By Stanlee Juma
A good soil and a healthy root system have a great value as regards to improved yields. This has been observed in most of the crops especially maize and paprika where Exagris Farms have produced yields ranging from 5,000kgs/ha to 9,000kgs/ha in Maize and more than 2,000kgs/ha in Paprika. In Malawi, a smallholder farmer can potentially produce up to 3,500kg/ha basing on the blanket recommendation on soil nutrient management. In Africa, the average commercial maize production has ranged from 4,500kgs/ha to 8,000kgs/ha over the past 10 years according to FAO (2010). These improved yields have been realised due to site specific fertilizer programs, cropping programs, seed treatments and extensive chemical programs that Exagris Africa Limited adopted over the past 3 seasons.
A soil is a precious resource hence a need to be cared for. It provides every support that every plant needs. Exagris makes sure that it protects the soil biodiversity to improve and maintain its productivity. The cropping programs include food legumes and in crop rotations which provide residual nutrients into the soil and improve the organic matter content. Sun hemp, a legume fallow is used as green manure in the crop rotation plan especially in sandy soils to improve their overall structure. Before amending the soils, the company take soil samples from all farms for full analysis where specific nutrient and lime recommendations for each crop on each field are made. The soil amendments ensure a good nutrient balance as regards to crop nutrient requirement and soil quality. They provide food for soil microorganisms and good soil conditions for good root growth and entire crop development. When you apply the fertiliser, you don’t fertilize the crops, you fertilize the soil and then the crops get the nutrients from the soil. So if the soil is not well conditioned the crops fail to get the required nutrients resulting in poor yields.