Sorting out striga with Sesbania
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CTA. 1996. Sorting out striga with Sesbania. Spore 63. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/47327
Striga hermonthica, or striga as it is commonly known, is a pernicious parasitic weed that affects millions of hectares of land in sub Saharan Africa and is becoming a major constraint to food production on the African continent. Striga attacks a...
Striga hermonthica, or striga as it is commonly known, is a pernicious parasitic weed that affects millions of hectares of land in sub Saharan Africa and is becoming a major constraint to food production on the African continent. Striga attacks a variety of crops; including maize, sorghum, millet, sugar cane and rice, stunting growth and reducing yields. In heavily infested fields, maize yields can drop by 50% or more. Physical eradication of striga by hand weeding is labour intensive, and chemical control methods are too expensive for small-scale farmers. In Kenya, laboratory and greenhouse experiments at the National Sugar Research Centre at Kibos have shown- that Sesbania sesban trees can stimulate striga seed germination in the soil, just as maize does. In the Vihiga District of Kenya's Western Province researchers are now evaluating the longterm effects of ses bania trees on striga. The trees are planted mainly to improve soil fertility, but they also have the added bonus of stimulating striga seeds to germinate. The seeds subsequently die because sesbania is not a true host plant. Results from two seasons of experiments in 1994 showed that sesbania trees actually reduced the number of striga seeds in the soil by 34%, whereas in maize plots without a sesbania' trap' crop, the striga seed population increased by 11 %. The preliminary results are encouraging but the real test will come when the sesbania in the fallow plots is replanted with maize and both soil fertility and striga populations can be assessed and compared. Hans Sjogren KEFR1/KAR1//CRAF Project PO Box 30677, Nairobi, KENYA