Push-Pull in practice

The adoption of sustainable agriculture practices has become critical in the face of rising global difficulties related to achieving food security, combating malnutrition, and mitigating environmental degradation. Within this context, the ‘One Health’ (OH) paradigm emerges as a comprehensive approach encompassing human, plant, animal, and environmental health for planetary well-being. Recognizing the complex interdependencies inherent in global health concerns, this approach emphasizes the importance of integrated and synergistic interventions. This is especially true in agriculture, where an overreliance on synthetic inputs to meet the rising demands of an expanding human population has resulted in serious environmental degradation and devastating loss of biodiversity and their valuable ecosystem services. In response, the development and implementation of agroecological farming systems have gained prominence.

Agricultural production system

Push-pull technology provides farmers in East Africa with an eco-friendly strategy that increases crop yield and household income in smallholder cereal systems by controlling pests and improving soil health. Though promising for a sustainably intensified production, push-pull has been used at a limited scale, primarily in maize and sorghum-based production systems.

Agricultural production systemPush-Pull in practice

PPT originated in East Africa and is being continuously improved through cycles of interdisciplinary and participatory experimentation. Despite well-documented benefits to farmers and the environment, more institutional support from agricultural extension systems (AES) is needed for PPT to realise significant impact on poverty reduction, food security, and sustainability.

Farming practicePest/disease controlPush-Pull in practice

Our data provide evidence of the mechanisms underpinning reduced S. frugiperda infestation in the Push-Pull companion cropping system, i.e., volatiles from companion crops repel S. frugiperda while attracting its parasitoid natural enemies. These findings explain why Push-Pull field plots had fewer S. frugiperda larvae and lower crop damage than monocropped maize.

Push-Pull in practice

The pre-Columbian milpa system of intercropping maize with companion crops such as beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) and squash (Cucurbita spp.) is one effective system that has been shown to produce outstanding yields per unit area compared to monoculture systems.

Pest/disease control

Push-pull aims to reduce the abundance of insect pests in crops through repelling the pest in the crop, while simultaneously providing attractive sources to trap the pest out (formalized by Miller and Cowles). Using this ‘stimulo-deterrent diversion’ principle, a push-pull strategy was devised to combat Lepidopteran pests in sub-Saharan smallholder maize farming.

Pest/disease control

The lepidopteron stemborer (Chilo partellus) and parasitic Striga weed (Striga hermonthica) caused major yield losses in subsistence sorghum production in the Eastern Amhara Region, Ethiopia. This study evaluated different number of Brachiaria (Mulato II) rows planted around sorghum plots.

Agricultural production systemPest/disease control

The fall armyworm (FAW) (Spodoptera frugiperda J.E. Smith) is a major cereal pest threatening food security in Africa. African smallholder farmers apply various indigenous pest management practices, including rabbit urine; however, there is no scientific evidence for its efficacy.

Pest/disease control

Production of maize, Zea mays L. (Poaceae), in sub-Saharan Africa is threatened by a new invasive pest, fall armyworm (FAW), Spodoptera frugiperda (JE Smith) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). To mitigate this threat, push–pull companion cropping, a system originally developed for management of lepidopteran stemborers, may be used to control FAW.

Agricultural production systemSoil management

Soil degradation is a major underlying cause of poverty and malnutrition in smallholder agrarian communities across the globe. Legume diversification, through polyculture or intercropping, is a strategy that increases yields and income while improving family nutrition.

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Striga weeds

Striga or 'witchweeds' are parasitic weeds that affect cereal crops in many parts of Africa, reducing production from 30 to 100%, or complete loss of the crop. If maize plants are attacked by both stemborers and striga weed, the yield... Continue Reading…

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