24 January 2019, Kuala Lumpur
To enhance staff's understanding of agricultural knowledge and development, Mr Wee Yong Geap, Chief Farm Director of Eco Starland Group had prepared a 3-day agriculture mini-workshop. Mr Wee provided a guide to the use of soil testing and soil management. It was a fun and interesting process, which made the participants feel like going back to the campus and do experiments again.
First of all, Mr Wee let the group understand the nature of the soil, including the composition of the soil structure, texture, the right way to cultivate the soil and so on. Moving on to soil testing, which is the focus of this class, Mr Wee pointed out that soil ph is important because the amount of plant nutrients that can be absorbed is affected by ph, for instance, the most appropriate ph of durian is in the range of 5-6g/m2. He also said lime and sulfur can be added to the soil to increase or decrease the acidity and alkalinity of the soil, respectively.
Before planting, nitrogen content (N) should be tested first, because nitrogen in the soil is nitrate (NO3-), and the roots of plants absorb NO3- as they grow, so the nitrogen concentration of soil will affect the judgment of applying fertilizer. It was also mentioned in the process that suitable materials for composting are those with high carbon content, including crop wastes, paper and straw. Materials with high nitrogen content, such as vegetables, fruit waste, weeds, flowers, etc., can be composted.
Mr Wee stressed that there is no big issue for durian planting in the first three years. It is just mainly against the invasion of pests and diseases and to let the seedlings grow. He said if grasshoppers invade, a pesticide can be used in moderation. There are also ways to treat leaf slime disease or caterpillars which can affect plant growth by absorbing nutrients from the leaves.
Mr Wee said that there are 134 kinds of durian diseases, the most threatening ones are root rot disease and canker disease, which could lead to poor leaves and outflow of black juice from trees. He said there is no one-size-fits-all solution to root rot disease, we just have to find the best solution by ourselves.
In order to get the staff to learn while doing the work, Mr Wee used the soil from the garden and found that the soil that's sampled in the area is very different in the 315 acres EcoFarm. It is clear to know that whether the lands are rich or lack of certain nutrients via scientific experiments, and this knowledge is very important to farmers.
Mr Wee also shared his notebook which includes his 30 years of professional experience. Not only that it could improve our agricultural knowledge but also letting us know that agriculture is an advanced knowledge.