Double benefits from cultural control
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CTA. 2008. Double benefits from cultural control. Rural Radio Resource Pack 08/2. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
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An overview of methods, including tillage, weeding and crop rotation
Double benefits from cultural control Cue: Turning the soil before planting and removing weeds from the field are both examples of good farming practice. But practices like these are also a part of pest control. Turning or cultivating help to aerate ? add air spaces to - the soil and to reduce competition for water and nutrients. Getting rid of weed plants, which are often a home to pests and diseases, helps to keep a crop pest-free and healthy. These farm tasks like tillage and weeding, also known as cultural practices, are an important part of IPM,, Integrated Pest Management. Dinala Zalinga, a Crop Protection Officer in Malawi?s Ministry of Agriculture explained more about this to Excello Zidana, who began by asking him about the importance of tillage for pest control. IN: ?Yes tillage is an important tool ? OUT: ? the growth of most of the crops.? DUR?N: 4?11? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Dinala Zalinga, explaining why cultural methods of pest control have some advantages over use of chemicals. The interview comes from a resource pack produced by CTA. Transcript Zalinga Yes, tillage is an important tool in managing pests in the field because with tillage, you tend to till the soil and in the process you tend to expose the eggs even the larvae, even the adults that burrow in the soil and you tend to expose those things to the heat, that is the heat generated from the sun and even to other predators like the birds and even the wasps. In so doing you tend to reduce the pest populations. Zidana Now how about weeding? Zalinga Weeding is another pillar of cultural control, only that farmers, they do not realise, but the weeding is one of the most important aspects that should be applied if you are to get good yields. In weeding, we intend to remove plants that harbour enemies like pests and disease and once a crop is growing under weed free condition, they grow with the robustness and the vigour and those crops tend to resist pest attack, even disease attack. And a crop that has grown with minimal pest or disease attack is the one that will give you enough yield at the end of the day. Zidana Extension workers in Africa are busy persuading farmers or encouraging farmers to be practising crop rotation. How does crop rotation help in managing pests in the field as one of the integrated pest control measures? Zalinga Of course we know land is limiting but we should not be carried away by the situation because crop rotation has proved to be more effective in controlling pests. In rotating the crops you tend to destroy the pest-crop relationship which makes the population of pests to reduce with time. Say if a plant is to be replanted at the very same area after four years during the period that you are planting other crops different from the crop that we used to plant, you tend to starve the pests and at the same time even some crops that are planted, some of them they can have a repelling effect to the pest, to say the pest can decide to run away because of maybe the type of crop that you have just introduced instead of the plant that they used to feast on. Zidana Is it in order to say that variety selection is also another aspect of doing cultural control in the field? Zalinga Yes it is really important because with the variety selection there are even other varieties that are resistant to certain pests. In this context we are talking of other specific characters within the variety that will deter that pest to come closer. Say for varieties of cotton, there are the varieties that are more hairy. They tend to be more resistant to say jacids. And with the time to maturity, for example in the other varieties, say maize, there are the varieties that mature very early and before maybe a certain particular pest may come in or a certain particular disease may come in, you find that the crop was already produced. Zidana Moving around the villages and seeing fields of farmers one may discover that many farmers are doing intercropping. How does intercropping help in pest management in the field? Zalinga My friend, intercropping is really another good area that farmers should be involved in. Because in intercropping we tend to bring in different crops and we know different pests like different crops species, and in between them you will find there is a different crop that is repelling those pests, and in the process they tend to run away from your good crop and you tend to get good yields. Zidana So how important are they over the other methods, we are talking of cultural control here? Zalinga Cultural is very important because with cultural you tackle so many issues. And with cultural you even tend to increase yield per unit area because if you weed, you know for sure that your crop is growing under very good management and your yield will be high. If you do the tilling, you tend to loosen the soil and you find the crop grows under very good conducive environment. While with the pest control or chemical control, you only apply, you only kill the living organism but you do not kill the weeds, you do not loosen the soil. And some of the chemicals that we use, they tend to make the soil inert, thereby making the micro-organisms that are very useful for fixing of nitrogen to be inert. But with cultural, you tend to facilitate robustness in the growth of most of the crops. End of track