Poultry Litter Beetle: Silent Killers

Litter beetles are those dark beetles you find in poultry houses, most especially in deep litter houses. They normally hide under everything – drinkers, feeders, stones, laying boxes that are on the floor, along the walls etc. In my early days of raising chickens, I totally ignore these beetles because I thought they were harmless. But are they harmless? They are VERY harmful!

Litter beetles

 

Litter beetles eat chicken feed, their larvae bore into insulations, woods etc, they climb into poultry feathers and bite them, sometimes killing weakened chickens and worst of all, they can carry a lot of poultry diseases!

 

The scientific name for these little destroyers is Alphitobius diaperinus. Locally, they can also be called darkling beetles, lesser mealworm, black beetles etc. They cause more problems in houses where the litter is allowed to build up without any effective control program in place.


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Burgundy mixture: Make Your Own Fungicide

Burgundy mixture is a simple diy copper fungicide that is effective against many fungi diseases in crops. It is a mixture of copper sulfate (CuSO4) and sodium carbonate (sodium bicarbonate, Na2CO3). It is also known as “sal soda Bordeaux”, not to be confused with Bordeaux mixture, which is a mixture of copper sulphate and hydrated lime (Ca(OH)2).

The chemicals listed here can be bought in places where Industrial or Chemistry lab chemicals are sold. But it is cheaper to buy from Industrial chemical sellers. In Anambra State, Nigeria, you can get them from Uga market, close to River Niger Bridge Head.

How to Make Burgundy Mixture

The amount of ingredients to use depends on the percentage of copper sulphate in the mixture. A 1% Burgundy mixture will contain 1% copper sulphate (that is, 1kg copper sulphate in 100 liters of water). Sodium bicarbonate is usually added at a higher
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How to Grow Plantain and Make Money: Part 3 of 3

This is part 3. If you haven’t read part 1 and 2, read them here: Part 1 and part 2.

Fertilizer and Manure Application:

After planting the suckers, I applied 20:10:10 fertilizer 1 month after planting. Dosage is 30ml per plant. By this time, new, white roots have started growing. I buried the fertilizer in a shallow hole 10-20cm away from the plants, making sure I don’t damage too much roots. Note: I applied Carbofuran (for nematode control) into the same hole with the NPK. More on Carbofuran later under “pesticide application” below.

Second NPK application can be made 2 months after planting, 50cm away from the plant. I used 30ml 20:10:10 per plant but those that were growing fast got 60ml.

About 1 month or so after the second NPK application, I planned applying organic manure at 11L pig manure per plant but I couldn’t get
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How to Grow Plantain and Make Money: Part 2

Readers note: This is a continuation of the part 1 series. It is important that you read part 1 before this. Thanks.

Peeled, chemically treated plantain corm. You can see the tunnel I made to reach the weevil inside.

Transporting Suckers:

Suckers are very bulky and transporting them over long distances can be a nightmare. You can reduce transportation cost by cutting the pseudostems in half. The larger the corm sizes, the greater the survival rate. Even if the pseudostem eventually dies, new suckers will emerge from the corm if you leave it for some weeks. Suckers with large corms can be cut off a few centimeters above the corm.

Chemical Treatment of Suckers: After peeling the corms, I wash them and using a knapsack sprayer, I spray a mixture of insecticides, fungicides and foliar fertilizer on the corm. But note, peel the corms outside
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How to Grow Plantain and Make Money Part 1 of 3

Spray tube irrigation in my plantain farm

I have grown crops like cucumber, pepper and okra and I know how much pesticides they can consume. Growing them large scale can be very expensive. While thinking of a low cost alternative, plantains or banana comes to mind (cassava and cocoyam are also cheaper to grow). I have 10 plots of land (rented) but since the past 3 years, half of it remained empty because I could not afford using it for expensive crops. So I decided to fill the empty plots with plantain and pawpaw. I will be writing about the pawpaw farm in another post.

Spray tube irrigation in my plantain farm Soil Requirements:

Plantain require a deep, well-drained soils  that are rich in organic matter. The plants will grow optimally in soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0. They need water to yield well. So plant them during the rainy season. If rainy season
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How to Grow Lemon Basil (Curry) and Make money

Lemon basil, popularly called “curry plant” is a herb with a sweet citrus fragrance. In Nigeria, it is popularly used in cooking stew. It has a lot of health benefits because of the minerals (magnesium, iron, manganese, copper, calcium,) and vitamins (rich in vit A and K) it contains. It also contains the compounds limonene and citral, which have some anti-inflammatory properties (i.e. ability to reduce redness, swelling, and pain in the body). Below is a guide, based on my experience, on how you can grow and make money with lemon basil. You can make lots of money from this during the dry season when tomatoes are cheap. But once tomatoes get scarce, demand falls because it is mainly used in stew. Because of this, it is not good to grow one type of vegetable. I grow green amaranth, scent leaf, fluted pumpkin (ugu) leaves in addition to curry.


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Growing Grass for Livestock: The Future of Livestock Farming in Africa

When it comes to ruminant farming, Nigeria still practice the archaic system of nomadic grazing and cut-and-carry system from bushes. In countries like Kenya, livestock farmers grow grass to feed their animals. Many Nigerians may find this laughable but it is far better than what we’re used to.

Growing your own grass means that you are sure that feed supply will be enough to meet your animals’ need. It is also hygienic. When I was young, we had some goats and I was the one that feed them. I normally went to bushes to cut grass. One thing that worried me so much is the eye-sores I normally encounter. I would always have to cope with the sight of human feces here and there. In fact, that was the main thing that discouraged me from goat farming.

Cattle grazing close to farmlands

Now that I have discovered
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How to Convert Food Waste to Nutritious Feed Via Lactic Acid Fermentation

Pay a visit to fresh fruit and vegetable markets and slaughter houses and you’ll see how much food get wasted daily. Unknown to many, these wastes can easily be converted to nutritious meal for pigs, poultry, goats, sheep, cows, rabbits, and fish by a process called lactic acid fermentation. All you need is a lactic acid bacteria, a source of fermentable carbohydrate and time. Don’t mind the complex names, you can easily get all of them.

Fruits, vegetables, fish and slaughter house wastes has very high water content and that makes them highly perishable. They can be treated in various ways but those ways can hardly compete with fermentation – they may be composted (time consuming), used in vermiculture (growing of earthworm) or biogas digesters (why use a valuable waste when you can use manure instead?) or fed directly to animals (they may contain pathogens and pesticides. There is
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Chemical Weed Control in a Cassava Farm

Do you know that weeds can cause over 50% yield loss? Weed control is very important in every crop farm. The trick is to control weeds until your crops form a canopy that covers the land. This will prevent light from reaching weeds and they won’t grow fast enough to be a problem. The trick is not to totally eliminate weeds – you can’t achieve that in a large farm – but to frustrate their growth to the point where they’ll not cause yield loss.

Manual weeding is time consuming and painfully laborious. It is not practical to weed hectares of farmland by hand. That is why successful farmers are known to use chemical weed control. It is far cheaper than manual or mechanical weed control.

You may be wondering which safe herbicide to use in your cassava farm. Some people have learnt the hard way in the past when
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My Commercial Cucumber Farming Experience

I have farmed cucumber twice. I started at a very small scale and then scaled up a little. This enabled me to learn the ropes and keep loss to a minimum. My first trial was a near disaster as diseases nearly wipe out everything. Second trial was better as I made a reasonable net profit (1.33 ROI but without including cost of fixed assets like knapsack sprayer, boot etc, ROI was about 2). Below are some of the things I learnt:

1. Humid Condition Attracts Diseases: I planted when the rainy season started. At the peak of rainfall when rain fall almost daily, disease struck. I suspects downy mildew. This disease first appear as yellow spots on the leaves which later turn brown. It expands and kill the whole leaves and the plants soon die. I knew little about fungicides when I started.

2. Fungicides are Important: I used mancozeb
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