Mechanized Crop Agronomy
Agronomy is the science of growing crops for different products (food, feed, fuel, fiber etc.)it encompasses technologies cutting all scientific and socio-scientific disciplines: biology, chemistry, economics, ecology, earth science, and genetics. It involvesmany labour intensive and costly actives: land drainage, clearing ridging, leveling preparations, and seeding. Other activities involving crops include weeding, spaying, harvesting, threshing sorting and treatment. There are other activities of extracting useful products or adding value to the crops and by-products, the focus of AMRI is presently restricted to key field operations where mechanization could enhance the cost effectiveness in production of food, fuel and fiber.
Rationale and Justification
AMRI intends to increase speed of operations though providing platforms for mechanizing agronomic activities. At a different level, soil and water conservation in agro-ecosystems should be a priority in all field operations involved in crop production. The current seedbed preparation based on moldboard and or disc plough followed by hallowing lead to rapid loss of soil organic carbon and subsequent loss of water holding capacity. Therefore, there needs to be a shift in crop production where conservation agriculture (CA) is promoted in all field operations. Climate smart agriculture (CSA) is now emphasizing on principles of minimal soil disturbance, ensuring permanent soil cover and crop diversification. Promoting CA could be multi-phased approach, where equipment such as sub-soilers /rippers which open planting furrows with minimal soil disturbance in the rest of inter-row spacing are employed. Use of shallow weeding and herbicides for weed control could will be promoted through mechanization.
To assist land users, apply conservation measures that will maintain the sustainability of the cropland resource as well as reduce or eliminate offsite environmental impacts to other resources
- To develop and validate machinery for increased water and fertility conservation on specific crop production
- To develop and validate machinery for seeding, weeding, spraying and harvest technologies readily adoptable to specific farming communities.
- Changing the mindset of producers that a seedbed need to be ploughed and harrowed for crops to flourish
- Competition for crop residues between requirement to use it as soil cover and animal feed under agro-pastoral systems
- Low level of knowledge on appropriate use of chemical weed control methods among producers
- Limited availability of appropriate tractor and animal drawn subsoilers and rippers in the country
Promote CA practices and design/fabricate farm equipment that enhance soil and water conservation in all pre-harvest field operations.