Mr. Troung, a businessman-turned-farmer, made his career change when he inherited his parents’ land more than 20 years ago. Born into a family of farmers, land wasn’t the only thing with which his parents left him; they also passed down invaluable agricultural wisdom. That wisdom, combined with informal modern information exchanges, taught Mr. Troung all he needs to know to maintain his three acres on the outskirts of Hanoi. With land lush with fruit trees (including guava, oranges, pomelo, papaya, and longan to name a few), one of the most useful pieces of knowledge he has learned is the benefits of soybean fertilizer for fruit trees. Mr. Troung has worked with his community, the Phu Dien commune, to formalize, expand, and document the process for this fertilization method.
For farmers in Northern Vietnam, it is fairly common knowledge that the nutrients from soybeans, and in particular potassium, increase sugar content in order to produce sweeter, more profitable fruit. Applying this knowledge, farmers from the Phu Dien commune outside of Hanoi began using soybeans as organic potassium fertilizer in their orchards. In the beginning, farmers used this technique for a specific fruit tree, Buoi Dien, a Vietnamese pomelo cultivar. Now, they have expanded its use and has been applied to many different kinds of fruit trees, and especially the orange tree.
Mr. Troung described the simple process he uses to make and apply the soybean fertilizer: grind the soybeans into a powder and apply this powder directly to the bed of the trees. Cover the powder with a layer of soil during the plant’s flowering stage. Be sure to give the plants sufficient water, he advises. Reapply, following the same process, during the next flowering stage of next year. He also notes that farmers don’t have to remove anything afterwards.
In collaboration with Vietnamese organizations i-Nature and Center for Creativity and Sustainability, A Growing Culture helped Mr. Troung document his innovation. Read more about the documentation project here.
Where to start? For one, this soybean fertilizer has effectively replaced inorganic potassium fertilizers. This reduces costs to the farmers (they no longer need to purchase expensive chemical fertilizers) and also eliminates chemical runoff common with the use of inorganic potassium fertilizers. Additionally, the soybean fertilizer helps farmers increase their income by producing sweeter, more profitable fruit.