Saturday, May 2, 2020

Make the most out of your #soilanalysis

Start/invest in a organic farm
In order to proper assess your soil analysis nutrients you will have to make a in-depth certified soil analysis.
Soil fertility is a key component of soil productivity and a crucial aspect of soil quality as well. Assessment of a soils fertility status involves an estimation of its available nutrient status. This exercise is commonly referred to as soil testing and used by farmers around the world to arrive at optimum fertilizer application rates. The need for estimation of “available” nutrient arises because only a small fraction of the total nutrient content is in the plant available form which too is not directly proportional to the total nutrient content of the soil.
Soil tests are calibrated by correlating them with crop response and the results form the basis for making fertilizer recommendations.
Also take in account that for organic farming there is a paradigm shift from conventional farming that is focused on feeding the plant most of the time with chemicals that deplete soil nutrients by 3–6% which in the long term will actually increase the amount of chemical fertilizers needed and that in part is a big part of the fertilizers suppliers Big Agri business model and will generate a useless soil when in turn to organic farming which is focused on feeding the soil with only certified organic fertilizers that actually does the exact opposite.

Important Parameters

Physical Parameters: Water Holding Capacity, soil texture % (as per mechanical analysis) sand/clay/silt/texture category, soil type, porosity.
Chemical parameters: pH, Electrical Conductivity (EC), Calcium Carbonate, Organic Carbon, Sodium Adsorption Ratio (SAR), Exchangeable Sodium Percentages ( ESP).
Major Nutrients: Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium.
Macro Nutrients: Calcium, Magnesium, Sulphur.
Micro Nutrient: Sodium, Copper, Zinc, Ferrous, Manganese, Boron, Molybdenum.
And let’s say you have done a soil analysis and you have got a report on all of that and now WHAT?
By taking your time to study the comments in the free Google sheet linked above and bellow you will receive valuable insights on how to best make use of your resources and leverage them all together to achieve maximum yields:
In the end I leave you with a video clip explaining the specific strategies and certified practices a farmer needs to undertake to make the most out of his own soil resources to be able to harness the maximum yields per plots:
Article posted initially on medium.
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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

HOW to START | INVEST in an #organicfarm

HOW to Start/invest in an #organicfarm
1. Learn the basics of organic farming
Learning the basics of natural and organic farming is the first step in starting an organic farm. This definitely gives hints of what one may expect and where one should be starting from. It is helpful to invest in a pre-hand research.
It is also important to be engaged in conversations with people who are already in the business. Participate in organic farm training programs and farmer-meet-up symposiums. The experience of another farmer who went through a similar phase is very helpful in making the exploratory process a lot smoother.
The internet also plays a huge role as there is a massive playlist tutorials, videos, and online forums about organic farming. Books relating to organic farming is also a massive resource worthy of consideration.
As you research organic farming begin to define some broad goals for yourself. Some key issues to consider include the following:
  • How do you define your organic values?
  • What are your personal goals related to farming — to learn or fulfill a need?
  • Are you going into organic farming due to environmental goals? If so which ones?
  • Would you like to run a family farm, a small scale operation or a huge farm?
  • What are your economic goals? Do you want to make a lot of profit or just enough to live on?
2. The site is key — be sure to make a soil analysis and a water analysis for your final site to make sure it can be organic certified
The site also plays a vital role for any farming venture to be successful. An organic farm’s location usually determines how the venture will turn out.
The organic farm site should be near a clean water source: water is a non-negotiable resource for crop growth and health. If the water source is far, it is much more difficult to manage the irrigation process. For a newcomer, this is a tedious consideration to make but is also crucial for the success of the venture.
The proximity of the farm to the marketplace also plays a big role in the sustainability of the farm. The farm’s closeness to the market allows for the easy transport of produce for selling. Also, this helps save costs when transporting materials to the farm.
However, site selection should also be aligned with the purpose of the organic farm. If the farm is not for a commercial purpose, the role of the above-mentioned factors will potentially decrease. The purpose of the farm also determines its size.
3. Match the land size with an optimum business model
While deciding on what can be grown in the land, it is extremely important to assess the site’s soil condition as well as the resources available. A plant that is indigenous to the landscape, temperature, elevation, and available resources is much easier to manage than growing a plant that is foreign to the area.
However, there are also practical ways in growing crops and animals that are not native to that specific area. Take note, though, that this might be a little challenging for first-time organic farmers.
There are also instances when the available land area is comparatively insufficient for the wide range of crops that the farmer is planning to grow. In these cases, there are many tried-and-tested workarounds for limited farming space such as vertical gardening, container farming, and intercropping, among many others.
4. Know your market inside out
It is very important to know the type of market that a farmer is catering for. Some agricultural products may not be sellable in a certain type of market. This consideration is very helpful in making the venture sustainable.
Find out what agricultural products the market needs, what is the market’s buying capacity, and how often does the market buy such produce. It is also important to figure out how the farmer will sell products to the market. Keep a backup marketing plan, too.
5. Take care of what you plant and be patient an thorough in your organic certification process
The process of growing a crop is a lengthy one. Organic farming takes time and it required more attention compared to conventional farming. There are certain techniques that need to be considered depending on the plant and farm condition. Also, one organic farming technique may not necessarily work for all plants in the farm.
Water is a must for plant’s growth and health. Regular watering is necessary for the plants to grow. Generally, plants are watered 2–3 times a day depending on their type as well as the location where they are being grown. Watering the plant in the morning is very helpful as mornings are cool. Due to this, the water does not evaporate fast.
Weeding is another important maintenance task. Weeds grow in good soil and these unwanted plants get nutrients that are supposed to be for crops.
6. Seek a MENTOR/CONSULTANT and network with KEY industry people
This might look like it is not directly related to the things we are discussing, but seasoned organic farmers believe that this is crucial. There are many instances when farmers get lost in their pursuit of organic farming production, and they do not know what to do next to improve their cycles. Books and online tutorials may help in unexpected situations, but nothing beats expert advice from a living breathing organic farmer. It is also very important to network with people who can help in selling farm products. These people also can connect organic farmers to the right markets.
7. Invest in your own R&D — EDUCATION and leverage TECHNOLOGY
More and more SaaS applications are available that can help aggregate publicly available data(using Big Data techniques) and help you as an organic farmer accelerate your knowledge about agro-ecology( in terms of strategies, know-how and certified practices ), give you a step by step guidance on all the farming processes( from initial investment to actual profit ) and also help you measure and manage your business by making use of a smart sensors IoT kit!

Article originally posted on medium.

PS. Subscribe to get notified as in the next article we will talk about all the steps needed to get started with such an investment.