I grew this crop as part of my fodder crop and also for crop rotation. My little research showed that a crop like sunflower was good to add to a crop rotation program as they have deep roots. This would help keep the soil structure and nutrients balanced especially when rotated with a shallow rooted crop like maize.
Sunflower in general is not a difficult crop to grow. Its spray program for me was mostly to control insects. I did see much, if any, in form of fungal diseases that affected it.
Most people round the farm couldn't understand why I would want to do sunflower farming, especially as a fodder crop. I has however researched and seen that it was a good energy source and required a shorter growing period as compared to maize, which is the most popular crop for fodder.
Sunflower has various varieties I tried a non hybrid one with low fat content as well as a hybrid, high fat content. The hybrid, high fat content one seemed to do better. I guess the better genetics through hybrid vigour.
I began thinking of sorghum as a viable fodder crop for my animals when I attended an agricultural show in the area. There was a sorghum variety I saw from one of the seed companies that looked quite impressive. It was as tall , if not taller, than the tallest maize crop at the show. It also had a lot of foliage which I figured was good especially for fodder for the cows.
Sorghum growing in the field
I immediately began planning on how to grow the sorghum on the farm. There were many varieties of sorghum, and as I came to find out later, they were not all equal. At the show I actually went to the stand by the company with the impressive variety of sorghum. When I enquired on whether I could purchase some sorghum seed, I was informed that they were all sold out. I couldn't believe it, it was just the second day of the show! I was told that the only way I could try and get seed was to contact the head office. Long story short, it was a long wait before I got the seed.
Maize has been grown on our farm since way back. It is not only a staple in our diet but more recently it is fodder for the cows. Maize is the main ingredient that makes our staple food called ugali. It is eaten with just about anything. I have a feeling most people would say you give them ugali or give them death.
Harvesting maize for silage production
Maize farming is pretty straightforward. The first step is land preparation. This begins with ploughing, then harrowing to make the soil finer, then lastly planting. In more recent years, I prefer to make furrows so as to have straight evenly placed lines of crop. This is better as opposed to planting purely by hand.
At the time I was beginning my farming journey, I only had one heifer and as I needed money more immediately for upkeep as I had already quit my full time job. At the time there was one agro company that was promoting heavily its greenhouse farming as a business idea.
I, along with several other farmers and would be new farmers bought into this idea.
The dream they sold was that you could buy one kit inclusive of the greenhouse tunnel, drip lines, water tank and sees and agro inputs for a whole season. They also threw in some training for a whole day so as the very green fellows, could have an idea of best agronomy practices. The training was also to guarantee you that once you follow all that was taught, you were guaranteed an income. Said income would enable you to not only earn some profit but also completely of the greenhouse tunnel kit within a year.
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