The joint farming of cassava and maize is a function of the farming practice known as INTERCROPPING.
Intercropping—the farming of more than one type of crop on a piece of land—is no novel practice to the agricultural world.
This system of intercropping has its fair share of benefits aside from the obvious advantage of having a means to maximize a piece of land to yield more than one product. They will be considered later in the article.
Though the planting of one type of crop has increasingly become the new norm (because of the renovation and upgrading of farm and methods), many still grow two or more crops today.
This article is based on the farming of such intercropped crops—cassava and maize.
Cassava and maize belong to different crop classifications, with cassava being a root crop, and maize being a seed crop. But intercropping allows both to grow together on one land.
Cassava is an important crop to Africa, and so is grown in several systems on a piece of land. When it is grown together with other crops—like maize in this article—it is like the main meal, while the other “smaller” crops are like the side dishes as “accompaniments”.
For such a farming arrangement, there is little room for the strengthening of either crop. However, for the fact that cassava is increasingly becoming a large, commercial commodity, some beneficial agronomic exercises can be introduced.
HOW CASSAVA AND MAIZE ARE INTERCROPPED IN THE SOIL
When the soil has been ridged in preparation for planting, the maize seeds are sown right on the ridge and not in the furrow or ridgeline. This is done because the earth on the ridge is better. Hence, the cassava and maize become closer to each other than they would ever have the opportunity to be on a land that’s flat.
Farmers who have experience and knowledge lookout for the most suitable area to place the maize so that it is not a source of threat to the cassava and is not also in the subsoil where it won’t germinate well.
That is the mechanism for the intercropping of cassava and maize.
Having so said, it has been pointed out that the market for cassava is growing daily as it is fast becoming a large commercial crop from which many processed products are now being made. Hence, the farming of cassava deserves great attention. Below are the best requirements for the planting/production of cassava:
- SOIL: The most suitable soil for the planting of cassava is an adequately drained one that isn’t too rocky or shallow. It doesn’t grow in very sandy, salty, muddy and swampy soil.
- RAIN: It needs a yearly rainfall of about 1000mm or more; that is, nothing less than 6 months of rain in one year, averaging at a minimum of 50mm every month.
- ZERO SPEAR GRASS INFESTATION: Cassava cannot germinate well where there is a bad case of the spear grass infestation, because they can go into the roots and cause it to get rotten. Herbicides can be used before soil preparation to destroy this infestation on time.
- THE MARKET: This is important to the crop in terms of the commercial aspect. The farmer has to know what the market needs are and if they can be made available, so the effort is not wasted or potential customers lost.
- MANAGEMENT EXPERTISE: It is easy to plant in the soil, but good management skills are required to ensure that disease doesn’t spread to the cassava crops through contaminated materials and uncontrolled weed and pests.
- PROCESSING: Consider the options available for the crop, its value in the locality, and if there are aids to the processing of it. This is also for the commercial aspect.
- POLICIES AND PERCEPTION: Commercially,also, the policies/laws for the crop’s production and marketing in the area should be assessed.Also, what do the people of the place believe about the crop? Will the crop and its processed products sell well based on their beliefs on gender or culture? Answers to those questions help the farmer plant and market circumspectly.
On the other hand, maize, called the “Queen of Cereals” because of its worldwide demand, has the following requirements for its planting:
- It is best grown in soils that have loamy to heavy clay texture, are properly aerated and have a neutral pH level.
- It doesn’t grow well in soils with bad drainage.
- Long-lasting temperature below 5 degrees damages the crop.
- It can be grown all year round and produces relatively fast.
- The proper seed rate should be maintained to maximize space and yield.
- Seed treatment is important for the avoidance of diseases, and to supply nutrients for the growth of the crop.
- The ridge or raised bed planting is a suitable way of planting maize crops.
- Irrigation, as suits the type of planting done, is necessary for proper growth.
- Removal of weeds to prevent total spoilage of crop is important.
Why would you want to plant cassava and maize, or any other number of crops, together?
- It ensures the multiplicity and stability of a piece of land.
- It helps to reduce the need for chemicals or fertilizers to be used on the land.
- Intercropping allows the crops planted share resources, thus helping them utilize them better. Such resources are moisture, light, nutrients, and so on.
- It suppresses the growth of weeds.
- It makes the crops plantedless vulnerable to pests and diseases.
- If there is a loss suffered with one planted crop, the other or others can serve as a compensation for the lost one.
- In the long run, it enhances the fertility of the soil.
- It is a way of controlling erosion of the soil and the instability of the ecosystem.
- It is a good way to generate more income.
- Shading and physical support is provided to some of the crops planted.
In conclusion, intercropping surely has its advantages as have been noted in this article. However, if this system appeals to you, you need to know the method needed for planting the crops you have in mind together. In this article, only the mechanism of planting cassava and maize together has been looked into. We hope it has opened your mind to the many possibilities of agriculture?
What crops would you like to plant under the intercropping system if you have the chance? Let’s know in the comment section.