It’s week 4, can’t just believe that we have come along this far! I am eager to know who your new bio-intensive role model is, having read through our last episode. In case you missed episode 3, here is it.
For this week, SAHE Foundation has brought answers to your curiosity of “how to contribute to food sustainability using Bio-intensive or organic farming?
To start with, you will agree with me that we all eat from the food grown on the soil and more often than not as a result of harvesting and/or other farm operations, we tend to flush away a lot of soil nutrients. Accordingly, in a bid to replenish the lost nutrients, we apply compost to the soil. We always forget that the materials used to produce the compost are also grown and drawn from another soil. This cycle only means that we destroy the soil in one area to feed the ones in another area.
Meanwhile, the goal of every healthy or organic Bio-intensive system is to have a close loop between food production and soil maintenance within the system. (At this point, I will share a diagram for detailed explanation)
Also, we have animals among other things that make up the ecosystem. They interact and work together. For example, animals like sheep, cattle, goats, and poultry, feed on maize and legumes that we grow and produce useful wastes (dungs and urine) which are good for the soil as fertilizer along with the leftover of vegetable, maize or whatever we grow following harvest of farm produce. From all these residues or leftover, we can make compost which will be applied to the soil as organic fertilizer.
Additionally, human beings feed from harvesting cultivated or planted crops, when we prepare our meal, a lot of food waste is being generated. These wastages can also be recycled back into the soil in the form of compost.
Legume crops can be grown to conserve soil nutrients, to grow other crops both for animal feed and human food. The animal, thereafter, provides protein through their products (meat and milk). Hence, it’s a close loop. Yes, it’s a cycle.
When these materials are being returned back to the system, it reduces the pressure of getting external inputs (inorganic fertilizer) because a lot that is available within the system that can replenish lost nutrients.
It is important to note that whenever a crop is uprooted from the garden or farm to eat or sell, a lot of nutrients are been lost from the soil. Have you ever calculated the amount of nutrients that the maize crops from a plot of land supply? This will help to have a knowledge of the quantity of nutrients taken off from the soil?
If we can devote time to do this calculation using a very small plot of land as a case study, then, we will understand the amount of nutrients that we take-off from the soil whenever we plant and harvest. This is because whatever the result gives, is the same nutrients lost from the soil. Hence, the need to replace that same quantity and type of nutrients back to the soil after harvest followed by the same quantity being added to the soil before the next growing season. This will prevent the growing medium (soil) from wearing out quickly.
Making compost from food waste and returning them into the garden or farm means some of the soil nutrients removed will be returned into the soil. Compost provides nutrients and organic matter for the soil. Examples of compost crops used in Bio-intensive farming are carbon and calorie crops and nitrogenous crops.
What are carbon and calorie crops?
Carbon and calorie crops produce high amounts of carbon and significant calories. Examples are majorly grains, cereals (maize, sorghum, millet and wheat) and sunflower. These crops are popular in this part of the world.
What are nitrogenous crops?
These crops are very high in nitrogen. They are fresh or grain leafy vegetables. Nitrogenous crops are always fresh and wet. These crops are ideal for compost making.
In coming weeks, we shall be learning about compost making, the nitty-gritty of composting then, we will be talking more about the carbon and calorie and nitrogenous crops.
For next week, our discussions will be based on calorie crops, what it entails and its importance in Bio-intensive farming.
Remember to send in your questions.
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