great example of how to use Mother Nature to your own benefit without large costs which makes it ideal for the small holders. Many thank to the team at ICIPE.

Dennis Siroh, Rusinga Island, Kenya -19th January 2016

Yesterday we had a long drive, about 500km, to Rusinga Island in Western Kenya. It was according to google maps going to take about 7 hours but in reality took 12 hours. Google maps didn’t take into account the unexpected two stops by the police, the 500 speed bumps and traffic jams in towns. Welcome to Africa! We did though see some great sites. we went through the Great Rift Valley

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We also went through the highlands where there was large areas of tea plantations

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One of the reasons we drove this long distance was to see Dennis Siroh and the great work he is doing on Rusinga

 

Rusinga Island has been degraded by human activities over the last 30 yrs. The islands population has gone from 5,000 to 35,000 in 30 yrs. This has lead to deforestation as people have cut down tres to smoke fish and there is no livestock fencing so the cattle and goats have eaten the regrowth down.

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The hill in the background has few trees left and this has also lead to less rainfall on the island. The island traditionally been fishing based but lake Victoria has been over fished, so there is less fish caught. The common crops are also just maize and beans which are only in the ground for 3 months and can fail. This has lead to the project that Denis is involved in with the Organic Farmers of Rusinga Island and Permaculture Research Institute Kenya. The idea of the project is to encourage permaculture principles on small farms so they can feed themselves and have surplus to sell. Below is Dennis’s small holding:

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The idea of permaculture is to have high diversity if plants which all have a use and to make the best use of the rainfall. Some of the crops Dennis grows are Papaya, Sweet potato, cow pea, bananas, Moringa just to name a few. Moringa is the most interesting crop. It is a tree that is nitrogen fixing, produces, fodder, timber, leaves are medicinal and the oils are sold for cosmetics. LUSH the UK cosmetic company have grant aided some set up costs and also buy the oil from the Moringa seeds for their products. The leaves of the tree are also dried and made into a powder

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This powder helps the immune system and helps slow down the effects of HIV, which is a problem here. From Dennis’s half acre plot he feeds seven people and has surplus food

The next person we saw was Julie

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Julie is the star grower. She feeds her large family and by the sounds of it a lot of the village. Today she was harvesting 3 different crops: Moringa, cassava and beans. This plot has only been in for 2 yrs and Julie on average only spends 1-2 hrs per day working in there. We left with Papaya and cassava for lunch.

Next we went to see Doreen

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Doreen is also one of the founding growers. Doreen was growing bananas and pumpkins together

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Bananas are heavy feeders in terms of water and nutrients. Pumpkins provide shade to conserve water also you can eat the pumpkin leaves and the pumpkins. Speaking to Doreen and Julie they told us that they meet every 2 weeks to share ideas with the group and they also save money as a group and lend it out to people for investing in new ideas and inputs.

We then visited the project offices where there is a demonstration site.

imageThere Isiah showed us the nursery they have. They will propagate trees and plants and give them out to farmers. They will also save seeds from the farms and hand them back to the farmers. They also showed us the plant Tephrosia

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It is a pesticide plant as it repels  insects including stem borer in Maize and also aphids. It though is poisonous.

They are also going to try to exploit agro-tourism in the island

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Rusinga is known as bird island and is an ornithologist’s heaven. Once they have healed the landscape there is huge potential from tourism.

We had a great day at Rusinga and were very impressed with what they are doing. The island is a input salesman’s nightmare as it has never used artificial inputs but can still produce large amounts of food when looked after. They only have  just over 20 farmers in the project but aim to increase that to 6000. The effects for the people will not only be economic but social and environmental. Thank you Dennis for your time.

Real IPM Kenya, Thika, Kenya -17th of January 2016

Last night Gordon Whiteford,my fellow Nuffield Scholar, and I arrived in Kenya for a three week tour of Kenya and South Africa. Our first hosts are Henry Wainwright and Louise Labuschagne of Real IPM Kenya. Louise first came to my attention when she spoke last year at the Oxford Farming conference and I was sent a video of her performance http://www.vimeo.com/116287424

Henry and Louise are a British couple who came to Kenya about 12 years ago and started a company which produces biopesticides which control various insect pests. The business/farm covers 20ha and employs 190 people and they sell biopesticides around the world but not Europe due to issues with registration. They are looking to get their products registered in Europe through Real IPM UK. Personally one of their products is of interest to me as it could control Bruchid beetle in Faba beans which is becoming very difficult due to insecticide resistance.

This morning Louise showed around some of their site. First we looked at their “Bags of Hope”. So named by a local bishop as he could see the potential for helping local people

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These are bags filled with soil and compost which you can grow plants in ” vertically” The plant in the picture is similar to kale and you can keep taking leaves and they grow back. This is a nutritious food for the locals. You can grow over 100 plants per m2 in these bags whereas on flat ground you wild only get 5-6 plants per m2.

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You can see the bags in the background with the kale. They also do different size bags for different plants etc.

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We then went to see some vermicomposting. These set ups are aimed at the smallholder

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These beds contain worms which turn pulp into worm cast which is a great fertiliser. So smallholders are producing their own fertiliser. The beds also produce a liquid leachate which can be used as a fertiliser too. They also are looking at smaller versions which can be used in people kitchens

 

Then we went to see the biogas plant

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This plant processes the canteen’s waste and produces gas which is then used the cook food for the workers in the canteen

Louise also has a pregnant Ayrshire cow which she hopes to produces milk from for the canteen

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Though the Kenyans seem to prefer goats milk so they are increasing their numbers of goats

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They are also growing a perennial plant called Napier for fodder. You cut it and it keeps growing back

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Another project they have is growing Darkling beetle larvae for chicken feed. The Darkling beetle are very high in protein. They are grown in a bran.

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They are also looking at hydroponic barley grass as fodder for hens and cows

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They are also using the bags of hope for growing fodder for the animals as well as humans

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They also have their own hens to supply the canteen

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It was a fascinating tour this morning of how Louise and Henry look after and feed their staff in a self sufficient manner. Also seeing how the small holder side of the business is developing as this is a relatively new development for them. Their main business has been large scale biopesticide production to large scale customers. Hopefully when we get back here at the end of the week we can look around this part of their business.

Louise and Henry have really spoiled us today and after a great barbecue we walked to a local lake and saw some hippos

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The hippos were on the other side of the lake and the zoom on the IPad is not good enough to capture them but this was a safe distance from the Hippos so we didn’t try to get any closer!