FARMERS have been urged to adopt zero tillage methods of farming to enable them cut down cost, labour and increase their yield.
Zero tillage farming, also known as no-tillage or direct seeding, is a scientific method of tilling or cultivating a field in which the soil is disturbed as little as possible by essentially not ploughing the field.
The crop is then planted directly into a seedbed which has not been tilled since the harvest of the previous crop.
Speaking at a two-day capacity building workshop at Tongo for 80 farmers drawn from 80 households in the Gbane and Gbeogo communities in the Talensi District of the Upper East Region, Mr Godwin Akuliya, Deputy Regional Engineer at the Ministry of Food Agriculture (MOFA), entreated the farmers to embrace the concept since there are more benefits that could be derived from it.
The programme was sponsored by World Vision Ghana (WVG) and facilitated by the Rural Initiatives for Self-Empowerment-Ghana (RISE-Ghana) MOFA.
Mr Akuliya told the farmers that the application of fertilisers is not necessary in the zero tillage system of farming because the residue of the crops usually left on the field after harvesting stimulates the growth of organic matter and also serves as mulching to the plants.
He said the application of intensive labour is also not required under the zero tillage farming, because one does not need to plough the land with tractors; thus farmers could save cost.
Some other advantages associated with the system of farming is reduction in soil erosion, conservation of soil moisture, reduction in soil compaction, increased soil organic matter, and better soil structure.
Other advantages include improved soil fertility, high yields, suppression of the growth of weeds, improved infiltration and aeration.
Research had proved that farmers who undertake this system of farming harvest as much as three times, compared to the mechanised system of farming, and get more profits from the proceeds after selling them. The quality of the yields is also high, Mr Akuliya said.
According to the Deputy Regional Engineer, farmers in Uganda, Zimbabwe, Burundi and Kenya have adopted the system and had gained a lot of benefits from the concept.
Mr Henry Ayamga, Regional Animal Production Officer at MoFA, took the farmers through formulas for animal and poultry supplementary feeding using local resources to save cost.
Mr Fredrick Amoabeng, Manager of WVG in charge of the Talensi Area Development Programme, urged the farmers to put the knowledge they had acquired to use to help increase food production and improve on the nutritional needs of children in their households.
“If you adopt the farming techniques under zero tillage and the local supplementary feeding, you will increase food production in the households and sell your produce to earn income to cater for your children’s education, as well as improve on your nutritional status, which is among the cardinal principles of WVG,” he said.
Mr Ahmed Awal, Project Manager of RISE-Ghana, said one of the main principles of his outfit is Environmental Sustainability and Livelihood Empowerment, and expressed optimism that the training would empower the farmers to adopt sound environmental practices and improve on their livelihoods.
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