CASSAVA WEED MANAGEMENT FOR RURAL FARMERS

Weed management in a cassava farm has been one of the drains in farm resources especially for rural farmers.Because there are no wide spread easy ways to weed a cassava farm, most rural and small scale farmers employ the age-long practice of using hoes and knives. Some rarely employ other practices like planting cover crops like melon and potatoes. Others move a bit further to employ the use of herbicide. They often suffer the consequences of knowledge shortage evidently seen in the way they use these herbicides.
In bridging the knowledge and skill gap in cassava weed management, documented research works and “how-to’s” abound on paper and on the web but the skill to implement the guidelines are scarce. Again the financial ability to procure the needed hardwares like knapsack sprayers and personal protective equipments(PPE) are not available.
The new approach in managing weed in cassava farms entails that plans must be laid out before the commencement of site clearing . There are areas of concentration that if given the needed attention would boost productivity and make cassava farming easy. Below is a guide for cassava weed management:
SELECT A NEAR-LEVEL FARM
Ensure that you select a level or near-level farm. A farm on the hill may pose various problems to the farmer. Among the numerous challenges in farming on the hill side include: strenuous movement of men and equipment, inability to make ridges, the likelihood to witness wash-out of essential soil nutrient like nitrogen. Though hilly farm lands could be terraced,the budget to terrace hilly farms is way out of the reach of a rural or small farmer.
Moreover weed management (especially with herbicides) is better done on a level or near-level farmland. The amount of enegy needed to transverse the farm calls for more effort thereby making a hilly farm a no-choice for any willing rural farmer who wants to make a shift from the old to the new system of weed management.
B. RIDGES BUT NOT MOULDS.
Beyond siting your farm on a plain field as a prelude to good weed management , the farmer must ensure that he made ridges or farm zero-lillage . Moulds pose a graeter challenge than ridges and zero-tillage. The old practice of mould making in cassava farms comes with its complication. To employ the use of herbicides in a farmland with moulds is hard especially when the moulds are not tilled in linear manner.
The best anchorage for crop is the ridge system. With the rigde comes the ease of movement. Ridges also serve as easy markers to know where herbicides has been sprayed. Also ridges help to arrange companion crop in the appropriate rows to avoid herbicide drift damage.Unlike ridges,using moulds as ancourage in farms, keeps the operator in a near-random movement which makes farming un-enjoyable, tedious and hectic.
C. APPLY HERBICIDE TIMELY
With your farm layout clear with its ridges and furrows. Spraying the farm with the appropriate herbicide must be done at the right time. Allowing the weed to grow too big may affect the soli nutrient. There is also the possibility (as in most cases) of accidental spray where herbicides targeted at weeds ends up touching the crops because the weeds have grown too big and too close to the crops.
For the sake of soil nutrient preservation,avoidance of drift spray ,easy movement and resource savings(time,herbicide,energy) cassava farms must be sprayed while the weed is still at around 4 inches height .
D. USE PARAQUAT HERBICIDE
The major game changer in how profitable or not a cassava farm is lies on the use of appropriate herbicide. Rural farmers are new to the use of herbicide so tutoring them on the various types, their mode of action and stages of application matter a lot.
One herbicide that is easier to employ in cassava farming is Paraquat. Paraquat is better used because of its mode of action.
Paraquate kills by contact . In the event it drifts ,the damage would be in proportion to the areas of the crop touched. The case is different in the use of a herbicide like glyphosate which kills when the leaves translocate the chemical to the roots and tips of plants .In essence, even a drop can give a knock-down within 2 weeks.
So with a good layout of ridges and furrows a spray with paraquat will control the major weed problem of the rural /small scale farm. Its cost efficiency is better compared to other herbicides. A 5oo square metre could be treated with a 100 millilitres of paraquate missed in a 16 litres of water. The chemical cost is approximately $0.48 or N150 (according to 5/6/2017 estimate)
Accordingly, putting the cassava farmers through these body of knowledge will aid in improving productivity thereby bringing farmers out of poverty

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