Plantains thrive better with perennial cultivation
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CTA. 1995. Plantains thrive better with perennial cultivation . Spore 56. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
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A decade-long research programme has shown that plantains grow best in a multispecies alley cropping system, with the crop being cultivated on a perennial system. Early in the 1980s researchers at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture...
A decade-long research programme has shown that plantains grow best in a multispecies alley cropping system, with the crop being cultivated on a perennial system. Early in the 1980s researchers at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) began long-term studies to see why yields of plantains were not maintained when the crop was grown under field conditions, whereas there was no decline with backyard gardens. It was soon identified that the backyard gardens maintained good levels of organic matter in the soil. Achieving that in the field was not so easy. Mulching with elephant grass helped, but cutting and carrying it in is labour intensive. Alley cropping with hedgerows of introduced trees was tried, but yields still declined. Researchers then tried hedgerows of the natural shrubs and trees. Land was cleared, but not burnt, and the shrubs and trees were allowed to grow up into a multi-species hedgerow. Some hedgerows that are now five years old have more than 120 species in them. Over a six-year period there has been no decline in plantain yields, suggesting that the system can maintain production with the added advantage that local plant diversity is being conserved. At the same time annual replanting was compared to perennial cultivation. The results over four years have shown that perennial cultivation can yield 20 tonnes per hectare per year, against 15 tonnes for annual replanting. IITA PMB 5320 Ibadan NIGERIA
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