Wamagata Ng’ang’a: Why More Fertilizer Isn’t Always Better

Green house farming Kenya

By Oscar Adika

 

“More isn’t better. It’s just more. And if directed at the wrong things, it’s actually worse.” – anonymous

Tucked in the middle of ever bustling and busy Kinoo area, lies a 3 acre farm. 2 small greenhouses, a cow/goat/chicken/rabbit shed and a home are all squeezed in the little space compound. Everything here is “small” due to the scarcity of land in the area. But don’t be fooled as less can always be more, as we are about to find out..

Wamagata Nganga, the only son in the family, takes full charge in creating maximum gains from the land. Wamagata – a relatively young man, of thin build and huge ambitions has always had a love for farming. As his peers hustle to make a living from big city jobs, Wamagata is farming and making a living out of it.

Wamagata wanted to maximize his tomato yield as much as he could. So he went to the cowshed and piled as much dung as he could in the greenhouses. The tomatoes responded by turning extra green with massive leaves. Pleased with the new changes, Wamagata headed straight to the rabbit den and harvested more rabbit urine to apply as foliar on the tomatoes leaves.

Puzzling Results

His tomato plants were huge, green and leafy but the tomato fruit were so small. How is this the case? Wondered Wamagata.

However the results did disappoint Wamagata. His tomato plants were huge, green and leafy but the tomato fruit were so small. How is this the case? Wondered Wamagata. He had given these plants everything he thought could increase production – but why the low, tiny tomato yield? To make matters worse, a swarm of Whiteflies invaded the greenhouse, complicating matters even further.

This bugged Wamagata a lot. He dove straight onto the internet for solutions. And that’s how Wamagata met CropNuts. He called our support line and asked for help before his farming enterprise goes down. Our Agronomists on the support line first recommended a soil test, which Wamagata did. And the results did reveal alot.

Agronomy Solution

“Most tomato farmers think all big and green is good. And giving more manure or fertilizer will automatically give you more produce. This isn’t always the case. A soil test is always a sure guide as to how much to feed your crop for optimal yields,” advises Ian Mutua, CropNuts Agronomist.

Too much Nitrogen in Wamagata’s green house soil led to his tomato being all bushy, green and leafy. Besides, the thick succulent leaves are a tasty snack to the whiteflies. And what’s more, Wamagata’s soil had little Calcium which caused the small tomato fruit formation.

“Farmers need to know that feeding tomatoes with too much Nitrogen from dung manure will only give them big green lushy leaves and just that! But we need fruits and not leaves!” – Ian

Back to our main idea: More isn’t always better. And that’s what Wamagata learnt. More manure doesn’t always mean more yield. Though it was hard for him to accept that truth at first, he finally implemented our recommendation to reduce the excess fertilizers and manure. And to his pleasant surprise, his tomato production increased from 50kg a week to 100 – 150kg every week

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