The climate is changing and it seems that farmers in Zambia can expect more dry spells in future. With the help of K2 Seed Marketing it is possible to plan ahead to ensure that you can feed your animals and continue with production even when circumstances are not ideal.
Kebby Nalishebo, Pasture Specialist of K2 Seed Marketing, says in the past small-scale farmers relied on natural grazing to provide feed for their animals, but they are slowly moving towards better management systems by planting grass and fodder crops for grazing, hay and silage.
“At Agritech we explain to people that we are not here only to sell seed. We are here to help people to choose the right crops, prepare the soil, take care of the crops and how to cut or use it,” he says.
Grasses like Blue Buffalo, Ermelo and Rhodes grass can be used for permanent pastures, also in the drier areas to the south. White Buffalo grass is more suited for high rainfall areas. All these grasses should be planted during the rainy season, but with proper care they can last a number of seasons. The grass can be used for grazing or to cut hay and make bales.
Kebby says with the support of the government they are planting demonstration plots in many different places. “We are showing people how to conserve moisture, and when to plant and cut.”
Two of K2 Seed Marketing’s high yield feed crops are Nutrifeed and Sugargraze.
Nutrifeed is a babala type grass with broad leaves used for grazing or silage. It can grow to more than 3 metres high and has excellent regrowth potential. It is widely adapted to most soil types and, depending on your type of soil and moisture levels, you can plant 3 to 8 kg/ha of seed for dry land production and 8 to 15 kg/ha under irrigation.
Depending on you production practices, you can expect a yield of 5 to 25 t/ha dry material.
Sugargraze is a sweet sorghum and it can be planted for silage or “cut-and-carry”. It has a high sugar content, between 12 and 18% protein and cattle love it. It grows to between 2 and 3,5 metres tall with thick stems and long leaf blades.
Dry matter production can be between 5 and 20 t/ha. It is mostly used for silage, but it can survive through the winter and provide grazing.
Kebby says once small-scale farmers understand the value of silage, there is no turning back and you do not need expensive equipment to make it. K2 Seed teaches people to make silage pits with plastic linings.
“You need a machete and a few hands,” he explains. “Someone to cut, someone to take it to the pit and someone to step on it to press the air out. Then you cover the pit and leave it for two months before using it.”
Another excellent source of nutrients is lucerne. Again K2 Seed can help with the best seed and advice for your circumstances. “For lucerne, you really need irrigation, but then you only need a small area to produce a lot of feed,” Kebby says.
Plan and manage your feeding programme with the help of K2 Seed Zambia. Contact Kevin Kleemann Wright at +26 (0)97-776-2111 or +26 (0)21-184-0965 or e-mail email@example.com for more information.