Our last article discussed sustainable agriculture in Nigeria. And this article looks forward to explaining the various sustainable agricultural practices in Nigeria and how we can actually put them into practice.
The question is, How do we practice sustainable agriculture in Nigeria?.No doubt, the country’s agricultural sector has suffered a significant setback and constraint in the past years. The need to promote a more sustainable agriculture practice in the country is of utmost importance. With sustainable agriculture, we would solve social issues such as poverty, unemployment, food insecurity, hunger, malnutrition, and other associated problems on the rise in our country.
We don’t need to break the bank to practice sustainable agriculture. Engaging in an integrated management plan that uses the principle of nature, a more organic and environmentally friendly agricultural input and practices is a simple key in achieving this.
Thinking of how to go about sustainable agriculture practices, here are a few highlighted best and cost-effective agricultural or farming practices you need to know.
This is one of the key aspects of sustainable agriculture practice. No matter how small your farm is, practicing integrated agriculture is one way to go about sustainable agriculture. This way, you can use all nutrients and even convert what we normally consider as waste to healthy nutrients. A typical example is the integrated livestock and crop production. Where one can use animal wastes as manure for crops instead of chemical-based fertilizers; in return, the crop leftovers can also serve as meals for the animals. According to researchers, these practices can be more efficient and even more profitable.
Planting cover crops:
One of the most effective sustainable agricultural practices in Nigeria is the use of cover crops. Cover crops such as legumes and cereals are not just economically viable but have the potential of protecting the soil, preventing erosion, controlling weeds and pests, thereby reducing the use of pesticides and herbicides. It also helps to replenish soil nutrients. Planting cover crops like cow-pea and millet immediately after harvesting other crops has proven to be an effective way of improving soil nutrients.
Reduction of tillage practices:
Tillage practice might seem to be an easy way of preparing our soil for planting or controlling weeds, but in the actual sense, tillage exposes our soil to harsh environmental conditions. Practicing no-till (i.e., not tilling/plowing the ground) or strip tillage (i.e., using minimum tillage) remains one of the best farming practices. It helps prevent erosion and improve soil fertility and nutrients.
This is an ancient practice and one of the traditional farming systems in Nigeria. It involves planting different crops sequentially on a particular piece of land across a growing season. This sustainable agriculture practice helps to improve soil fertility/health, replenishes soil nutrients. And is highly effective in weed and pest control. Other related techniques include mixed cropping(i.e., planting two or more crops on the same pieces of land at the same time).
Systematic pest management:
Integrated pest management practices such as mechanical and biological pest control are one of the systematic ways of controlling the pest population. This farming practices helps in reducing the use of chemical pesticides that can damage soil nutrients/viability.
We remove several trees during land clearing/preparation, but planting trees/shrubs in our farms is an excellent agroforestry practice. It helps to provide natural shelter/shade for our plants, animals, and water resources. We also known trees to be great windbreakers and contribute primarily to oxygen production, not forgetting trees is also a potential source of income.
Rotational grazing/Pasture-based livestock farming
This involves putting livestock on grass or in another natural environment, where they can roam freely, eat the plants or insects they naturally digest, and improve soil fertility with their manure. It is a way of raising animals in a humanly possible way, and meat and dairy products, pasture-raised animals, are healthier and more nutritious. Sustainable livestock production encourages well-managed pasture, where animals can move and graze freely.
Sustainable agricultural practices are unique to various agricultural sectors. Identifying and understanding the best approach that suits your farm and sector is very important. It’s not always easy to know how sustainability principles and practices might work from one operation to the next. The expertise of producers is invaluable when coming up with innovative, practical, and sustainable solutions to agricultural challenges.
In conclusion, sustainable agriculture remains the key needed to enhance food security in Africa. With the right policies, government-private collaboration, science-driven industry innovation, good animal health, and welfare. And other sustainable/more efficient agricultural practices can achieve more resilient agriculture that increases investment return and income, and future viability.