Season: Pre-Sowing Objective

Season: Pre-sowing; sowing/weeding; vegetative; post-harvest Objective

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Pre-sowing; sowing/weeding; vegetative; post-harvest


To ensure that integrated pest and disease management practices follow the principles of sustainable agriculture.


2 hours

Materials needed:

Flip chart, pens, pencils, colored pencils, eraser, permanent markers (black, blue, red and green), measuring tape

Ideal workspace:

Enough space to sit and stand

Background: Pests and disease are an unavoidable component of agriculture, but they can and should be managed as early as possible in order to prevent harmful impacts on crop quantity and quality output. This tool is a guide to explain pest and disease management, identify relevant causes and impacts, and effectively monitor and manage crop pest and disease challenges to mitigate crop damage and improve yields.

Steps to follow for the activity:

Step 1: What is Integrated Pest and Disease Management?

Explain that in integrated pest and disease management, one tries to establish the relation between the environment and the development of crops. By observing the field and the crops, farmers become more conscious about the interaction between the environment and the crop. This knowledge will allow them to identify constraints on crop growth, to make informed decisions, and to adapt strategies that minimize negative effects.

Step 2: The four principles of integrated pest management. Explain that the FFBS approach is based on 4 principles of integrated pest management:

  • Grow a healthy plant: Strong, vigorous plants are better able to tolerate insect and pest damage.

  • Conduct regular field observation and analysis: Farmers can only make good decisions if they have good information. Insect pests, natural enemies, diseases, the growth stage of the crop and the weather are among the factors that should be observed and analyzed.

  • Protect and help natural enemies of pest and disease: Many natural enemies of pest and disease live within the crop field. Others live in wild plants in nearby fields. Natural enemies must also be managed so that they become abundant and effective.

  • Farmers become experts: Farmers must have confidence in their own knowledge and ability to make decisions. If not, they may unintentionally cause harm; ex, if they use too much pesticide.

Step 3: Ranking of key pests and disease of each crop. Ask the farmers to list down the names of the pest and disease challenges of the specific crop. List these in local names for translation later. If possible, use samples to demonstrate the diseases/pests. Once these diseases/pests are identified, have the group rank them from most important to least important (in terms of management priority using numbers or another ranking system (such as placing a certain number of stones or other small items) to designate an order.
Step 4: Revisit crop guides/plans made earlier in the season. The following information should be included in these guides; if some components are missing, fill in with the appropriate information:

  • How to examine the pest/disease on the crop

  • Pest/disease symptoms

  • How to score for incidence and severity

  • How to record that information

  • How to collect and preserve samples

  • How to represent pests/diseases in drawings if necessary

  • What else is useful to mention (e.g. weeds, water, fertilizers, weather conditions, etc.)

  • Traditional agricultural practices done the previous week (fertilizers, spraying, watering, etc.)

  • Important observations and recommendations

Step 5: Divide participants into groups of 4-5, depending on the total number of participants. To make the working time as short as possible, have different groups work on each of the FFBS plots. The same work groups should be maintained throughout the season, but the plot they observe should be changed.
Step 6: Have each group select one person to record all data for a given time period (this can be rotated among group members). Have participants collect data on various aspects such as growth, diseases, pests, and predators, and enter the information in sheets developed for each crop (since each one has unique characteristics and challenges). For example, cassava has Mosaic Disease (CMD) and Brown Streak Disease (CBSD). The corresponding information sheet should score of disease incidences and severity of CMD and CBSD on leaves, at 6 weeks - 3 months after planting and at harvest:

    • Disease incidence is done by counting the number of plants in each plot that exhibit disease symptoms; divide this by the total number of plants in the plot and multiply by 100 to arrive at the percentage incidence.
    • Disease severity scores on leaves will be done on a scale of 1-5 where a score of 1 means no disease symptoms were observed, and a score of 5 means the most severe infection was observed.

    • At harvest, scores of root CBSD will be done on the scale of 1-5 where:

      • 1 = no apparent necrosis;

      • 2 = less than 5% of root necrosis;

      • 3 = 5-10% of root necrosis;

      • 4 = 10 - 25% of root necrosis, mild root constriction; and

      • 5 = >25% of root necrosis and severe root constriction.

Step 6: Discussion. After the evaluations are completed at each point of observation, each group should calculate and record averages and discuss and synthesize findings for presentation to the larger group.
Small groups should present findings from their own plots to the group in plenary.
With the help of the facilitator, the groups then hold discussion on actions to take to manage any challenges encountered. Make sure that the group comes up with actionable items and set timelines for undertaking activities.

Weeds and Weed Management




To enable farmers to identify different types of weeds, competition mechanisms, and appropriately manage.


2 hours

Materials required:

Flip chart and marker

Ideal Workspace:

Enough room to sit and stand.

Background: Weed and weed management lessons are important, as they enable farmers to understand: the concepts of competition between crops and weeds and the mechanisms through which weeds hinder crop growth; how competition between crop and weeds can be influenced to the advantage of the crop; and weed-free periods. By using this tool, farmers will be able to improve their weed management skills and have more positive outcomes.

Steps to follow for the activity:

Step 1. Define and Identify “Weeds”: Remind participants that weeds, in a broad sense, are all plants other than the crops specifically sown by a farmer. Certain plants are not sown by the farmer but are left in the field for other uses and needs, such as amaranth and wild watermelon. These are often not considered weeds by farmers.
In the group, determine the different weeds that occur in the farmers’ fields. List these weeds on the flip chart.
Step 2. Why do weeds have a negative effect on crops? Explain that weeds produce negative effects on crops because:

  • There is competition for resources between weeds and the crop for: water, food (nutrients/elements in the soil), air, light, and space

  • Weeds may host diseases and animals; some weeds act as hosts or attractants to pests while others may provide a safe haven for animals such as rabbits and rats and certain plants are particularly good vectors for crop-impacting disease

  • Parasitic weeds such as Striga don’t just compete with crops for resources, they actually extract water and nutrients through connections between their roots and those of the crop

  • Some weeds produce substances that are toxic to crops and humans

  • Weeds may reduce yields and crop quality in the short- and long-terms, affecting income.

Step 3. Understanding the critical weed-free period of the crops: Most crops are sensitive to weed competition during the early developmental stages (first 3-4 weeks after emergence). With the group, outline the sensitive crop development stages for each of the crops in a table like the one listed below:



Sensitivity to weeds

Step 4. Serious problem weeds: With the farmers, observe and/or list the most problematic weeds for each crop in the location. Collect samples and write the names (in local language) and periods when they occur, as follows:

Name of weed

Crops affected

Time of appearance (crop stage)

Measures farmers take to manage them

Step 5. Control options for weeds: Regardless of crop and weed type, there are standard weed control mechanisms that farmers can apply to avoid major losses due to weeds. After going through the options highlighted in the last step, take the farmers through following measures and their discuss contribution to weed management:

  • Prevention through good quality crop seed that is devoid of weed seeds and with high germination potential

  • Agronomic measures including crop residue management, number of crop varieties, intercropping, rotation of crops, and composting; all of these kill the weed seeds

  • Mechanical control, including weeding, tillage, ridging, and creation of plant hills

  • Chemical control (use of herbicides) with emphasis on minimal use and as a last resort; some farmers in areas may consider costs of herbicides to be less than those of mechanized weed control or of labor so discussions should be around safe use of pesticides

Evaluation of FFBS Plots


Sowing/Weeding  during germination and establishment


Enable farmers to make observations on both the farmer practice and FFBS plots, collect and record data


2 hours

Materials required:

Flip Charts, Marker pens, Containers, Soil, Seed, Water


FFBS plots for observation and additional space to sit and stand as a group

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