Len talks, walks virtues of fertigation farming

Abang Johari (second right) and his wife Datin Patinggi Datuk Juma'ani Tun Tuanku Bujang (centre) at Len's (third left) honeydew farm.

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KUCHING: Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Assistant Minister Datu Len Talif hopes the state will embark on fertigation farming to increase production of quality food in Sarawak.

To him, the food produced through fertigation is of good quality where size may be controlled.

His experimental project has been so successful that Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg visited his farm to take a closer look at how it could be done.

Honeydew melon plants under one of the shades in Len’s farm.
Honeydew melon  plants bearing fruits in Len’s fertigation farm.

Len told DayakDaily that he has been experimenting with two ‘shades’ of land size of 40 feet by 80 feet each in his village utilising the smart farming concept where he is planting honeydew melons.

The result has been so satisfactory that he will be expanding from the present two plots to four plots. He said it was such an interesting and rewarding experience and that he truly hoped many in Sarawak would pick up the know-how and embark on the same journey as him.

Len (front) and family at his honeydew melon farm.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan (right) at Len’s honeydew melon farm.

“You don’t need a big area. In the initial stage, you may have to spend a bit to set up the infrastructure such as the tent, the pump and pipe,” Len told DayakDaily on the sidelines of the 15th State Level Saberkas Triannual General Meeting at a local hotel here today.

After that, it would require diligent monitoring where regulating of water supply and fertiliser would lead to high yields and quality productivity.

Comparing with conventional farming methods on land under the sun, he said the fertigation method would enable farmers to control the environment and thus the produce including the size.

He said on conventional farms, the maturation period for honeydew melon is 90 days. But if it is done under a shade with fertigation, the period would be shortened to 55 days.

“If you are using the fertigation method, you will have at least three crops per year, sometimes even five crops. But with conventional farming, the maximum you can do for honeydew is three cycles per year,” said Len.

Furthermore, an open farm is an uncontrolled environment where the plants would be subject to pests and other factors such as too much rainfall or sunlight.

He also pointed out that produce grown through fertigation were usually of high quality apart from the fact that farmers could control the size of the fruits.

Harvest of evenly sized honeydew grown on Len’s farm.

“If you want big fruit, then you keep only one fruit per plant; if you want a middle sized one, then you can keep two or three, that is how to control the size,” Len told DayakDaily.

Len said the planting of honeydew through fertigation would need manual pollination to ensure fertilization.

However, he also suggested keeping stingless bees (kelulut) within the shades.

“Then you can have two products — honeydew and honey,” he said, adding that fertigation may be used for other plants such as chilies, tomatoes and other vegetables.