Field demonstrations to implement soil moisture conservation and soil fertility management options at Yule Island were underway in mid-February, 2015.
Farmers from Yule Island in Central Province were shown options of mulching, composting, planting leguminous hedge rows using Glyricidia sepium, Mucuna species, and planting other legume crops and plants (depending on the availability of planting materials locally).
The demonstrations were conducted by NARI Scientists Johannes Pakatul and Tai Kui from NARI’s Highlands Regional Centre, Aiyura.
At one garden, two yam demonstration plots were planted with 15 seeds with compost and 15 seeds were planted as done locally. Compost materials used were local grass vegetation, Imperata cylindrica and Rottboellia axaltata, amongst other broad leaf weeds. Leaves of the legume Glyricidia sepium were added to the planting hole before covering it with soil.
At another garden a demonstration was done using Glyricidia sepium branches which were cut and planted at the edges of the garden. Farmers were asked to continue with planting on the edges of the garden.
Another demonstration involved the planting of nitrogen-fixing legume crops in 3m x 6m blocks, with mung-beans in one block, dwarf and climbing beans in a second block, and Mucuna seeds in a third block.
The scientists also reported back to farmers at Hisiu on the findings from soil samples, collected in a previous visit, on the soil nutrient status of their gardens. More than 60 farmers, both young and old, males and females, attended the session. Farmers were eager to learn of the good properties of their soils, and of any disadvantages for their cultivated crops.
The scientists also highlighted the importance of improving organic matter of shallow sandy alluvial soils with soil improvement options like composting, integrating agroforestry options using Glyricidia, and mulching.
Training on soil fertility improvement in farmer fields using vegetables will be conducted at a later date by NARI Scientist Philmah Seta-Waken