Permanent raised beds By definition simply means a no-till, raised the area of a known dimension for growing crops thereby leaving room for a pathway, alley, walkway, or furrow. It thus reduces the need to make ridges every year and also reduce the cost of production.
Permanent raised beds are made in such a way that the topsoil of the lined out area is conserved and unaltered. The topsoil is a deposit of nutrients made as a result of the activities of the soil organisms and decomposition of organic matter.
The topsoil is well aerated, loose soil with large pore spaces. These facilitate the adequate circulation of oxygen and easy penetration of the crop roots.
The areas designated to be furrows or walkways can as well be evacuated and heaped over the beds for planting thus creating a heap of topsoil rich in plant nutrients, organic resources, and bioorganisms.
The topsoil could be fortified with organic resources before making the beds thus creating a deep layer of loose and rich topsoil booming with life. This also creates bigger pores for root penetration and air circulation.
The concept of using a permanent raised bed is to ensure the soil and its properties are unaltered, enabling the crops to have access to natural nutrients needed for their growth.
Any distortion in the soil components through other land preparation methods like conventional or minimum tillage will greatly affect the organization of the soil and conversely reduces the productivity of the soil.
Carrying out various management practices on the farm becomes very easy as the farm had been clustered into permanent raised beds; making it easy for the manager to carry out any operation.
The sown crops are also evenly monitored and any change in their physiology as a result of pest infestation or disease condition can be easily noticed and controlled using appropriate measures.
For organic farming, where all the farm inputs are non-chemical, the permanent raised bed is highly recommended because it is a natural habitat of the crop, rich in essential plant nutrients. Crops grown on this type of bed have good growth and the yield of the crop is greatly improved in terms of quantity and quality.
Advantages of permanent raised beds farming systems
- It is easy to work with and manage
- You can calculate yield per bed rather than per acre
- It maximizes or optimizes the use of land
- It ensures an intensive farming system with the least productive spacing adopted.
- Eases farm work like transplanting, sowing, and harvest.
- Protect soil biodiversity.
- Saves costs of land preparation spent season after season. It is done once
- Makes for easy planning of work
- Conserves moisture
- Increased productivity due to aggregation of nutrients
- Aids soil solarization by exposing top soils to the effects of the sun.
- Aids the safe and easy use of various types of irrigation; be it furrow, drip, rain guns or spray tube.
- Eases fertilization, pesticides and herbicides application.
- Encourages batch production and harvesting for all year round farming.
- Eases weeding as one can stand in the furrows and uproot weeds on the beds without fear of damaging crops.
- It aids and eases trellising, staking and other support systems.
- It works just fine for the purpose of crop rotation even within small farmland.
Disadvantages of permanent raised beds farming systems
- Encourages deforestation.
- The initial cost outlay is high.
- It encourages upturn of hitherto buried and dormant weed seeds.
Caution: Permanent raised beds are not meant to be tampered with or stepped on.
Farms, where these beds are currently in use in Nigeria, are:
- Macshoby Agrobiz Farms
- Farm Villa Farms
- Prudent Organic Farms
Note: This article is an improved version of a Guest post. It was originally written by:
Kafilat Adedeji, CEO Prudent Organic Farms.
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