Living Fences

Intercropping for Pest Control: The Push-Pull Approach

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From ECHO’s Seed Bank: Pumpkin variety trial results

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Living Fences

Franklin Martin

Fences are established on the small farm for a variety of reasons. They are used to mark boundary lines between farms or next to roads, and to separate adjacent fields used for distinct purposes. Fences are used to protect and keep animals from straying (to keep animals ‘in’), or to protect crops from animal damage (to keep animals ‘out’). Living fences are commonly used in a wide range of ecological situations, from semi-arid to rainforest conditions. Suitable plant materials are available for almost all ecological regions and conditions.

Very long fences are usually constructed of poles with wire strung between them. Shorter fences, such as those used for fencing small animals or kitchen gardens, may be constructed entirely of wood, or of a combination of materials, such as poles, slats, and woven or welded wire. Both types of fences may be constructed of living posts.

Pumpkin Varieties to Try

Abigail Kautz and Timothy Chapman

As indicated by their orange/yellow flesh, many pumpkins are high in beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A with antioxidant properties. Vitamin A is important for healthy eyes, skin, bones and teeth, and for proper immune system function. Many pumpkins are also rich in vitamins B and E and in calcium. The seeds contain essential amino acids and iron. Pumpkin skins, flesh, seeds, and leaves can all be cooked and eaten (What more could you want from a vegetable?). This versatile vegetable source also can be stored for up to several months if the fruit is left on the vine until it has hardened and then put in a cool, dry, and dark place.

Previous ECHO pumpkin variety trials (in 2002 and 2006) focused on tropical pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata). For this most recent trial in autumn 2011, we chose to evaluate two of our long-standing top performers (C. moschata ‘Lloyd Marsh’ and ‘Acorn’) along with new possibilities from C. moschata, C. pepo, C. mixta, and C. maxima. We planted three replications of each cultivar, with 10 plants in each plot.

Intercropping for Pest Control

Tim Motis

“Push-pull” is an intercropping strategy that protects maize and other grain crops against maize stemborer insect larvae (Chilo partellus) and a parasitic weed called striga (Striga hermonthica). In eastern and southern Africa, these pests have caused huge losses in maize and sorghum yields. Average maize yield losses to stemborer are 20%-40%, with losses as high as 80% in some instances. Striga reduces yields 30% to 100%, sometimes causing farmers to abandon fields.