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A climate-adapted push-pull system effectively controls fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (J E Smith), in maize in East Africa

Midega, Charles A.O., Pittchar, Jimmy O., Pickett, John ORCID:, Hailu, Girma W. and Khan, Zeyaur R. 2018. A climate-adapted push-pull system effectively controls fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (J E Smith), in maize in East Africa. Crop Protection 105 , pp. 10-15. 10.1016/j.cropro.2017.11.003

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Fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (J E Smith), an economically important pest native to tropical and subtropical America has recently invaded Africa, causing substantial damage to maize and other crops. We evaluated functionality of a companion cropping system, ‘climate-adapted push-pull’, developed for control of cereal stemborers in drier agro-ecologies, as an added tool for the management of fall armyworm. The technology comprises intercropping maize with drought-tolerant greenleaf desmodium, Desmodium intortum (Mill.) Urb., and planting Brachiaria cv Mulato II as a border crop around this intercrop. Protection to maize is provided by semiochemicals that are emitted by the intercrop that repel (push) stemborer moths while those released by the border crop attract (pull) them. 250 farmers who had adopted the technology in drier areas of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania were randomly selected for the study during the long rainy season (March-August) of 2017. Each farmer had a set of two plots, a climate-adapted push–pull and a maize monocrop. Data were collected in each plot on the number of fall armyworm larvae on maize, percentage of maize plants damaged by the larvae and maize grain yields. Similarly, farmers' perceptions of the impact of the technology on the pest were assessed using a semi-structured questionnaire. Reductions of 82.7% in average number of larvae per plant and 86.7% in plant damage per plot were observed in climate-adapted push-pull compared to maize monocrop plots. Similarly, maize grain yields were significantly higher, 2.7 times, in the climate-adapted push-pull plots. Farmers rated the technology significantly superior in reducing fall armyworm infestation and plant damage rates. These results demonstrate that the technology is effective in controlling fall armyworm with concomitant maize grain yield increases, and represent the first documentation of a technology that can be immediately deployed for management of the pest in East Africa and beyond.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Chemistry
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0261-2194
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 22 November 2017
Date of Acceptance: 9 November 2017
Last Modified: 04 May 2023 19:07

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