Farming Tips

Farming Tips on Livestock: Note: Always consult your local livestock specialist.
Nutritional and Health aspects to be considered as the rainy season approaches

1. Urea poisoning: although the rainfall has started, some grazing areas have not improved yet, and farmers have to be on alert when still providing UREA-containing lick supplements. Symptoms of poisoning amongst others include incoordination and weakness, frothy salivation, muscle tremor, and abdominal pain. Treat poisoned animals by mixing vinegar with water, Cattle (750ml vinegar + 1L water), smallstock (half of each). Urea supplements must also be mixed thoroughly and lick troughs must be protected from the rain.

2. Lick supplementation:as soon as the grazing improves (green and plenty), shift from winter to summer supplementation, mainly minerals, phosphate (P) licks. The body demand for P increases with increasing amount of fodder/grazing, and Namibian soils are generally deficient in P, especially the sandy areas (Omaheke, Zambezi, Kavango, and Ohangwena amongst others) where rainfall also causes nutrients to leach or seep deep down the soil surface.

3. Pulpy kidney in goats and sheep: The rainfall season has come and this brings changes in forage materials in terms of quantity and quality resulting in a change in an animal’s diet and the rumen environment because animals are now eating different type or more food than before. The bacteria that causes pulpy kidney lives in the animal’s digestive system and it is awaken by a sudden change in the rumen environment, and it starts multiplying and producing toxins. If animals are also dewormed without being vaccinated against pulpy kidney, they can get the disease. Therefore is advisable to vaccinate against pulpy kidney when forage conditions or feeding regimes are changing, and 2 or 3 weeks before deworming.

Nutritional needs of grazing animals during early winter months (May/Jun/July):

During this time the grass stops growing (goes into dormancy); it becomes dry, yellow, and seeds fall off. When that happens, the nutrients are withdrawn from leaves and stems, and stored underground in the root system until the next growing season. The most deficient nutrient during that period is protein as most of it is lost with the seeds. Vitamin A is also lost as the grass becomes dry. Therefore, your early winter livestock supplementation should mainly be protein licks (e.g. Dry veld Concentrate), and inoculation with vitamin A. The inoculation of Vitamin A should be done every 3 months during the dry season as it last only 3 months in the animal’s body.

Farming Tips on Agronomy& Horticulture:

Planting Season Tips:

The season for planting has officially arrived and farmers should be busy preparing the land for cultivation and planting of grains like pearl millet (Mahangu), sorghum and maize and horticulture crops like spinach, carrots and tomatoes (which are also referred to as short-season crops). Establishing a crop means that seeds or seedlings are placed in the ground at a certain time (referred to as planting time). If the crop establishes itself poorly, the yield potential is immediately

Thus, a significant relationship exists between the time you plant and the crop yield you obtain. To ensure that the optimum yield is realised, crop producers need to take into consideration factors such as the correct time for planting, the plant spacing and the depth of seeding (sowing depth).

1. Planting time
For most crops there is an optimum time for planting, which depends on the climatic conditions and the time taken by the crops to reach maturity. For summer crops, such as maize, pearl millet and cow pea, early planting at the beginning of the rainy season is desirable as yields decrease with late planting. If planting commences late, the crop is likely to not reach its full physiological stage due to fewer days remaining for it to reach maturity.

2. Plant spacing
The spacing of plants refers to the distance between rows and between plants in the row. The closer the spacing, the greater the number of crops that can be planted per hectare. However, too close spacing results in competition among crops and diseases and pests can spread quickly among the crop population. The ideal plant spacing depends on the type of crop, variety and the climatic conditions such as rainfall and water availability. Tomatoes may be grown at closer spacing of 5 cm apart, whereas crops like runner beans require 30 cm spacing in-between. In drier areas, wider spacing is preferable in order to provide more soil water to the individual crops. In high rainfall areas, or where there is irrigation, closer spacing is possible.

3. Sowing depth
The sowing depth of a crop depends on the size of the seed, the type of soil and the weather. Generally, smaller seeds are sown at a shallower depth than larger seeds, while the deeper the seed is planted, the longer it will take the seedling to emerge and the weaker the plant will be at emergence (which may reduce plant vigour and yield). Seeds may be planted deeper into sandy soil or in the case of dry planting i.e. planting before the rainy season. An important point farmers should remember when planting is to ensure good seed-to-soil contact as this enables the necessary absorption of water by seeds, which initiates germination.

To achieve an optimum crop harvest, do not crowd seedlings or plant them too close to each other. Give the plants sufficient time and space to reach their full potential and avoid deeper seeding in heavy soils.

Seasonal gardening:

Gardening is not just a one-season practice but should be planned year-round to ensure sustainable food production and income. Different vegetables have different growth requirements, and so do they have different seasonal adaptability. Some are adapted to summer season whereas some are winter season vegetables. There are also those that can grow in both seasons. Below is a list of common vegetables and their suitable planting time;

  1. Spinach (April to August)
  2. Carrot (all season)
  3. Peppers and chillies (September to March)
  4. Onion (February to May)
  5. Sweet potato (August to November)
  6. Tomatoes (August to November)
  7. Cabbage (April to June)
  8. Beetroot (February to April and August to October)
  9. Sweet potato (August to November)

Note: Always consult your local crop specialist.

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How many times in a year do I have to control parasites?

Controlling parasites in any area/farm would depend on the their prevalence and infestation. These will differ between seasons and geographical locations because parasite prevalence and infestation is influence by the prevailing environmental conditions (e.g. hot, cold or wet conditions), and also livestock management practices (e.g. kraal and water hygiene) . It is therefore advisable to be on the lookout for parasite prevalence and infestation during any prevailing environmental condition. Normally, a minimum of two times in year is advisable, before and after the rainfall season for both internal and external parasites. read more

What can I supplement to my livestock during the dry season?

Livestock supplementation during the dry season becomes complex and expensive because the forage materials have lower nutrient content and diminishing in quantity. The most limited nutrient during the early months of winter is Protein, and as the forage materials becomes drier and less in quantity as the season progresses, energy becomes less in the process. Therefore, to avoid animals lose a lot of condition, the most important supplements to provide are; protein and energy supplements. When you are buying winter or dry season lick, ask for protein and energy products in the shop. read more

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