Land clearing

  LandLand clearing: before land is cultivated, it must be cleared of natural vegetation e.g. bush and forests.

A piece of land that has been cleared and made ready to receive planting materials is called a seedbed.

Objectives/ importance of seedbed preparation/ land clearing

  • To kill weeds by either burying them or exposing them to sunlight.
  • To improve o soil aeration.
  • To break the impervious layers of the soil so as to facilitate good water drainage.
  • To destroy the pests by interfering with their life cycle.
  • To get the right tilth for crops to be grown.
  • To level the ground so as to ensure uniformity of the level of the seedbed.
  • To incorporate fertilizers and manures into the soil.
  • To burry crop residues of the previous season for easy planting.
  • To loosen up the soil surface so as to facilitate water infiltration and planting.
  • To control soil erosion by preventing surface runoff especially where ridges are used.
  • To bring the leached minerals to the top soil by turning the soil.

NB: There are a number of operations carried out on virgin land. These include:

  • Bush and tree clearing.
  • Burning of stamps.
  • Stamping i.e. removal of stamps and roots.
  • Burning of stamps.
  • Arranging and removing trash.
  • Draining the land when it is swampy.
  • Leveling of the land and filling up the stump holes.
  • Laying out of contours in fields.
  • Ploughing and digging to remove weeds.
  • Pulverizing and digging to remove weeds.
  • Ridging and raking.
  • Removal of stones.
  • Making garden edges straight.

Methods of land cultivation

  • Hand/manual method.
  • Ox- cultivation.
  • Mechanical method
  • Hand/ manual method

This involves use of hand tools e.g. hoes, pangas, slashes, axes e.t.c. and the source of power is man.

Advantages

  • Creates employment
  • Cheap for small scale farmers.
  • Can be used in stony and hilly areas with less difficulty.
  • Requires no specific kills.

Disadvantages

  • Very slow method.
  • It only operates to a limited depth.
  • It is expensive for large scale farmers.
  • It is inefficient in hard soils/ thick vegetation.
  • Does not thoughly bury the vegetation.
  • Operations may be delayed until the ground is softened by rain and this delays the time of planting.
  • It is tiresome on a large scale.

Ox cultivation method

This involves the use of ox- drawn implements e.g. ox- plough. The main source of power in this method is farm animals e.g. bulls (oxen), donkeys.

Advantages

  • It is faster than the manual method.
  • It is cheaper on large scale farms.
  • It buries the vegetation better than the manual method.
  • Requires little skills.
  • More work can be done in a short time.
  • Land is ploughed at uniform depth.
  • Maintenance of the implements and their accusation is cheap.

Disadvantages

  • Cannot be used in hilly, stony or densely vegetated areas.
  • Requires enough pastures land for grazing the animals.
  • The areas used are limited by tsetse fly infection.
  • Animals are prone to epidemics/ diseases.
  • It takes time to train the animals and it is also risky.
  • The work output of the animal is affected by the health conditions of the animals.
  • The animals require soft light soils in order for them to work well.

Mechanical method

This involves the use of categorized machines e.g. tractors, bull dozers and their implements e.g. disc ploughs. The main source of power is fuel.

Advantages

  • It is quick/fast.
  • There is better burring of vegetation.
  • Cheap in the long run.
  • Efficient in its operations.
  • Land preparation is easily done on time.
  • It releases labor for other operations.

Disadvantages

  • Machines are expensive to buy.
  • Requires skilled labour to operate the machines.
  • Creates unemployment.
  • The use of machines especially the heavy ones can lead to compaction of the soil which interferes with water infiltration.
  • The machines ant their implements used are also expensive.
  • It is only economical on large scale farms.
  • The fume produced by machines pollutes the environment.