Questions and Answers

What is the maximum and minimum size of the push -pull plot?

A push-pull plot can range from 50 x 50 m (maximum) or be used on any size farm provided the fields are demarcated into 50 x 50 m sections using border row pull crops of either Napier or Brachiaria grass.

What is the minimum width of a push-pull plot?

Not less than 15 meters (50 ft).

How long can the push-pull plot be kept?

If well managed, you can benefit from your push-pull-plot for 5 or more years.

Can I graze my cattle directly in the push-pull plot?

No. Grazing destroys desmodium and Napier grass.

Can I practice push-pull, if I don’t have livestock?

Yes, because you can sell the Napier and desmodium forage and seed to your neighbors and desmodium can improve the fertility of your soil.

Can I intercrop other crops and trees in the push-pull plot?

Yes, you can successfully intercrop beans into your push-pull plot; these can be interplanted in the same hole or in between the maize/sorghum crop in the same line. The integration of other crops or trees into the push-pull plot may introduce new pest challenges and compromise the effectiveness of the technology. New crops would require research.

Are there alternatives to Napier grass and desmodium?

Yes. A drought-tolerant grass Brachiaria sp. can be planted around the maize or sorghum plot as a trap crop, it is an excellent trap and forage alternative, and another is wild sorghum such as Sudan grass (Sorghum vulgare sudanense) which can also be used to trap stemborers instead of Napier grass. Molasses grass (Melinis minutiflora) can be used to repel stemborers instead of desmodium. Molasses grass does not control striga weed, hence can be used in striga free areas.

How long can desmodium survive in a prolonged drought?

Desmodium can always regenerate after a drought. However you are advised to plough and re-establish a push-pull plot in case of a very prolonged drought or when desmodium fails to regenerate.

Can I plant maize first, then Napier grass after a few weeks?

No. You are advised to plant Napier grass before planting maize, or if planting late, plant both crops at the same time.

When do I start reaping the benefits of the push-pull plot?

You can reap benefits during the second cropping season in areas where farmers plant maize twice in a year, and during the second year in areas where farmers plant only once in a year. However, the benefits are noticed and have been acknowledged immediately upon proper establishment and management by technology users during the first season. For fall armyworm, the defense is immediate upon proper establishment and management of the technology.

Can I use push-pull technology on sorghum?

Yes. Intercrop green leaf desmodium (Desmodium intortum) with sorghum to repel stemborers and control striga weed. This is often encouraged under the climate smart push-pull whereby, the green leaf desmodium which is hardy and can do well in low rainfall areas, is intercropped with the cereal and surrounded by Brachiaria-Mulato II trap crop.

Is push-pull effective against other weeds and insect pests?

Desmodium in the push-pull strategy if managed well can reduce most weeds by smothering them, but both Napier grass and desmodium may not reduce other insect pests. This tested technology is most effective against stemborers and striga weed. A very recent significant finding is the control for fall army worm by this technology. Studies and field findings show that control is effective when maize is inter-cropped with drought-tolerant Greenleaf desmodium and planting Brachiaria as a border crop around this intercrop.

Where can I obtain Napier grass, Brachiaria and desmodium seeds?

Napier grass can be obtained from neighboring farmers or reputable bulking sites (clean Napier stunt resistant cultivars like Ouma2 or South Africa) Desmodium seed is sold by Western Seed Company Ltd., Kitale, Kenya. Brachiaria can be obtained from established root splits during wet season and their seed sources can be confirmed through local agriculture and icipe advisory staff. Also follow the links below to get other suppliers of the planting materials.

What can I do if I don’t get desmodium or Brachiaria seeds?

Use desmodium root splits or cuttings from your neighbour. Brachiaria also can be obtained from established root splits during wet season However ensure that you plant them immediately and when there is adequate soil moisture.

How effective is push-pull against stemborers, fall armyworms and striga weed?

Push-pull is very effective. It is even better than insecticides for the control of stemborers and better than manual removal of striga weed, both in terms of cost and labour. Pushpull is the most effective control. The climate smart push-pull (desmodium & Brachiaria) has proved very effective in inhibiting fall army worm access and damage to the crops.

Can I be given a dairy animal if I establish a push-pull plot?

No. But you can qualify for applying to various projects on dairy animals. Also income generated from sales of fodder and other by products can help in purchasing own animal.

If I don’t have desmodium seed, can I plant only Napier grass in my push-pull plot?

Yes. If you plant only Napier grass, you will be able to reduce stemborers on maize, but you will not be able to control striga weed. However, using both Napier and desmodium gives the best results.

Can the push-pull technology work in all parts of Kenya or Africa?

Yes, but only in areas recommended for growing desmodium, where rainfall and climate allows cropping with low risk of crop.

Can I use other varieties of Napier grass other than Bana grass?

Yes, but it is strongly recommended that one should use clean and Napier stunt disease resistant varieties. Icipe approved cultivars are Ouma2 and South Africa. Field sanitation and hygiene is essential whereby any traces of the disease should be rouged out totally.

Can I use other species of desmodium other than silver leaf?

Yes. You can use greenleaf desmodium (Desmodium intortum). But the results with silverleaf (Desmodium uncinatum) intercropped with maize are the best. Greenleaf desmodium can be used in drier areas and is often used with sorghum cereal crop. Research on African desmodium varieties is on for possible integration

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