Weed control is a very crucial post-planting operation on a plantain farm. There are several ways of controlling weeds in farms; irrespective of the method of weed control you want to adopt, you should always put into consideration the effect on the environment, your crop and your pocket.
It is not ideal as a farmer to allow the cost of weeding usurps your cost of production; the lesser your cost, the better you earn. Plantains would not produce optimally if they were in competition with the weeds around.
There are several ways weeds compete with plantains on the farm; weeds compete for nutrients available in the soil, thereby, reducing the nutrient uptake and utilization by plantains.
Weeds compete for moisture; inadequate moisture for the plantain uptake leads to stunted growth and water stress, this is commonly expressed as yellowing of the plantain leaves.
Weeds compete for space with the plantain. The essence of the spacing between plantains is for them to have adequate feeding areas to enhance good feeding habit and the desired yield.
Lastly, weeds compete for air with the plantains. Aside from moisture and sunlight, air is another essential need for good growth and yield in a plantain farm. When it is inadequate, it delays flowering and causes poor development of the plantain. For these reasons, weed control in a plantain farm is as essential as the profit you envisioned.
It is no longer new that organic agriculture is the future of agriculture and it has come to stay. The major limiting factor of organic farming is the technical expertise of pest control. Weed is a pest.
In an effort to proffer a sustainable means of controlling weeds in an organic farm, I demonstrated the use of sawdust, industrial waste of wood processing factory, as a mulching material to control the weeds on one hectare (10,000sqm) organic plantain farm.
Of course, I could not cover the whole land area but I was able to cover about 400sqm while the remaining land area was left in the hands of manual laborers to handle the weeding operation as it is commonly done in most organic farms.
The first weeding started July 24 after which the sawdust was applied July 30 The sawdust mulched 400sqm whiles the remaining was weeded by the manual laborers.
The sawdust served as the mulching material. After proper weeding of the whole plantain farm, the sawdust was used to cover the surface of the soil at a density of 10-15cm.
Equipment used were:
- Sawdust/wood shavings
- Meter rule
After about 9 weeks, the portion of the plantain farm mulched with sawdust was found to be scantily covered with weeds while the other portion weeded by manual labour were found to be densely covered with weeds.
Aside from the effective weed control achieved, the plantain mulched with the sawdust was found to be outstanding in performance in all ramifications compared to the portion left uncovered or not mulched with sawdust.
The leaves grew bigger with bright green color, the plants’ girths were bigger and more vigorous compared to the plantains on bare soil. Another observation found on the plantain mulched with sawdust is the emergence of mushrooms.
Result: Effects of Mulching on Plantain
To effectively control weeds, you need to understand the conditions that favour weed growth. Mulching simply means covering of the topsoil to discourage the emergence of weeds by making the soil environment unfavorable.
The reasons for the outstanding performance of plantain under the mulching material are numerous.
Firstly, there is an increase in the fertility of the mulched portion. This is because the weeds covered by the sawdust wilt and get decayed; they serve as green manure, which eventually increase the soil fertility.
Secondly, the portion of the farm covered with sawdust enjoys more moisture than the rest of the farm. This is because sawdust has a great ability to retain moisture; as the rain falls, it absorbs the moisture and makes it available for the plantains always; the plantains do not lack water at any period.
In addition, the plantain has little or no competition with weeds on the mulched portion. The weeds growing are not competitive in any way. Weeds can only be controlled but not totally eradicated from the farm.
Lastly, the plantain has full access to all they need to ensure their growth and good development. Talk of nutrients, they have more than enough; there is adequate space and the portion is well aerated. They do not lack water as the sawdust serves as reservoirs for water. All they need is available to ensure a good and reasonable yield.
In conclusion, the trial I carried out has been proven to be very effective if properly done. Cost-wise, it is effective because the cost of getting the sawdust is relatively low.
In the long run, the cost of weeding plantain in the organic farms would be greatly reduced because this weed control method has the potential to control weed in organic plantain farms adequately. Hence, farmers using sawdust to control weed would earn more because the cost of weeding has been greatly boycotted.
The use of sawdust to control weed is not limited to plantain farm or organic farms generally; this method can work in any farming system or crop planted.
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