Evaluation of soil and soil improvement methods for ginger production in Ntenjeru Subcounty
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Organic ginger production is one of the upcoming commercial farming systems in Uganda most prominent in the central part of the country. There was a growing concern about ginger production and its profitability in order for the farmers to invest in it in Ntenjeru sub country Mukono District, where it has been introduced. This study was carried out to evaluate soil and soil improvement methods for organic ginger production and identifying options for scaling up and out activities of commercial ginger production from plot to sub county level. The study had three major components of 1, experimentation on ginger production, 2, developing local soil quality indicators and soil classification and Soil and community boundary mapping using indigenous and scientific methods (GIS). Four sites were selected for experimentation for two seasons and one variety of ginger seed rhizomes was cut into small pieces of 2.5-5 cm each having one or two good buds planted in 3m x 3m plots treated with 3 types of organic fertilizers (compost , mulch, compost + mulch and control) applied at planting time and replicated three times. Plant spacing was 30cm within rows and 30cm between rows (African Organic, 2005). Plots were separated by 1m path. The manure was applied using recommended rates as follows: compost at 5-6 tons/ha and Mulches (saw dust) were applied at 10-12 tons/ha at planting and repeated at 5 tons/ha at 40 and 90 days after planting. Weeding was done two weeks after planting and every after three weeks up to harvesting time. Pest control measures were applied using organic powder recommended by African Organics at ½ kg mixed with 20 litres of water sprayed to the crop once in a day. The analysis of the experimentation results indicate no significant difference in yields across treatments where as there was a significant difference in yields across villages/sites. The cost benefit analysis revealed that all organic soil fertility treatments (compost, compost + mulch, mulch and control) were highly profitable at any given area. Nine villages were mapped using technical and indigenous knowledge and the results indicate that four scientific soil types were identified as including Acric ferrasols, gleysols, lixic ferrasols and leptosol. Areas with lixic ferrasols and acric ferrasols can support ginger production which requires medium loam soils with a good supply of humus where as areas with leptosol and greysols are not favorable for commercial organic ginger production. It was concluded that organic commercial ginger production is a viable business in the study area because of the high profits from all the organic soil fertility treatments and the suitability of soils.