Soil, Environment and management requirements of BAT growing area Eastern province

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Ministry Of Agriculture
Site evaluation was conducted in eastern province following the request from BAT Company from 18/3/08 to 2/3/08. The main objective of the exercise was to collect the biophysical data that will assist in formulating the recommendations for improved soil quality, nutrient availability and productivity. The sites were characterized in terms of observable soil characteristics such as slope, colour, depth, texture, and compactness. These characteristics helped in making quick decision on the possible soil units. These characteristics, to a certain extent, relate to non-observable soil characteristics that must be determined in the laboratory. Where there were marked differences in soil conditions, soil and tissue samples were taken for laboratory determinations. The results show both uniformity and sharp variations in soil conditions in some areas. The main challenge in management lies where there are variations in soil conditions in the same farmers' fields, such that such variation have a serious implication on management. This means that different soil units occur in the same fields and each unit differ from any other adjoining units to the extent that it will respond differently to management. Other challenges are in the area with special problems such as high ground water table, salinity, sodicity and compaction in the subsoil. However, there are cases in which farmers have, over years, developed appropriate mechanisms to cope with some of the observed biophysical constraints with good potential for sustainable agriculture. Such innovative practices should be incorporated in the long-term development agenda. In addition to this, technologies being developed in the demonstration plots should address all the critical problem issues identified on the farms. Based on these findings, the following are recommended as the way forward: