• Thursday, July 25, 2024
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Using polythene sheets – cheaper way of weed control

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Virtually every farmer incurs huge cost on weed control and prevention as a result of using chemicals called herbicides or mechanical means of removing weeds. Some employ labourers to uproot the weeds and the wages they pay them are huge, making their overhead costs very high and ultimately affecting the bottomline.

According to Wilkipedia, weed is an every day term used in a variety of senses, usually to describe a plant considered undesirable within a certain context. The word – commonly applied to unwanted plants in human-controlled settings, such as farms, fields, gardens, lawns, and parks – carries no botanical classification value, since a plant that is a weed in one context is not a weed when growing where it is wanted.

Indeed, a number of plants that many consider weeds are often intentionally grown in gardens and other cultivated settings. It is applied to any plant that grows or reproduces aggressively, or is outside its native habitat. The term is occasionally used to broadly describe species outside the plant kingdom that can live in diverse environments and reproduce quickly.

Weeds which compete with crops for nutrients are now being suppressed with polythene sheets at the Songhai Farm in Benin Republic. The polythene sheets are spread tightly on the surface of the beds for growing of vegetables such as pumpkins. Round cuts are made at exactly the points where the vegetables have been planted, just wide enough only for each vegetable. So, each vegetable crop has access to sunlight and rain from the small opening.

In addition, the vegetables have openings to emerge from as they sprout, but the grasses that normally grow on the beds all around the vegetables are prevented from having access to sunlight and rain and also no exit to emerge from if they ever get to sprout.

To ensure the vegetables get adequate water, drip irrigators which are small diameter water pipes with tiny holes are laid throughout the length of the beds. This is done even before the polythene sheets are laid on the bed. The pipes are laid in such a way that each of the small openings in the pipe is very close to each of the planted vegetables, which have been planted at the same distance apart as the holes in the pipes, thus limiting again the access of weeds to water. Greyish polythene sheets, rather than black, are used to reduce the absorption of heat by the sheets so the beds would not be overheated.

OLUYINKA ALAWODE