2nd March 2014 – a start

Dear All,                                                                                                                                                      2nd March 2014

It looks as though I may have worked out how to write a Blog. I am hoping that this will get around the problem I was having with sending e-mails from my zamtel address. I am sorry that it has taken so long, but you know what it is.

The difference between this Blog and my weekly e-mail is that you have to sign up somewhere to receive it.  As a first step Google chomafarmnews.org (or .com). I think there should be this post and a box which you click for future posts to come to you.

I am sorry that I do not have ANY evaporation figures for you, but, with this Blog now functioning, I should get back into the routine.

Of course a lot has happened since I last wrote anything and I will have forgotten most of what seemed interesting at the time. But I do remember going to Mkushi and Kabwe with Dave Bradshaw. Mkushi was billed as ‘zero-til’ tobacco. It was a lovely crop, but it wasn’t zero-til; not even reduced tillage really. Kabwe was mechanized tobacco reaping. I know it was their first year, but it didn’t look very promising – the machines I mean – the crop was good enough. I also think that mechanization is NOT the way forward; perhaps we can use it to point out to government that there ARE mechanization options available, but that, if they stay out of wage negotiations the Tobacco Industry will employ as many people as it can possibly afford. If the government tries to push wages too high too quickly, the industry will cut back – on both employment, or production, or both.

Another thing from Kabwe was that, in tight tobacco rotations, it had been proposed to use a cover crop of 1/3rd pearl millet, 1/3rd Sorghum and 1/3rd Sunhemp. I have just planted my irrigated pivot to a Sorghum, Red Sunhemp, Siratro, Coopers Glycine, a little Stylo and Katambora Rhodes grass.  It will be in for four years (by which time both the sorghum and sunhemp will have gone) but I hope I will have a LOT of organic matter to plough in.  I am beginning to decide that we cannot do anything about the fact that tobacco farming kills organic matter – so I am going to concentrate on maximizing the organic matter produced during the ley. I will also try to master the art of rip and rome, so that I don’t turn too much of this organic matter too deep.

More next week,




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