Fertility requirements in banana production

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Bananas can be very productive if well fed and managed. They tend to do well with frequent application of farmyard manure from cattle, pigs, goats and chickens. Farmers can also use well composited manure, which has been preserved well so that it doesn't lose nutrients.


At planting, thoroughly mix 70kg (two debes) of dry manure with the topsoil. The bottom soil can be spread elsewhere in the shamba.

Rock phosphate for root development

Rock phosphate can be added to the soil to provide phosphorus. Mix with the compost and topsoil to enhance soil fertility and promote root development. Put the top soil/manure and fertilizer mixture into the planting hole. If the mixture does not fill the hole, topsoil from the surrounding areas should be added. The centre of the hole should be marked with a peg and left undisturbed for a minimum of two weeks.

Rock phosphate should be applied once a year to replenish other essential nutrients to the growing banana plants. After planting it is important to add organic fertilizers such as slurry (watery mixture made of fresh cow dung and urine) once or twice a month around the banana stool (but not too near the plants).


It is important to monitor the growing banana plants continuously. Each banana stool should have only three plants at different stages of growth – a mother or bearer with a bunch, a daughter that is half the size of the mother and a granddaughter (peeper), which is the smallest or most recent emerging sucker. Any other suckers are unwanted and should be removed continuously as they emerge.

How to check for nutrients in bananas

One year after planting, the stem of the daughter should be larger than the mother stem - this shows that the bananas are growing well. But if a farmer notices that the daughter stem is the same size as the mother stem, it means that the bananas lack essential soil nutrients – this is an indication that the plants need more organic fertilizer.


Continuous addition of mulch is one way of maintaining soil fertility in a banana plantation. Mulching conserves moisture, controls weeds and reduces soil erosion. When the mulch decomposes, it releases nutrients that are taken up by the bananas, in the process promoting their growth. Mulch material can be grass, chopped banana leaves and the stems (also called pseudo-stems).

Crop residue from beans, maize stalks, can be used as mulch. The mulch should be kept away from the base of the plants to prevent development of more roots in the bananas. Mulch should be spread thinly to reduce banana weevils.

>>Tell us how useful this information is to your farming enterprise. Share your experience by email to admin@theorganicfarmer.org, leave a comment below this article or SMS 0715 916 136.

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