Friday, July 25, 2014

Adoption of the Push Pull Technology by a group of Farmers in Koduogo Village

Farmers on a field day training
In the morning of 23rd July 2014, members of Ndhisu horticultural group gathered once again in Koduogo for a sharing and learning moment organized by International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) on the 'Push-Pull' technology.

 The push–pull technology is a strategy for controlling agricultural pests by using repellent "push" plants and trap "pull" plants. For example, cereal crops like maize or sorghum are often infested by stem borers. 
Grasses planted around the perimeter of the crop attract and trap the pests, whereas other plants, like Desmodium, planted between the rows of maize repel the pests and control the parasitic plant Striga. Push–pull technology was developed at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) in Kenya in collaboration with Rothamsted Research, UK and national partners.

Maize inter-cropped with Desmodium
In history stemborers and striga weed are major problems in Maize production, especially in the larger Western Kenya where it has remained a staple food for most families. Both stemborer and striga weed has deeply lowered the farmers expected output despite the efforts they put in place. 
On this field day that was organized by icipe and was attended by a good number of farmers, at least a solution had been witnessed and realized from the demo sites by all farmers present and from the final analysis of the training, it was clear the technology adoption was now home to many. As ALIN, we had the chance to market our Soko+ and Farmis platforms to the farmers who registered with us.  Otherwise, You may need to learn more on how push pull technology works:

How Push Pull Works
Mulato grass
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. 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 uncinatum (silverleaf) (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 laying eggs, 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)-β-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.

Desmodium plant
Desmodium also controls striga, resulting in significant yield increases of about 2 tonnes/hectare (0.9 short tons per acre) per cropping season. In the elucidation of the mechanisms of striga suppression by D. uncinatum, it was found that, in addition to benefits derived from increased availability of nitrogen and soil shading, an allelopathic effect of the root exudates of the legume, produced independently of the presence of striga, is responsible for this dramatic reduction in an intercrop with maize.

Presence of blends of secondary metabolites with striga seed germination stimulatory, 4′′,5′′,-dihydro-5,2′,4′-trihydroxy-5′′,-isopropenylfurano-(2′′,3′′;7,6)-isoflavanone, and postgermination inhibitory, 4′′,5′′-dihydro-2′-methoxy-5,4′-dihydroxy-5′′-isopropenylfurano- (2′′,3′′;7,6)-isoflavanone, activities in the root exudates of D. uncinatum which directly interferes with parasitism was observed. This combination thus provides a novel means of in situ reduction of the striga seed bank in the soil through efficient suicidal germination even in the presence of grassy host plants in the proximity. 

Other Desmodium species have also been evaluated and have similar effects on stemborers and striga weed and are currently being used as intercrops in maize, sorghum and millets.

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