By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent
BOTH commercial and subsistence farmers can enhance agricultural output on farms in the wake of new technologies at their disposal to boost productivity and profitability, an agriculture expert has said.
Agricultural Technical Extension Services (Agritex) acting director, Stancilae Tapererwa said there was need for farmers to adapt to emerging technologies, novel agricultural practices and products in a bid to increase farm yields.
Speaking during a stakeholders’ meeting in Chinhoyi to discuss the 2020 cropping season post-harvest modalities and plans for the impending 2021 winter wheat season last week, Tapererwa lamented the low uptake of liquid foliar fertiliser by farmers.
“There is urgent need for Agritex officers to sensitise our farmers of new and emerging technologies.
“For instance, there has been resistance resulting in low uptake of foliar fertiliser due to lack of knowledge on its benefits and efficacy to crop establishment and yields,” said Tapererwa.
Foliar fertilisation is the technique of feeding plants by applying liquid fertiliser directly to the leaves so they absorb essential elements through their stomata and epidermis.
As a result of the information gap over the benefits of foliar fertiliser among local farmers contracted to the CBZ Agro-Yield funded Command Agricultural Programme, thousands of litres of the product are lying uncollected at the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depots across the country.
Tapererwa reiterated foliar fertiliser was more beneficial to crops such as maize and sugar beans than granular fertilisers.
He also said it was cheaper and cost-effective to use foliar over traditional compound and top-dressing fertilisers.
“One can cover up to a hectare using only five litres of foliar fertiliser but you might need at least 15 x 50 kilogrammes of granular fertilisers to cover the same field,” said Tapererwa.
The practice of foliar fertilisation is based on scientific research done in the 1950s, which demonstrated that leaves can take up minerals through their stomata, and in some cases their cuticles.
It is most effective when done early morning and late afternoon.
Agritex has acquired motorcycles for use by field personnel for ease of mobility to all parts of the country to provide extension services including information on foliar fertiliser, Tapererwa said.