Sunday, November 3, 2013

importance of Guano.


The definition of the word guano varieties depending on which reference source you consult. One source suggests the word derived from the Quichua language of the Inca civilization and refers to the droppings of seabirds. While another implies it is from the Quichua language of the Inca civilization and that it refers to, feces and urine of seabirds, bats, and seals.
Regardless of the correct interpretation of the word it has been integrated into our language to refer to both seabirds and bats and is one of the finest natural fertilizers available on the market today.

Guano is collected from natural deposits of seabirds and bat droppings in areas where favorable climatic conditions insured a minimal loss of nutrients through leaching. Either from seabirds in coastal areas with minimal rainfall, or in the case of bats, from inside caves where climate has little or no effect on the guano deposit.

Guano contributes more than its share of nutrients to the soil. Both the bat and seabird guano are an exceptionally rich source of natural nutrients that supplies many beneficial enzymes and bacteria, large amounts of minor and trace minerals as well as being high in nitrogen and phosphorus.
Guano can vary greatly in the levels of N.P.K. and trace minerals and is dependent on many factors including, environment, mineral composition of the land or cave of the deposit, food source of the animal and age of the guano deposit. So as with other animal manures a chemical analysis of guano, is only a general approximation of the nutritional plant food value.

In addition to everything else bats droppings go through a process of natural decomposition aided by guano beetles and decomposing microbes, which help control many soil-borne diseases. These microbes help to break down any toxins in the soil and act as a natural fungicide when it is fed to plants via their leaves. It is these same properties of guano that also makes it an excellent compost activator.
The end result is a natural organic fertilizer that improves the natural balance of the soil, building and conditioner the texture and friability of it without increasing either salt content or acidity. Guano fertilizer is considered to be one of the top sources of organic nutrients available for vegetable gardeners today.

Guano usually comes to the gardener in the forms of powder, pellets or liquid. It can be applied as a top dressing and worked into the soil, mixed with water and applied as a foliar spray or injected into an irrigation system.Guano supplies both fast and slow release nutrients to the soil biological system.
As with all natural manures guano will need time to break down the nutrients into the soluble inorganic form needed for plants. Although guano fertilizer is one of the fastest manure to breakdown the amount of micro bacteria in your soil will have a bearing on the time this takes. Pure guano is applied in much smaller amounts than ordinary barnyard or poultry manure.

Guano Tea
To make guano tea for feeding plants, add 1 cup of guano powdered fertilizer to 1 gallon of water. Mix thoroughly and let stand for 24 hours. Strain the solids out and apply tea at 1 - 2 cups per plant. For larger plants apply 2 - 4 cups of tea. As with comfrey tea don’t waste the residue, use it to mulch around the root zone of established plants.


Guano Bat high N103.01.0
Guano Bat high P3.0101.0
Guano Seabird high N128.01.0
Guano Seabird high P1.0101.0
The large variations in the N.P.K content in guano from the different sources allow guano to be process for either high nitrogen or high phosphorus levels. Guano that is processed for high nitrogen is used primarily
for its nitrogen content but will still contain a good amount of phosphorous, potassium and micro-nutrients.
Similarly, guano fertilizer processed for high phosphorous will have some nitrogen, potassium and micro-nutrients.
The guano raw product can also be manipulated for the finished product to contain equal portions of both.

All garden vegetables will benefit from the nutrient rich guano. Leafy greens prefer high-nitrogen for growth, as the plant approaches budding and fruiting time the phosphorous, flowering guano, is more appropriate.
Average application of all guano is 1/2 to 2 pounds per 100 sq. ft. of vegetable garden preferably broadcast before planting.
For large transplants dig a hole 2-3 times larger than the root ball. Mix into the soil 1 cup of guano fertilizer.
For established Plants, Use 1/2 cup - 3 cups per plant depending on size. Lightly scratch into the top 1inch (2.5 cm) of soil and water thoroughly.

Seedlings and young tender plants do not need much fertilizer, if any is to be used, mix 1-2 heaping tablespoons per one gallon of potting soil or use a liquid solution.

Guano is excellent for adding to growing mixes in your container garden. New Container Plants add 2 Tbsp. per gallon of soil.
For established container plants use 1/2 cup 1 cup per plant. Lightly scratch the powder into the top 1inch (2.5 cm) of soil and water thoroughly.

A liquid guano solution can be applied more often. Mix 1-2 cup of guano into about 5 gallons of water. One application of liquid guano every second week will be enough to gauge future applications. Liquid fertilizer is excellent if plant deficiencies are discovered and immediate nutrient addition is needed as with all liquid fertilizers the plant nutrients are immediately available to the plant.

Because of the various choices of NPK content in guano fertilizer it can be used as a natural alternative to chemical solution for growing hydroponically.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Chingwaru Organic Sunflower seed and oil production

I have this year begun another community food production project in Murehwa 96km from Harare . The project named Chingwaru Organic Sunflower seed and oil production is aimed at creating employment to the rural and unemployed householders of the Chingwaru rural area.
We will grow sunflower seeds, use it for different things as it is needed in the kitchen as well as cold pressing some of the seed to get cold pressed sunflower oil for the community. Cold pressed sunflower oil is too expensive for these villagers to get and it’s a valuable source of nutrients for rural families. So far the project have employed 23 women who have done the planting and will continue through harvesting , pressing and marketing of the oil. These sunflowers will be rotated with Alfa-alfa and groundnuts to help keep our soil rich in nitrogen and also get peanut butter from the nuts. The alfa-alfa will be used to supplement the feeding of our cattle and goats that also belong to this household food production project. Sun dried goat and beef are going to be part of our products by end of the year.
Interestingly we used draft power, ridges were made by an OX-DRAWN mouldbody plough. More news and pictures to come.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

interesting global award

The $10,000 Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application, endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation, will be presented every October in Des Moines, Iowa, by the World Food Prize Foundation.
This award will recognize exceptional, science-based achievement in international agriculture and food production by an individual under 40 who has clearly demonstrated intellectual courage, stamina, and determination in the fight to eliminate global hunger and poverty.
The award will honor an individual who is working closely and directly “in the field” or at the production or processing level with farmers, animal herders, fishers or others in rural communities, in any discipline or enterprise across the entire food production, processing, and distribution chain.
In a recently released report by an international group of scientists funded by Earth Open Source, the team of researchers conclude that as far back as the 1980s, regulators knew that exposure to the glyphosate-based pesticide commonly marketed as Monsanto's Roundup causes birth defects.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Monday, December 26, 2011

What is Agro-forestry

Agroforestry is a new word for a very old farming method. The word, and also the practical meaning,combine agro as in farming and forestry as in trees.
Very simply Agroforestry combines or intergrates trees and shrubs with crops and or animals in farming system. In this it deffers from forestry which may have a large area covered with only one type (or a few) of trees,and clearly it deffers from conventional agriculture which may have large areas only covered in Maize or Wheat. In Agroforestry trees and shrubs maybe grown either at the same time as the crops or in rotation with the crops.

There is nothing new about growing trees and crops together. Our ancestors did this. Agroforestry began through the careful observation and sound common sense of our ancestors as they worked out the best ways of sustainably feeding themselves while keeping the soil constantly rich,productive and fertile,and benefiting from all those resources that nature provided for free.

What may be really new in Agroforestry is now farmers do a lot of tree planting and caring of those trees, whereas traditionaly the farmer mainly used existing trees.
Agroforestry is about using traditional knowledge and improving the methodes and techniquies that have been used over generations.It combines from traditional experiencies and scientific experiments.

Agroforestry is a farming system - This means that the diffent parts of the farm are dependent on each other and that the parts co-operate. This means that crops,animals and trees support each other to produce the totral yield on farm.Think about the parts of a bicycle co-operate to m,ove the vehicle and what it is carrying.
One reasopn why Agroforestry is such a successful system is that it imitates a natural ecosystem in which a great variety of living and non-living matter interact in a highly productive and sustainable fashion.Think about how plants,trees, and animals licve and rot in a forest, and how this seems to go on and on.......
Consider Agroforestry the next time you do your field/farm plan!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Environmental economics should be streagthened

Through my practices as an agricultural extension officer I had found that though farmers and householders may be aware of dangers of using non-sustainable,fossil energy based farming practices, they keep doing it as they lack valid economic reasons to substantiate that ecological farming is the key to both our health and that of our planet.
Quite a lot of good agric extension officers,environmentalist and permaculturist I meet fail to convience me with economic reasons why ecological farming must be persued though they could show attractive field results of thier work. I had researched and found out that the following are some of the main reasons why we should use our environmental resources protectively and wisely from the economic point of view.

1) Firstly there is a consensus that many environmental goods which were once regarded as free goods,have now become scarce resources, therefore unless immediate action is taken to prevent depletion/depreciation of these resources sustainable growth may not be feasible

2) Scientific and engeering aproaches to environmental problems can help in understanding the two way linkages between ecological and economic system in identifying the caouses of environmental degradation and in obtaining physical measurements of environmental damages, while for many decision-making problems an economic approach is needed to obtain money values of the damages

3) There has been a gradual shift in many developed countries from command and control type of policy approach to environmental protection to a policy regime which relies largely on economic/market-based instruments to achieve environmental policy goals. The reason for this shift is the reaslization that economic based instruments are incentive based and that they provide an opportunity to economic agaents to use their private information which is seldom available to the regulator,in their search for least cost option for compliance with the regulations.

4)Gorvenments require cost- benefit analysis of environmental legislations,resetting environmental standards and introductions of new policy instruments for enviromental protection.The ipmact of the proposed policy changes on cost,outputs, prices and exports prospects at the industry level and their ovaral impact at the economy level must be assessed.

5) In reaching binding international agreements on global environmental issues, economic analysisi is neeeded to assess the likely impact of different policy options on the distributions of cost and benefit among the nations and in devising mechanisms for sharing the cost and benefit in equitable manner.

There is a diffrence between an ecologists' perspective and economists' perspective in their approach to environmental problems. While the ecologists' perspective is holistic in the sense that they approach environmental problems from the viewpoint of all living organismsm,economists, particularly those trained in utilitarian framework,adopt an anthropocentric approach to the problem. We need to streaghthen environmental economics and encourage youths to take this route in studying as thats were our future lies!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Thinking Ecologically pays

At Manda Wilderness Agricultural Project the major problem was and is still poor soil fertility. The farm where the project is being undertaken lies less than 200m away from the shores of the great lake Malawi. The soils are as one might predict highly draining poor beach sandy soils.
Several volunteers and managers had worked at the project and managfed to improved on other aspects of production but not soil fertility. I then listed it as one of my major goals to improve the fertility of the soil so that a variety of vegetables can be grown other than just s herbs an a few salads that the farm was specialising on. My first action ws to get the soil tested , so I sampled two batches of soil. One of our guests volunteered to take one sample with him to Kenya where soil testing laboratories are more efficient than in Mozambique while we took the other sample to the Mozambician national soil analysis lab in Maputo.
While I was waiting for the results to give me directions I started constructing a worm farm. The place is of very limited resources and I only managed to get one large plastic container, a guaze wire to cover on top. I partitioned the innerside of the container into two, the bottom part for reception and storage of worm wee and the top part where my worms will stay. There wasn't even anything to use as a lead that can fit on that large bin of about 60cm diameter so I took a piece of guaze wire that I had left on my chicken tractor construction and put it on top as a cover with stones tied around to stop it from being blown away by wind. The result of this interesting craftwork is that shown in the photo above.
I then started collecting worms from the compost piles and from anywhere around the farm as there was nowhere to buy the breeding stock. After about three weeks of collecting, domesticating and feeding of only a handfull of worms we started to harvest the 'precious liquid' vermileachate. The liquid become more and more stronger at every harvest till it was dark black in colour a sign that the worms were multiplying very rapidly and were happy with the environment. One day when we decided to harvest the worm cast we were shocked to find out that we had over two kgs of worms in stock. We took some to the compost piles to help with decomposition and some we directily place them under mulch in vegetable beds.
A month later the Kenyan Laboratories brought the results indicating that apart from lack of nitrogen the soil was too alkaline dew to the use of Lake Malawi water for irrigation and one of the few available options to control that situation organically was to add "organic acids" and Vermileachate was listed as one of the best sources.
The Mozambician labs eventually sent their portuguees written results two months before my term was over. Thank god the nutrient status were quoted in scientific chemical symbols so though I couldn't read their analysis reportr myself I could see that our soils had very low levels of potassium and nitrogen. Even the compost samples that I had sent together with the soil had insufficient Nitrigen to cover up the difficiency, the four litres of worm wee that we were geting couldn't cover up the defficience on the whole farm either. So a plan come to my mind - to visit the famous bat full baobab tree and find out how much Guano (bat manure) was loaded inside its cave. The task was a marmoth one. The cave had not been entered since the liberation war in Mozambique and none of our bush guides was willing to lower himself inside the 4m deep,dark and scary 2000 year old cave, so I took the responsibility to myself.
We managed to harvest about 60 kgs of guano and I knew I had found one of the best natural sources of nitrogen and potassium. I conservatively used it in compost making and make some of it into guano tea by soaking in water it for 24hrs. I also blended it with the vermileachate and produced a thic black tea that I was diluting 1 part : 10 . God knows what blend was that but what I can testify is - it brought the first carrots ever on the farm to the kitchen.Carrot production was totally impossible at this farm dew to high infestation of nematodes so I believe dew to the nematocide properties of the guano tea blended with the vermileachate, naturaly and simply cures the problem.Ofcourse the chicken tractor effect also contributed, but whatever the reason was ,it was a function of ecological thinking and designing that I am proud of.


Exchanging culture is one of the best ways to improve diversity and sustainability in agriculture through sharing ideas and knowledge.Different individuals from different countries or regions have different but useful ways and ideas of tackling agricultural and food production issues.
The U.S military trainees visited MWAP (Manda Wilderness Agricultural Project ) in Mozambique and enjoyed my campany for a week.

A renouned Dutch painter and florist Mr Benzon tought me how to decorate interior walls and even how to improve the appearance of our packaging through stylish wraping and decorating I very much enjoyed his company.