Twenty-three titles have been published in this series, designed as handbooks for intermediate level agricultural education and training. They may be purchased as a set or as individual documents.
1. The way to work. The living plant
2. The plant – the root
3. The plant – the stem
4. The plant – the leaf
5. The plant – the flower
6. The soil – man and the soil
7. The soil – how the soil is made up
8. The soil – the living soil – working the soil
9. The soil – working the soil (continued)
10. The soil – conserving the soil – improving the soil
11. Animal husbandry – introduction
12. Animal husbandry – feeding animals
13. Animal husbandry – looking after animals – how cattle reproduce
14. Animal husbandry – what cattle produce
15. Keeping chickens
16. Food crops
17. Market gardening
18. The oil palm
20. Upland rice
21. Wet paddy or swamp rice
Published by arrangement with the Institut africain pour le développement économique et social
FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS
© French edition, lnstitut africain pour
le développement économique et social (INADES) 1967
© English edition, FAO 1970
This manual is a translation and adaptation of “Le sol -le travail du sol (suite),” published by the Agri-Service-Afrique of the Institut africain pour le développement économique et social (INADES), and forms part of a series of 23 booklets. Grateful acknowledgement is made to the publishers for making available this text, which it is hoped will find widespread use at the intermediate level of agricultural education and training in English-speaking countries.
It should be noted that the original texts were prepared for an African environment and this is naturally reflected in the English version. However, it is expected that many of the series — a list of which will be found on the inside front cover — will also be of value for training in many other parts of the world. Adaptations can be made to the text where necessary owing to different climatic and ecological conditions.
Applications for permission to issue this manual in other languages are welcomed. Such applications should be addressed to: Director, Publications Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Via delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy.
The cover illustrations were prepared by Asun Balzola.
• Choosing the fields to be Cultivated
Removing tree stumps
How to clear the land and remove stumps
Tools needed for tilling
Depth of tillage
How to plough
Other ways of working the soil
When to plough
When to sow
How to sow
Sowing in rows
• Looking after the crops
How to get the water
How to irrigate
How to make use of rainwater
• Suggested question paper
• Read pages 4 to 7.
• How do people choose their fields in your village? Can all the crops be grown everywhere?
• Take a good look at the fields:
Are the harvests better when the tree stumps are removed?
How is clearing done where you live?
Is the herbage burned instead of being left to rot?
• Reread pages 4 to 7.
• Read pages 8 to 14.
• Take a look at tillage done with the hoe and tillage done with the plough.
Which is done more quickly?
Which is better done?
Is tillage done at the right time?
• Take a good look at a plough and the way it works, how it turns the soil over on the grass.
• Reread pages 4 to 14.
• Read pages 15 to 24.
• Looking at sowing: broadcast
in seed holes.
Why should sowing be in rows, and how is it done?
• Is the work of looking after the crops well done and at the right time?
• Read pages 25 to 29.
• Is irrigation practised where you live?
Can it be done?
How to get the water in a less tiring way.
• Take a look at all the work done on the soil and try to find ways to improve this work.
• Reread the whole booklet.
• Answer the question paper.
The farmer must choose carefully the field he means to cultivate.
1. The right to cultivate is limited by law and defined by custom.
The law protects certain land. Cultivating such land without a permit is forbidden.
Examples of such land are classified forests and game reserves.
According to custom, the village headman gives the right to cultivate.
2. The farmer chooses the field which is best for the crop he wants to grow. That means:
• a sandy soil for groundnuts and coconuts,
• a clay soil for rice,
• a soil that does not hold water for cotton, sweet potatoes, yams.
You must know the soil before growing a crop.
Before growing a crop on a field, you must clear the land and remove tree stumps.
In traditional farming the farmer clears the land.
3. To clear the land means removing weeds and grasses and cutting down small trees.
4. But not all plants are removed. Trees are left standing if they:
• are too big
It is not easy to cut and remove big trees such as the baobab, or the kapok tree.
• are useful
For instance, if they provide food for people or animals, such as the oil palm.
If they protect and enrich the soil especially in savanna country.
If they give shade; cocoa, coffee and pepper, for example, grow best in the shade.
• can be sold
There are trees that can be sold, for firewood or for making furniture, or for export.
5. If the land is not well cleared, if too many plants are left, the harvests are less good, because the crop plants have to share food with the plants left in the field.
if the land is well cleared, if only a few plants are left, the harvests are better.
The crop plants can use all the food in the soil.
In modern farming tree stumps are removed.
6. When a tree is cut down, part of the trunk and the roots are left.
This is the stump. New shoots may grow on the stump.
7. Stumps may be useful. Often the tree remains alive when the stump is left.
When the field is left fallow, the tree may grow again more quickly. The shoots get bigger.
8. But the stumps prevent farming with animal power.
• Tools such as hoe and plough are often damaged and twisted by the big roots.
• It is not possible to sow in rows (see paragraph 32).
• The stumps go on taking food from the soil.
Around stumps crops are often less good.
So it is better to remove the stumps.
9. The tools needed.
To clear the land and remove stumps use a thick and very strong hoe or axe.
Use animal power or mechanized equipment to pull out the stump.
10. The way to do it.
When there is a lot of herbage, put it in a pile to make it rot.
This organic matter will give humus to the soil. Cut down small trees and burn them, or put them in a heap to rot.
Then they will also give humus.
The bigger trees must also be cut down. Take the wood to the village to burn. But the stumps must be pulled out.
Then the field is ready for cultivation.
11. Hard but necessary work.
Clearing the land and removing stumps needs a lot of work.
But this work is necessary to get a better crop and earn more.
If the clearing and stump removing are well done, you can use animal power, and practise continuous cultivation.
After a fallow, the new work of clearing will be much easier. The big trees will not have grown again.
If the work is well done the first time, all later work will be easier.
Tilling means turning the soil over.
12. Tilling enables water and air to get right into the soil.
It loosens the soil.
13. Tilling buries herbage in the soil; it cleans the soil.
The herbage then rots and makes humus.
14. When the soil is tilled fertilizers and manure are mixed with it.
15. Tilling, turning over the soil, can be done with a digging hoe, spade or spading fork.
But this work is slow and tiring.
16. Nowadays a simple plough is used, drawn by donkeys or oxen.
The plough consists of a ploughshare, a mouldboard and two handles.
17. The ploughshare cuts a strip of earth.
The mouldboard turns this strip over.
18. Look at the following drawing:
The ploughshare cuts a strip of soil 10 to 15 centimetres (cm) thick.
The tillage is said to be shallow when its depth is from 10 to 15 cm. If the cultivable layer is not deep, the tillage has to be shallow. By this means the poor soil below is not brought to the top.
19. Look at the following drawing:
Tillage is said to be normal when the depth of tillage is 20 cm.
With normal tillage the soil can be turned over and the remains of plants can be well buried.
20. Different animals and different ploughs are needed for different kinds of tillage.
With oxen deeper tillage is possible than with donkeys.
With a wide ploughshare the width of tillage can be greater.
21. How to measure 10, 15 or 20 centimetres.
If you have no rule, the measurements can be taken
• with this booklet. It is just over 20 centimetres high and almost 15 centimetres wide.
• with your hand. An open hand is about 20 centimetres long.
22. Make a first furrow with the plough across the whole length of the field.
At the end of the field, turn.
Make a second furrow alongside the first.
The second strip of ploughed field joins the first.
After that, keep turning round that double strip of ploughed field.
In conventional ploughing the field is marked out with a series of ridges, about 20 metres apart. Furrows are then ploughed between each pair of ridges.
23. If the soil is very light, ploughing is not necessary.
Instead, use implements with tines.
They stir the soil without turning it over.
24. To dig the soil the tines are long and narrow.
To cut herbage, use wider tines.
With oxen, and if the soil is not too hard, use 5 to 8 tines.
With only one donkey, and if the soil is hard, use fewer tines, say 3 to 5.
Ploughing can be done after harvest or after the first rains.
25. After harvest, during the dry season, if the soil is not too hard.
Then the first rains will fall on soil already loosened, on soil that has been opened up.
The rain will penetrate easily and less water will be wasted.
26. After the first rains.
Sowing must be done as quickly as possible.
Then the plants can make use of all the water.
If you plough after the first rains you can sow at the right time.
27. Ploughing often does not leave the soil flat. There are clods of earth that must be broken up before sowing.
The harrow is used to do this. It is used a great deal in rice fields, both before and after sowing.
28. When the soil is well prepared, seed can be sown. In savanna country especially, seed should be sown at the beginning of the rainy season. If seed is sown very early, the plants will grow up before they are hindered by weeds.
29. Farmers have the habit of sowing in seed holes.
With a stick or a hoe the farmer makes a little hole, drops in several seeds and covers them with soil. Some seed, such as rice, is broadcast; that is, it is thrown into the air and falls all over the place. Then a harrow is drawn to mix it with the soil.
30. But the seed falls anywhere.
Sometimes the plants are too close together and get in each other’s way when growing.
Sometimes the plants are not close enough. They do not make full use of the soil.
With broadcast sowing it is not possible to get a good density (see Booklet No. 2, paragraph 35).
31. By sowing in rows you can:
• get weeds out more easily: the animal drawing the cultivator can walk between the rows;
• give each plant the same amount of fertilizer;
• apply water when necessary.
It is better to sow in rows.
The rows are made with a marker.
Then the seed is sown in the rows at an equal distance.
On a slope these rows are made across the slope to stop erosion.
32. As an example take groundnuts:
Leave 80 cm between rows.
Leave 15 cm between seeds.
There are about 85 000 groundnut plants to the hectare.
Certain plants such as cotton and millet are sown in seed holes.
Seed holes, too, must be made in rows.
By that means you can be sure of good density, you can get rid of weeds and apply pesticides more easily. For planting in rows, you can use a spacing wheel or a seed drill.
33. Spacing wheel.
This can be made of wood or iron.
Each tooth makes a little hole in the soil.
Put one or more seeds in each hole.
Then cover the seeds with a little earth, either with the hoe or your foot.
34. Seed drill.
In several countries, people are beginning to use seed drills.
These are drawn by a donkey or by oxen.
The seed drill makes a furrow and places the seeds in the soil at the same distance from each other and at the same depth.
35. Certain plants are first sown in a nursery.
In a nursery you can sow quite thickly.
When the seeds have germinated, when the plants have grown a little, they are lifted and planted out in the fields.
They are transplanted.
Tobacco, tomatoes, salad plants, rice and many trees, such as oil palm, mango, avocado, are first sown in a nursery and then transplanted.
36. Good transplanting.
Plants are lifted from the nursery.
But before replanting them in the field, they must be prepared.
Cut off roots that are too long.
Cut off damaged roots.
Remove surplus leaves.
Pack the earth well round the roots.
37. Bad transplanting.
The roots have not been trimmed; they turn upward.
The earth has not been packed down; the roots may dry out.
If the transplanted seedling is not watered, it will not grow well.
38. Cassava is not sown. You put pieces of stem into the earth.
Cassava is planted.
You do not sow pineapples or bananas, you put shoots into the earth. Pineapples and bananas are planted.
This planting must also be done in rows, to get the right density and to get rid of weeds more easily.
39. Weeds stop seeds from growing well.
They take out of the soil the mineral salts that the crops need.
To get rid of weeds, intercultivation is needed.
40. You can cultivate with the hand hoe for chopping or with an animal-drawn cultivator.
Sowing in rows makes cultivation easier.
The cultivator has tines that cut the weeds between the seed rows.
41. You must cultivate whenever new weeds have grown.
For cotton and groundnuts cultivate three or four times.
42. With an animal-drawn cultivator you can get rid only of the weeds between the seed rows.
The weeds among the plants within a row are removed with the hand hoe.
43. Intercultivation must be done when the weeds are still small.
Then the work is easier and quicker.
Weeds are destroyed more easily while they are still small.
44. Leave the cut weeds to dry between the rows.
They rot and make humus.
They also protect the soil from erosion.
45. Earthing up, sometimes called ridging up, is putting earth round the crown of plants.
With certain plants (maize, millet) adventitious roots then grow in the mound of earth.
46. With some soils the surface gets hard after rain; a crust of earth is formed.
Water rises in the crust as it rises in lumps of earth (see Booklet No. 7, paragraph 58).
• The earth crust must be broken up to prevent the water rising.
This is the reason for hoeing.
• Rain that falls on a well-hoed soil goes in easily.
it does not run off the surface. It is not wasted.
• Hoeing is done with the hand hoe or with an animal-drawn hoe.
Intercultivation often serves two purposes: breaking up soil crust and getting rid of weeds.
47. Thinning is removing surplus plants.
When you sow in seed holes, four or five seeds are put in.
They grow together.
But there are too many of them. Some must be taken out.
Then the plants which are left can grow better.
As a rule the two best plants in each seed hole are left.
Thinning should be done when the plants have a few leaves, but before they are too big.
In pulling out the surplus plants, the soil is disturbed. So the soil must be packed down again round the plants that are left.
Thinning and the first cultivation are done at the same time.
48. When there is water to hand, from a stream, well or dam, it should be used as much as possible.
Using water on the crops is irrigation.
Irrigation makes possible better harvests and even makes it possible to grow crops without rain.
49. Water can be moved to the plants
• With a calabash or gourd
This takes a long time and is very tiring.
Only small fields can be watered.
• With a counterpoise lift (shadoof)
• With a rope-and-bucket lift
This uses animal power.
• With hand pump or motor-driven pump.
50. Ditches must be made to carry the water to the edge of the field.
The ditches must be kept well cleaned out, so that the water flows easily and is not wasted.
51. When the water reaches the edge of the field, good use must be made of it; it must not be wasted. All the plants must get water and the water should remain at the base of the plants.
Sometimes the whole surface of a plot is watered; at other times water is made to run between ridges.
52. By working the soil.
Tilling and hoeing prevent rain from being wasted and enable it to get right into the soil.
In that way water is well used.
All farmers can do this work.
Soils rich in humus hold water better.
They have a good reserve of water for plants.
53. By means of dams.
A dam makes it possible to store up the surplus water of the rainy season for use in the dry season. With the water from a dam, you can give the animals their drink, you can water the fields, and even raise fish.
Too often people say: The government should build a dam for us.
In many villages the farmers could get together and make a dam for themselves.
But remember that the extension service should first be asked for its advice.
54. Clay soils and the soil alongside streams are often covered with water.
They cannot be cultivated.
The surplus water must be made to run away, the soil must be drained.
55. How to drain.
Dig a ditch at the lowest place.
The water flows into this ditch.
Bit by bit the land alongside the ditch becomes dry and can be cultivated.
Often such soil is rich. Rice and market garden crops grow well.
Sometimes the land Is too wet and a number of ditches must be made.
56. As a rule harvesting is done by hand.
This work can be improved by using better tools, for example, three-pronged lifting forks for lifting cassava and a sickle for cutting rice.
57. To get a better price at harvest, separate what is of good quality from the less good. Grade your crops.
Separate the white cotton from the yellow cotton.
Take out the groundnut pods that are empty.
Take out spoiled grain, fruit that is rotten or eaten by insects.
If you do not sort the harvest, it will sell at the lowest price.
Grading your crops at harvest means that you will make more money.
If the land is not well cleared, the harvests are less good
Yes or No
A harrow is used for turning over the soil
Yes or No
Seedlings must be prepared before transplanting them
Yes or No
Cultivation must not be done until the weeds are big
Yes or No
Draining means taking away the surplus water
Yes or No
Tilling means __________ the soil.
If the cultivable layer is not deep the tilling has to be __________
Cassava and pineapple are not sown, they are __________
Rain that falls on well-hoed soil __________ easily.
The __________ stores up for the dry season the surplus water of the rainy season.
ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS
Why must tree stumps be removed?
What is tilling?
How is sowing done?
When must cultivation be done?
Can irrigation be done where you live? Why? How?
Describe how the land is worked where you live. At what time is it worked?
Is it easy to get land to cultivate where you live? Who gives the land?
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Better Farming Series, no.9. This handbook is designed for intermediate level agricultural education and training. This manual is a translation and adaptation of "Le sol: le travail du sol (suite)," published by the Agri-ServiceAfrique of the lnstitut africain pour le developpement economique et social (INADES), and forms part of a series of booklets. Grateful acknowledgement is made to the publishers for making this text available for English-language agricultural education and training.This illustrated manual focuses on working the soil. It covers how to choose fields for cultivation, clearing them of tree stumps, tilling, sowing, crop management, irrigation, drainage and harvesting.