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composting for small scale farmers


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									Composting for Small Scale Farmers

      November 2012 – Accra, Ghana

              Andre Eitner
                    Kenya Tea Producers
• Much of Kenyan Tea Production organised under
  KTDA (Kenya Tea Development Association)
• 65 Tea Factories – between 5.000 and 13.000
  Farmers per Factory
• Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance certified – much
  of the product goes to the UK (and Lipton
• Farmers already well organised – good support
• Nonetheless – Great variability in yields and soil
  management practices
•   KTDA Kiegoi Tea Factory Maua, Meru
•   Fairtrade & Rainforest Alliance certified
•   13.000 farmers in 6 catchments
•   Funded by Tesco PLC
•   Organized by Fairtrade
•   Goal:
    – Increase yield per bush / year
    – Decrease dependency of fertilizer – save money
    – Lower the Carbon Footprint
• Compost & Compost Tea Application
• Great Success:
  – Factory & Extension Staff enthusiastic
  – Good adoption rate by farmers
  – More than 600 people trained
  – Initial results show yield increase by up to 50 %
                          Baseline Scenario
• Factory had one of the lowest yields /
  bush in Kenya
• Below 1 Kg vs. 1.25 Kg Kenyan
   – Climatic reasons
   – Farm management reasons
   – Other crops like Khat compete
• Farmers following Government
  suggestions for fertilizer application
  (50 Kg N / 700 Bushes)
• But only a few farmers used manure
  or compost
                                                                Baseline Findings


                                                                                         Average. 26% lower N/kgTea ratio
                                                                                                               no Compost
N units/kg Tee

                 0.06                                                                                          Compost



                        1   3   5   7   9   11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49 51
                                                  Number of assessed small-farmers

       To achieve the same yield, these 20 small-scale farmers applied in
        total 26% less nitrogen, taking into consideration the compost
        embedded available nitrogen.
                           Project Approach
• 1 year time span:
  – Started December 2011 with survey
     • 60 farmers asked about yields, fertilizer application,
       household income, money spent on fertilizers and
       available biomass (cattle, bananas, other)
  – Based on this survey we developed a
    management & implementation plan
     • 6 catchment areas: Local chiefs farms to be used as trial
     • 1st round of training happened in February: Compost
                        Project Approach
• April 2012: 1st Monitoring Visit to check on
  progress & problems
• June 2012: 2nd round of training:
   – Compost now mature – ready to be used in Compost
   – Trained 300 farmers on how to produce compost tea
     and how to apply it
   – Additional compost trainings were conducted by
     extension staff
• October / December 2012 Monitoring Visits and
Meet Anthony
                        1st Workshops
• In 3 days we trained 300 farmers how to
  produce compost:
  – Only materials from their farm
  – Community Effort
  – Compost needs to be adapted to local
• Most Importantly:
• It has to be fun
Compost Dance !
                      Principles of CMC
• Regular Controlled Microbial Composting (CMC)
  follows the same principal like the production of
  compost for compost starter but less biomass
  and microbial diversity is required.
• To stimulate microbial diversity, the compost
  starter is used.
• Collect each 1m3 per biomass category:
  brown/dry straw or woody; green/fresh leafy;
• As many different sources as possible
                     Principles of CMC
• The ideal size of a static microbial compost is
  2-3 meters width, 1.25-1.7 meters height and
  a minimum of 5 meters but up to 100 meters
• Decide about a width/height ratio and
  prepare the ground to be flat and the long-
  side orientation of the windrow to be in the
  direction of the wind
                             Principles of CMC
• Build the compost windrow putting at least three layers
   – dry/brown
   – manure
   – green/fresh and old compost/clay in this sequence,
     starting with dry/brown in the bottom.
• The ratio per input material category should be
   – for tea growers
      • 40% dry/brown, 30% green/fresh, 20% manure and 10% old
   – vegetable farmers
      • the dry/brown fraction should be reduced to 35% or 30% while the
        green/fresh fraction should be increased to 35% or 40%
                        Principles of CMC
• Add activated compost starter or compost after 2-3
  weeks of compost starter production in each layer
  between the manure and the green/fresh material
• Pre-wet all materials if possible, particularly the
  dry/brown materials. Add about 100 liters of water per
  1 m3 of input material during the windrow setup and
  200-300 liters of water per m3 of input material during
  the first 3 weeks of the composting process
• Compact the windrow at the end, forcing it into a
  triangular shape at the intended width/height ratio
                      Principles of CMC
• Cover the windrow with a 5cm thick layer of
  straw or with a semi-permeable fleece type
  textile. Don’t use plastic to cover the windrow!
• As of week 4 of the composting process start
  measuring the moisture content of the compost
  twice per week by squeezing a handful of
  compost in your hand. If one drop comes out, the
  moisture content is correct. If no drop comes out,
  you must add water. If it is too wet, try to
  manually lift the windrow to increase the airflow.
                      Principles of CMC
• After 12 weeks the compost should be finished.
  Under cold or dry weather conditions the
  composting process may take longer
• In case you use straw as a cover for the windrow,
  the outer side of the straw will not decompose
• After 8 weeks a granular, dark and well structured
  compost material should be visible with a typical
  forest soil odor and good moisture content as
  indicated above
                      Principles of CMC
• The inside core temperature of the windrow
  should be ambient
• To check the absence of volatile gases, other
  toxins or weed seeds, a sensitive fast growing
  plant such as watercress (lat. Name: Lepidium
  sativum) or a fine salad can be planted in a small
  pot of compost
• Apply water and if it grows properly, doesn’t turn
  yellow and no other weeds are growing within a
  week, the compost is ready for use.
The Team
                     2nd Workshop
• Compost Tea,
  Activation and
• 300 Farmers
• Even Farmers not
  part of the
  program came to
  get their share
Young Organics in Kenya
                        2nd Workshop
• Why Compost Tea?
  – After the composting process a stable humus
    complex should be the result
  – Stable, but also rather inactive
  – Microbes have worked hard and are dormant
• How to wake them up?
  – Cold Shower
  – Some Breakfast
  – Fresh Air
Compost Tea/Starter

                         Compost Tea
• Equipment:
  – Extraction Unit
  – Water Tank
  – Compressor
  – Compost
  – Sugar
  – Electricity for compressor
  – Or:
  – Foot pump and a couple of good friends
                           Extraction Unit
                                     Lid to close pipe
Attach Pipe to Tank

                                    Water Compost Mix
                                    comes out here

                                    Compost & Sugar

   Compressor with Hose
   Attached here, pushes            Sieve to prevent compost
   Water and Air through            from falling out
Unit in Action
                          Compost Tea
• Please adhere to the following approach to
  produce – for example – 200 Litres of
  Compost Tea:
  – Prepare your 210 L barrel in such a way that the
    extraction unit can be firmly attached to the wall
    of the barrel. The outlet windows of the extraction
    unit need to be covered in water and if not firmly
    attached the moving air-water mix could
    compromise the position of the unit during the 8-
    hour extraction process.
                        Compost Tea
– Fill the water tank until the extraction windows
  are covered by water, but the top of the unit isn’t
  (between 190-200 L).
– Fill the extraction unit with compost in such a way
  that it is well filled but not too compressed. You
  want the air-water mix to able to penetrate the
– Add 0.5 Kg of sugar to the compost in the unit.
– Attach compressor hose to the bottom of the unit.
                           Compost Tea
– Sink unit in water until extraction windows are
  covered. Switch on the compressor to test air-water
  flow before attaching the extraction unit firmly against
  the barrel wall. You should now see air bubbles
  coming out of the outlet windows and the water
  should start colouring brownish.
– Let the unit run for 8 hours.
– After 8 hours your compost tea is ready. The water
  should now have a distinct brown colour and smell a
  bit like soil.
– Apply the compost tea within 48 hours using your
  back sprayer, for example.
                     Compost Tea Result
• The content of this
  tank is now 200 litres
  of highly potent,
  organic fertilizer
  sufficient for one
  application for 20
  hectares, if undiluted.
  More area can be
  covered if the tea is
  further diluted, but
  obviously the effect will
  then be smaller.
                        Compost & Tea
• The extract is now
  ready to be applied
  and you can use
  your normal back
  sprayers that you
  also use for NPK
  fertilizers or pest
  and disease
                         Compost & Tea
• Apply the compost tea slightly earlier than you
  would apply synthetic fertilizer but preferably
  after you applied solid compost if applicable.
  Apply above-mentioned concentration 3 times
  over four weeks.
• The ideal application would be as follows:
  – Apply compost next to the plant/roots
  – Spray compost tea on top of the solid compost
                          Compost & Tea
• Following this approach will make sure that also
  the nutrient availability in the solid compost
  increases as the compost tea is activating the
• This is however very labour intensive, as you
  would ideally apply 5 tons of solid compost per
  hectare every year before activating it by the
  extract. This is quite labour intensive, but farmers
  that follow this approach would see drastic
                       Compost & Tea
• A medium intensive form of application is to
  apply solid compost to those areas of your
  farm that you pruned recently or that have
  certain amounts of SOM. You should still
  consider applying the extract to your entire
                               Compost & Tea
• Following this approach will:
   – Increase the soil quality of your entire farm within one
     pruning cycle through solid compost
   – The breakdown rate of the pruning or other residues will
     be increased through the extract which will even speed up
     the soil improvements
   – The nutrient availability to the plants will increase – most
     in the areas where solid compost has been applied
   – You can replace expensive chemical fertilizers partly if
     following this approach
   – Your soil and therefore your farm will be healthier and
     more productive
                       Results of Project
• Final Results yet to be confirmed, but:
  – Up to 50% increases in yield are reported
• Above all:
  – We trained 600 farmers
  – We trained 6 extension staff
  – Other KTDA factories already went to study the
• We hope to have built a cluster of excellence
  in Maua, Kenya
             Thank You

29/11/2012     www.soilandmore.com   42

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