Intercropping reduces striga damage
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CTA. 1994. Intercropping reduces striga damage. Spore 51. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/49404
Intercropping millet with cowpeas reduces the growth and seed production of the parasitic weed, striga. Millet yields are not affected by competition from the cowpeas. In north-west Mali yields of millet are severely affected by Striga hermonthica....
Intercropping millet with cowpeas reduces the growth and seed production of the parasitic weed, striga. Millet yields are not affected by competition from the cowpeas. In north-west Mali yields of millet are severely affected by Striga hermonthica. Researchers from the Natural Resources Institute (NRI) have been looking at options that resource-poor farmers could adopt in order to control the striga. Fouryears ago scientists working in Ghana found that intercropping sorghum with groundnuts significantly reduced the emergence of striga. Intercropping sorghum with groundnuts is not common in Mali, although millet is often grown with cowpeas, albeit at low density. In trials NRI increased the density of cowpeas so that each planting hill (the traditional planting system) had three or four millet plants and one cowpea plant. The cowpea plant has to be resistant to Striga gesnerioides, the striga species that attacks cowpeas. The number of striga seeds that germinated and attached to the millet was not reduced, but there was a significant reduction in the number of plants that emerged above ground, matured and set seed. The reason for this is thought to be the cooler soil temperature resulting from shading by the cowpeas. The number of striga plants maturing and shedding seed is important because each plant can shed 200,000 seeds. If fewer seeds are produced, the bank of seeds in the soil will gradually be reduced. The cowpea crop had no significant detrimental effect on the yield of millet. However, there was a bigger crop of cowpeas for the family and more cowpea straw for the livestock. Natural Resources Institute, Central Avenue Chatham Maritime, Kent ME4 4TB, UK