John Pickett & Zeyaur Khan From  Rothamsted Research & International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (Kenya) Have Been Working On Companion Plantings That Push & Pull To Repel Pests From Crops & Attract Them To Intercropped Trap Plants.

Companion Plantings That Push & Pull,Striga Growing With Maize. Image Attribution: Aneth David (SLU), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The cropping system which is funded by BBSRC; International Foundation for Science, EU; & Rothamsted International African Fellowship is capable of more than trebling maize yields by repelling stem boring insects with a repellant intercrop combined with a series of trap plants that attract the insect. Chemicals released by the intercrop plants roots also induce abortaive germination of the noxious plant parasite, striga.

Striga, aka witchweed, is a genus of parasitic plants that occur naturally in parts of Africa, Asia, and Australia. Some species are serious pathogens of cereal crops, including maize, with the greatest effects being in savanna agriculture in Africa.

How Companion Plantings That Push & Pull Work With Added Benefits

The above system has been designed for farmers in Kenya and has an added benefit. The intercrop plant also provides a high value fodder crop that can be fed to cows where it increases milk production and adds to the financial income and food security of local farmers. It doesn’t stop there, the plant also improves soil fertility and reduces soil degradation.

Another upside is that the technology economical for local farmers as it is based on locally available plants, with no expensive external inputs. It also fits into existing the traditional mixed cropping system that has been used ion this part of Africa for generations.

The researchers report the system has been adopted by over 40,000 smallholder farmers in East Africa, where maize yields have been increased from 1 t/ha to 3.5 t/ha, achieved with minimal inputs. Plus of course there are the added benefits mentioned above.

I have severe doubts about many companion planting ideas, many have no basis in science. However, this one makes sense and is well cited.

More on Push Pull Systems

Push – Pull cropping and related systems have also been reported to control army worms and other pests. Find out more information at the “push-pull” website.

Research Source

Tag: Companion Plantings That Push & Pull
Image Attribution: Aneth David (SLU), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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