Stuart Barden in Kenya

Friday, December 1, 2017

We have had some deposits in the bank (Moisture bank)

As the graph shows, we have had some rain in late October and then a decent bit in the middle of November, these rains are know as the "Short Rains" they usually fall over the month of November.
The "Long Rains" fall from about the 20th of March to the 20th of May, not really long except by comparison to the short.
We received 49.5 mm for October which did little for our soil moisture although 155mm in November  has our soil moisture probe reading 37% or so at the moment.
Our saturated soil % is around 50%, with the "lower Readily Available Water" (LRAW or Wilting point) being an average of around 18% over all the soil depths.
In our soil type plants are able to extract down to 30% (LRAW) at 80 cm deep, whereas at 20cm the plants can use down to around 12% (LRAW).i.e deeper you go the harder it is for the plants to "pump" water up.
We are a good chance of filling up our soil moisture before March when we will plant our next crop given some more rain which can arrive anytime before then.  

Thursday, November 2, 2017

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Wonderful few days at Sosian Lodge

                                                               Kids Camel Train
                                                          Jonny Barden enjoying a ride
                                                       Found this Leopard having a rest, quite amazing to see him up close.
 

Friday, July 14, 2017

2017 major field day

We held our major field day yesterday, we had 223 people attend.
Annie and her team did a great job of catering for morning tea and lunch.
Our guest speakers did a great job as well as "team Ausquest" well done to you all.
We also recieved a totally unsolicited donation to our trials and field day operation from a farming family in central NSW, this funded our 2017 major field day and part of our trials for 2018.
My hope is that our field days provides a small spark inside those attending that opens up oportunity for themselves as well as others.

Friday, June 23, 2017

NDVI imagery

We had the team from "Crop Nuts" out this week to do some NDVI images.
They "flew" one 425 ha field of Desi and Kabuli chickpeas.
They will present the images in poster for at our Agronomy field day coming up shortly.
Thanks to Nick from Hardi Kenya for providing the aircraft.

Friday, May 26, 2017

First field day using 100% Kamba language (Samson spoke)



We had 46 smallholder farmers visit today, great group, Ausquest's Samson did all the talking in the Kamba language.
We looked at our commercial chickpea crop then we visited our Admin managers crop of yellow beans.
Showing that it's possible to practice conservation farming on a 1 hectare field and produce great crops.
David's yellow beans look very good considering we have only recieved about 50% of our annual rainfall to date. 

Great visit yesterday from Strathmore Business School


Forage Sorghum X Sudan grass trials moving along


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

2017 planting in progress

We started planting a week or so ago, running 24 hours with a fairly smooth run, sort of dry planting although we recieved 10 to 14mm last week which was neither your arm or your elbow. (Not dry but not really moist enough either)
Clouds building up each day and so Friday would be a great day for the long rains of 2017 to start, I have put my order in.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

On Farm Road Building


With our land sitting weed free in fallow, we are building a 3km access road while we have a moment.
We dug the black soil out of this creek crossing down to gravel/Murrum and then put 270 ton of large rock as a base, then topped it with crusher dust.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Next years crop water is in the bank (moisture bank)

This screen shot (click on it to expand) is from a moisture probe located in a field that grew Mung Beans (Green Grams) in 2016, harvested in Aug 2016.
The graph shows that there was exactly the same % of moisture in the soil profile at 60cm on 10th of November 2016 as there was on the 1st of Sept 2016, you will see a small increase around mid November as we had 132mm over the second half of Nov which found its way down.
People are sometimes sceptical about the medium to long term capacity of these heavy black cracking soil to store water over time, tool's like this help us learn so much about soil moisture, infiltration rates and so much more.
Our soil can hold a lot more water although only time will tell how much we end up with, we will aim to plant in the first 15 days of March, the long rains usually come between the 20th of march and the 1st April. (the long rains happens over 50 days most years) i.e start around the 20th March and finish on around 10th of May.

Friday, December 9, 2016

A New Season Begins



After zero rain from the 10th June to the 10th of November we have recieved 132mm of rain for November, this has added some valuable soil moisture and caused plenty of weeds to emerge.
We are spraying these at present and looking forward to planting our next crops in March 2017.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Started harvesting Chickpeas

We started harvesting our latest (Desi) chick pea crop a few days ago, they are yielding between 1.3 and 1.4 t ha which considering we had zero in crop rainfall is quiet Ok.
The quality is very nice and they will be on supermarket shelves soon.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Japanese visitors to the farm last week

 

Visit from some farmers from Northern Kenya


We had a great visit from some farmers from Northern Kenya a week or so ago, lots of discussion and great interest in conservation farming, the top photo is us looking at Kabuli chickpeas and the bottom is of the latest Desi chickpeas that were planted in mid June.