Kenya has now a lasting solution to Bacterial Wilt, a dangerous soil disease that is caused by soil born bacteria pseudomonas solanacearum which are also referred to as HIV virus of the soil and can cause up to 100 percent losses to a farmer depending on their intensity in the soil.
Can destroy up to 100% of crop on the farm
This disease is more severe to plants in the solanaceae family which includes tomatoes and pepper.
The bacteria causes wilt by invading and gradually blocking the plant’s vascular tissues. Unlike other wilts, the plant wilts and die rapidly without yellowing or spotting of foliage.
Although farmers have the cheaper option of soil solarization, the technology is at times not convenient especially to farmers who are located in areas that rarely receive intense heat from the sun or to those who wish to plant during rainy seasons
More effective technique
It is on this basis that Amiran Kenya Limited has designed a soil steaming technique capable of killing this disease causing microorganism in the soil any time of the year without relying on sun availability.
The soil steaming equipment is made up of a metallic drum with piping systems that are then inserted in the steaming kiln.
The kit is composed of a solar rig cover and can accommodate about two wheelbarrow of soil although the size may vary depending on the needs of a farmer.
The base of the piping system is connected to about four sub-pipes. Each sub-pipe is drilled with about five holes facing upwards.
The cost of constructing the kiln varies depending on one’s sourcing of materials and fabrication labour cost.
Soil steaming process
In order to achieve the best results, the kiln is filled with equal amount of soil and manure covering the sub-pipes and the kiln covered tightly with another solar rig cover.
The drum is filled with about three quarters of water and the lid tightly covered to ensure that there is no gas leaking from it. After this, the water in the drum is boiled for at least 4 hours
According to Christopher Mutune, a Technical Agronomist at Amiran Kenya Limited, when the soil is heated to up to 90 degrees, pathogens that causes the disease cannot survive.
“Once the soil is steamed in the right way it can last for over two seasons with yields being steady and one not seeing any menace of the wilt diseases,” said Mutuni.
This is good news especially to tomato and potato farmers in heavily rain fed regions in the country with sticky sandy soil that drain at slowest speed, creating the perfect breeding space for microorganisms that cause Bacterial Wilt.
This technique can sustain soils for more than two seasons, making it more cost effective.