Zai pits is also known as planting pits, planting basins, micro pits, or small water harvesting pits. They measure 20-30 cm in width, 10-20 cm deep, and spaced 60-80 cm apart. One zai pit can hold up to nine seed of maize depending on the size, afterwards they are filled with organic manure and dry plant biomass. This leads to increased microbial activities thus increasing the rate of infiltration during the rainy season.
Kilifi County is among the arid regions in Kenya and farmers in Ganze sub-county have adopted the use of zai pits to increase their production. PlantVillage field officer in Ganze region; Agnes Kadzo visits Milore Muungano farmers group who practice this technology. Here are some of the benefits of zai pits that she talks about with the farmers.
BENEFITS OF USING ZAI PITS
Zai pits are most suited for arid and semi-arid regions which have low and unreliable rainfall. This is because the pits harvest rain and run off water which mitigates drought.
Arid lands are usually degraded and contain hard pan soils that are impossible to plough .The use of zai pits addresses the issue of land degradation, soil infertility, and moisture retention making arid lands more productive.
Zai pits concentrate fertility near the crop root zone. Due to their depth, the organic manure and fertilizers are not easily washed off with run-off water. Also, the use of mulch and dry plant biomass increase the fertility of the soil in the zai pits.
Zai pits ensure reduced competition of moisture and nutrients because the use of mulch suppresses the growth of weeds and nutrients are concentrated near the roots of the crop.
Agnes Kadzo advices farmers in arid regions and other sub-counties in Kilifi to practice this technology and experience increased crop production.
Written by: Marion Makunyo