Notes to broadcasters
Information on this topic was requested by DCFRN participants in Argentina, Bhutan, Bolivia, Brazil, Cameroon, Caroline Islands, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Nigeria, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Tanzania, Venezuela, and Uganda.
Presenter: George Atkins
Interviewee: Dr. S. K. Hahn, Director, Root and Tuber Research, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, Nigeria
Before using the information in this item, please read the notes at the end concerning related DCFRN items.
We at this radio station are part of a world-wide information network that gathers farming information from developing countries all over the world. It’s the Developing Countries Farm Radio Network, sponsored by the Canadian International Development Agency, Massey Ferguson, and the University of Guelph.
Through this Network, we bring you information on ways to increase food supplies for your family, or to sell—ways that other farmers have used successfully.
We’ve talked before on this program about raising taro or cocoyam in mud plots. Today, let’s think about a special way to grow other crops in addition to taro or cocoyam on wet land.
Here’s George Atkins.
Well, in many places where there are low wet lands like this, farmers could be growing crops on them, but they don’t—only wild grass or weeds grow on them. There are some farmers, however, who do make very good use of land like this—not just for growing wet land crops like taro or cocoyams, but even for vegetables that don’t normally grow in wet land.
“But” you may say, “how can a farmer do that when the ground is wet all the time?”
Well, the farmers I’m talking about pile up the soil in mounds on these wet lands and then they grow crops all over the outside of the mounds.
Let’s think for a moment about what these mounds are like, built of soil dug up from the ground all around them.
Think of several of them built on low wet land; each mound is about 1-1/2 metres (5 feet) high.
Of course, the soil in the mound near the bottom will be wet all the time, just like the soil underneath. Then the soil part way up the side of the mound won’t be quite as wet as the soil at the bottom; and of course soil all over the top of the mound will be a lot drier than the soil at the bottom.
And now can you see how it is that the farmers I’m talking about are able to grow vegetables in these low-lying wet lands? They grow them up on the sides and all over the top of the mounds where the soil is not nearly as wet.
Remember, though, that because the mound is built on top of soil that’s always wet, some of that wetness or moisture will always be coming up inside the mound to provide moisture to roots of plants that grow on the top; and this happens all through the year—even in the dry season.
Remember also that the mound is made of especially good soil with lots of good plant food nutrients in it. That means that plants that grow on the mound will be good healthy plants.
At Ibadan in Nigeria, Dr. S. K. Hahn told me about crops that farmers in his area grow on these mounds.
To begin with, when you go into this low wet land, a lot of wild grasses or weeds are growing there. The first thing to do is cut down all this green growing material in the area where you will build a mound. You’ll be putting all this material into the bottom of your mound, so as you cut it, make a low flat pile of it, about 1-1/2 metres (5 feet) across.
You’ll later be piling soil on top of that.
Now when I was in Nigeria at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, several men were working in a low wet area, building mounds like this, and as Dr. Hahn and I stood there watching them, he told me this.
You can see the weeds growing. They incorporate them and any other organic matter when they demolish the old mounds and construct new mounds with soil from the old ones.
weeds and on top of them pile all the soil from the old mound.
Dr. Hahn says farmers continue doing this season after season.
Serving Agriculture, the Basic Industry, this is George Atkins.
1. In this item, reference is made to two basic questions that have been dealt with in other DCFRN items. They are:
a) What are plant food nutrients and how are plants able to grow by absorbing them through their roots? – DCFRN Package 2, Item 3 Soil Moisture – Necessary for Crops
b) What is organic matter, where does it come from and why is it important? – DCFRN Package 2, Item 4 Making Your Own Compost
2. The DCFRN item listed below contains information that is related to this item. You might wish to use some of that information in connection with this item.
Growing Tasty Taro in Mud Plots – DCFRN Package 11, Item 12