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Vegetable farming: no need for pesticides

Vegetables at the Prisons exhibition stand at Nakuru Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

One of the biggest challenges farmers go through is pest control. The pests do not discriminate, their infestation is equally distributed from large scale farmers to kitchen garden farmers.

Over the year’s farmers have tried to come up with better ways to control the pests, apart from pesticides there are natural ways that are being embraced by farmers.

Agronomist Fred Munene, says that farmers have embraced healthy farming, majority are producing chemical free vegetables.

Yellow and Blue Sticky Traps

“When it comes to pest attacks a farmer can use a method called traps, we have two types; yellow sticky traps and blue sticky traps, that are strategically placed in the farm to attract and trap the pests,” he says

The sticky traps are easy to use they do not require much supervision once installed they will attract suck pests like whitefly, aphids, jassids, thrips, hoppers.

They can be used in the fields, greenhouses, gardens, nurseries, and house plants.

Handpicking

Use of hands to remove toxic materials such as debris and pests is the most common method used by farmers.

Munene, says that another option is hand picking the pests. “One by one you can remove them from the farm.”

Ensuring the field is clean from debris, is also another option. This will keep the pests away; they cannot breed in a clean are.

Barriers

Physical barriers can be made of biodegradable or non-biodegradable materials.

The easiest recommended way is to place a fine net over the plants, giving them room to grow.

Push-Pull Method

Munene says that a method known as pull and push is also advisable.

“If you have a cabbage farm. Between two lines of cabbage grow maize. Because the pests that attacks maize is not the pests that attack cabbages, so when they come they will be distracted by the maize. This method is called barrier or pull and push,” he says

Push–pull technology was developed at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) in Kenya in collaboration with Roth Amsted Research, UK.

The push approach is provided by the plants that emit volatile chemicals (kairomones) which repel stem borer moths and drive them away from the main crop.

The Pull approach when crops are planted around the main crops. For example, grasses planted around maize and sorghum fields will destruct pests by attracting them with the chemicals emitted by the grasses. The pests will be pulled by what appears to be more delicious and leave the main crops.

Beneficial insects

There are beneficial insects like the lady beetle, parasitic wasps, ladybirds, spiders that feed on different pests and are used by farmers to fight other pests.

Famers are advised to look out for those insects and make conducive atmosphere for them by planting pollen and nectar producing plants.

Irrigation

Munene adds that type of irrigation used is also very paramount.

“You use overhead irrigation like sprinklers and horse pipes to control pests like red spider mites. However, the use of overhead irrigation can cause fungal diseases so they are not advisable to be use in the evening,” he says

Another way to control pests is usage of cleaning utensils detergent.

Healthy soil

Much as it is cliché Healthy crops come from healthy soil, and healthy crops can easily fight pests on their own.

Farmers are advised to add organic matter such as manure on their soil.

Crop Rotation

This the practice of planting different kinds of vegetables in your farm/garden after every harvest.

This helps in reducing infestation from pests since their insects that attack specific crops. So when the crop they feast on is changed or relocated they will also move to avoid starvation.


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