Bush Fallowing and Organic Farming of Oil Bearing Melon Plant
Bush fallowing takes away some of the Burden in Organic Farming. It reduces cost and possible Liabilities that might result from the strict Regulations associated with Organic farming. Its application to the Egusi plant demonstrates how it is adaptable to organic farming of carefully selected seasonal Plants.
What is Bush Fallowing?
This is an Agricultural Practice where farmers cultivate a Piece of Land for one season and abandon it without any intention of returning to the same plot of Land. It is a subsistence Agricultural practice common to sparsely populated areas with large expanse of virgin Lands.
The concept of Bush fallowing is to allow the soil to naturally regain its nutrient after a period of Cultivation. It was very popular in the African rain forest, such as evident in small village farmers in Nigeria and Cameroun. Here, the forest floor is covered by dense vegetation of large Trees and thick Shrubs that shields the soil from direct rays of the sun, thus serving as a conducive habitat for both Vertebrates and Invertebrates.
Beneficial Soil Nematodes (especially the Earthworm) could have a cool environment to maneuver so that they can aerate the soil and increase its Humus content. Insects such as Crickets and Ants could also dig into the soil, aerate the soil and increase the soil nutrient. Herbivorous Vertebrates (like the Grass-cutter) could pass out Feces and cut down soft stems to hasten decomposition. Bush fallowing also conserves Soil Minerals by preventing soil leeching and soil erosion.
Video: How to grow an organic vegetable garden
What you should know about Organic Farming
Bush Fallowing and Organic Farming
While absolute Bush fallowing Technique tend to encourage farmers to completely abandon a cultivated piece of land, Shifting-cultivation allows the farmer to move from one farm-land to another with the aim of returning after some years. Here, a subsistence farmer can divide his plot of land into parts and cultivate them in rotation. Let's say a farmer decides to divide his plot of land into four parts, he could cultivate the first plot for a period of one Season, move to the second plot the next season, and the third, then the forth, and return to the first plot.
This kind of farming is essential to organic farms and organic vegetable gardens in terms of source of soil fertilizer. Both organic and inorganic fertilizers are not essentially needed because of the ability of the soil nutient to self-replenish. Also, change in the environment allows for series of transformation of habitat that helps to control some Pests.
Cultivation of Melon Plant
Although Bush fallowing is applicable to a wide range of seasonal Crops, the oil-bearing melon plant (Citrullus lanatus) could best describe the benefit of the practice. This melon plant, otherwise called Egusi in Nigeria and Cameroun, fits into a classical Garden Plant as also evident in some other Melon Plants like the Water-Melon. The combination Bush fallowing with Egusi cultivation is a win win situation for an organic farmer.
The tiny twigs of the plant (and it's appendages) helps to prevent soil erosion. It also has very wide leaves and creates dense vegetation that shields the soil from direct sunlight to create a conducive environment that is beneficial to soil organisms.
Cultivation of the Egusi plant becomes another session of soil enrichment after a period of fallowing. It helps to trap and drain water in a way that prevents leeching, and the entire vegetation finally crumbles and decompose immediately after maturity.
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