Upon returning back to site after some bodacious 4th of July festivities with fellow PCV’s in Kaolack, I found my 500-tree tree nursery devoured by the family donkey. 100 Moringa olinifera, 300 Acacia senegalensis, and 100 Acacia liata met their digestive fate when my little brother failed to tie up Omar Diouf, our donkey.
Undeterred, I quickly assembled new seed. My family and I took advantage of the recent deluge of rain in the region. We switched to the basic technology of direct seeding which is simply, um, seeding directly into the ground (as opposed to out planting trees from a nursery). Direct seeding is equally wrought with potential problems such as animal browsing, weed competition, and a somewhat short time frame to establish, but results are possible. I also prefer direct seeding as it requires low inputs (in this case, the cost of tree sacks and using valuable compost and other organic components), adheres to principle numero uno of Conservation Agriculture – minimally disturbs soil, and takes relatively little time away from field crop time.
We also planted roughly 500 ultra-painful Sisal around the family field 100 cm apart. In addition to the benefit of all the rain, most farmers tie up their animals so they don’t graze on other community member’s fields. So, bonus, we have yet another reason to continue establishing the first live fence in the community. Wish us luck (and rain).
Bonus material -How does one direct seed?:
- Select seed appropriate for application. In this case, a living fence with seeds planted 20 cm apart, two per hole. Direct seeding also applies to alley cropping, vegetable production, and Conservation Agriculture techniques.
- Clear weeds from installation area
- Dig either Zai holes, planting pits, or using a stick to jab a hole to install seed
- Cover with soil. Amend if amendments available.
- Pray for rain
- Weed every few weeks. Leave weeds on surface as mulch or add them to compost pile. The soil around their roots is loaded with juicy, life starting bacteria ideal for composting.
- Prune plants to promote dense, thick growth capable of stopping monkeys, cows, goats, and other field grazers.