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Manayan Farm, Malalam, Ilagan

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Reference Desk

Management of Striga and stemborers in sorghum Sorghum bicolor through Push-Pull technology

 
Desmodium intortum (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Starr_041113-0772_Desmodium_intortum.jpg)

The aim of our study was to assess the potential role of greenleaf desmodium, Desmodium intortum in a combined management of striga and stemborers, which would lead to development of a suitable push–pull strategy for sorghum. Relative to other Desmodium spp., D. intortum withstands drought conditions better and wilts less. It also has a relatively higher nitrogen-fixing ability, over 300 kg N/ha per year under optimum conditions and, therefore, is more appropriate as an intercrop for the degraded environments where sorghum cultivation is widely practiced.

Read more: Management of Striga and stemborers in sorghum Sorghum bicolor through Push-Pull technology

Integration of edible beans Phaseolus vulgaris into the Push–Pull technology

 Phaseolus-vulgaris
Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)

One of the bottlenecks hindering rapid uptake of the Push–Pull technology is the fact that the intercrop, desmodium, although quality fodder, is not an edible plant for humans and replaces beans which are traditionally interplanted with maize. Beans constitute a major source of protein for the resource-poor farmers that cannot be compensated by a higher consumption of dairy products and meat that result from the fodder component provided by desmodium. Therefore, in an effort to address this constraint, we undertook a series of studies in Kenya to:

Read more: Integration of edible beans Phaseolus vulgaris into the Push–Pull technology

How Push-Pull Works

 Push-Pull Technology
Push-Pull Farming System

The Push-Pull technology involves use of behaviour-modifying stimuli to manipulate the distribution and abundance of stemborers and beneficial insects for management of stemborer pests (Figure above). It is based on in-depth understanding of chemical ecology, agrobiodiversity, plant-plant and insect-plant interactions, and involves intercropping a cereal crop with a repellent intercrop such as desmodium (push), with an attractive trap plant such as Napier grass (pull) planted as a border crop around this intercrop. Gravid stemborer females are repelled from the main crop and are simultaneously attracted to the trap crop. Napier grass produces significantly higher levels of attractive volatile compounds (green leaf volatiles), cues used by gravid stemborer females to locate host plants, than maize or sorghum. There is also an increase of approximately 100-fold in the total amounts of these compounds produced in the first hour of nightfall by Napier grass (scotophase), the period at which stemborer moths seek host plants for oviposition, causing the differential oviposition preference. However, many of the stemborer larvae, about 80%, do not survive as Napier grass tissues produce sticky sap in response to feeding by the larvae which traps them causing their mortality. Legumes in the Desmodium genus (silverleaf, D. uncinatum and greenleaf, D. intortum), on the other hand produce repellent volatile chemicals that push away the stemborer moths. These include (E)-ß-ocimene and (E)-4,8-dimethyl-1,3,7-nonatriene, semiochemicals produced during damage to plants by herbivorous insects and are responsible for the repellence of desmodium to stemborers.

Read more: How Push-Pull Works

Vermicomposting and Vermiculture

African Night Crawler
African Night Crawler (Eudrilus eugeniae). The most commonly used earthworm for Vermiculture in the Philipines.

Vermiculture is a more "organic" way of producing fertilizer from readily available agricultural wastes in the farm and organic households refuse. These organic wastes are chopped and mixed with dried manure (especially from rumminants, like cows, carabaos, goats, sheeps, etc.) or from other animals, except dogs and cats (more on this later); and most important earthworms.

The final product from the "Vermicomposting" is "Vermicast", an organic fertilizer rich in nitrogen, and other nutrients that are found in the organic wastes used in the vermicomposting. The selected videos below provide useful guidelines on how to setup your own Vermicomposting and Vermiculture quite simply and easily depending on your available resources, funds and space, as well as what you plan to do with the vermicompost produced.

Read more: Vermicomposting and Vermiculture