Wednesday April 9 2014

How to fight crop pests without chemical use

By Michael J. Ssali

Not all of us are always in a position to buy pesticides when pests attack our crops. Some farmers are even against the liberal use of chemicals on their farms.

One effective way is for the farmer to plant early, so that the crops grow before the eruption of the pests that usually multiply their numbers during the season as other farmers plant the same crop.

The seed or planting material should be clean, healthy, and totally free of pests.

Planting “unclean” vines or cuttings will only introduce diseases and attract pests on your farm.

It is always important to think hard about where to get your planting material from.
Good seed is likely to result in vigorous crops which, if planted early, may mature before pests build up their populations.

It is advisable that you consult agricultural services extension officers about where to get good planting material.

They know about seeds that are resistant to pests, drought and diseases. Scientists in the research stations under National Agriculture Research Organisation have developed varieties that are not only pest resistant but also high yielding.

What to avoid
Another requirement is early detection of infected plants and their quick removal by burning or burying before they spread pests to other plants.

In some cases, the disease-carrying organisms are physically moved from diseased plants to healthy plants by human activity such as the use of a knife or panga/machete from one plant to another. The farmer should have an understanding of how some microscopic pests spread and avoid such practices as careless use of sharp tools in a field known to have diseased plants.

The practice of crop rotation reduces pest multiplication. Growing one crop in the same place all the time encourages the building up of the pests that feed on that crop.
However, if a different crop is planted in the garden, the pests that had built up there will die when the crop they feed on disappears.

That is why it is important to remove and burn or bury all the residues of the previous season’s crop.