Organic Farming and Cucumber Growing in Nigeria
Organic farming is a method of crop and animal production with the use of natural methods. The use of synthetic chemicals is not encouraged in organic farming.
The main goal of organic farming is the production of crop and animal in an environmentally sustainable way.
Organic farming practices can be applied to the production of cucumbers. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of organic cucumber farmers in Nigeria.
Those who implement organic farming practices in the growing of cucumbers in Nigeria are of the opinion that they produced healthier cucumber fruits in an environmentally sustainable manner.
How organic farming can be applied to cucumber production in Nigeria
There are some methods used for organic cucumber farming, these methods are explained as follows:
This is a method in which different crops are cultivated with the cucumber crop in organic farming. It is believed that planting a lot of crops has some benefits, the benefits include:
- Repelling of insects
- Bringing of a lot of beneficial insects and microorganism
- Better pollination
- Reducing weed pressure etc
Soil management is important in organic farming. Organic farming depends on the breakdown of organic matter in soil, this is believed to improve the structure, nutrients and micro-organisms count in the soil.
Soil management in organic cucumber farming include improvement in the count of beneficial micro-organism like mycorrhiza, crop rotation, cover cropping, compost and manure management and carbon sequestration.
Soil management also includes the use of manure. In organic cucumber farming in Nigeria, well composted chicken manure is often being used.
Chicken manure is rich in all the nutrients needed by plants. Aside the provision of nutrients, chicken manure can also improve the microbial count in the soil and improve the physical and chemical structure of the soil.
Leguminous crops can also be used as companion plants in cucumber farming. Leguminous crops like cowpea and bean can fix nitrogen into the soil. This will make the soil richer in nitrogen.
Limestone and dolomite can be used in organic soil management to adjust or manage the pH of soil. Most crops including cucumber require a particular range of soil pH to produce optimally.
Weed management is important in growing of cucumber through organic farming methods. In weed management in organic farming, the use of chemical herbicides is not encouraged.
Crop competition can be used in weed management in organic cucumber farming. This will encourage competition and kill some weeds. It will also produce phytotoxic effects on weeds.
Some of the practices that can be used for weed management in organic farming are:
- Mulching: This is the use of grasses, leaves, plastic mulch and other materials to cover the soil surface so that weeds will not be able to emerge.
- Tilling of the soil: Several rounds of tillage of the soil can remove weeds and kill a lot of the seeds of weeds.
- Heat: The use of thermal flame devices can kill weeds on the soil. Though, some organic farmers believe thermal killing of weeds has a negative effect on the soil micro-organisms.
- Cutting: Weeds can also be removed with the use of cutlasses, hoes, weeders and other farm implements.
Management of harmful organisms
Management of pests and diseases is also very important in organic farming and the cultivation of cucumber.
Bacteria, fungi, nematodes, insects, mites, beetles and oomycetes etc. are some of the organisms that can cause problems and harms for crops.
For instance, there are organic ways to use for the management of downy mildew in cucumbers.
The following ways can be used to manage the harmful organisms in organic farming as it relates to the production of cucumber:
- The use of beneficial insects
- The use of beneficial microbes
- Crop rotation
- The use of biopesticides
- The use of companion planting
- The use of biologics
- The use of row cover crops
- The use of traps etc
Organic cucumber farming in Nigeria is profitable and also environmentally sustainable.