The Agricultural Research Trust, commonly known in Zimbabwe as ART Farm, continues to gain credibility in the southern African country by becoming an independent evaluator of hybrid maize varieties, in a series of trials at the national scale.
Established in the early 1980s as an institute to serve the needs of the commercial farming sector in Zimbabwe, no new crop varieties will be released in the country unless they have been tested by an independent arbiter at least five sites or at least for three seasons.
However, ART Farm has been successful in fulfilling this role and crops such as corn, wheat, barley and soy are all tested in annual trials.
The farm is located on the outskirts of Harare in Pomona and the property stretches from Harare Drive to where the Gwebi and Mazowe rivers divide.
The farm has heavy red soils.
ART Farm director Rob Jarvis said the operation was the go-to organization in Zimbabwe for testing chemicals, new technologies and complementary farming systems.
“On the ART Farm operation, the goal is to develop the whole operation into a model example of successfully implemented regenerative agriculture,” he said.
“To this end, the Trust is revamping and refocusing its efforts to investigate, measure and advise farmers on ways and means to convert traditional farmland into a sustainable model of good farming practice with the long-term aim of reducing reliance on towards cultures. chemicals and fertilizers, boost soil health and ultimately improve the profits and quality of all agricultural production.
According to Jarvis, no-till planters are essential for crops, ensuring that crop residue stays on the surface and trying as much as possible to keep the principle of living roots in the farming system through cover crops at intervals. strategies and intercropping where appropriate. .
“The land used on ART was within the research blocks and was in good condition, with reasonable pH, high levels of inherent fertility and little compaction.
“We almost immediately saw an increase in soil fungus, water penetration, earthworm activity and a hive of activity on the flowering plants used in the cover mixes,” said Jarvis.
He added: “This trial is ongoing and will continue indefinitely, with decisions on how to manage crops, hedges, livestock, pasture and land being made holistically.
“These are exciting times for ART and research is ongoing into the possibilities of organic fertilizers.
“We produce our own compost from plant and animal waste, which will then be used in the future to grow healthier and less demanding vegetable crops, which currently use huge and expensive amounts of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.”