By Joshua Kato
Even when a farmer has used improved varieties and seed, applied fertilisers as recommended and watered/irrigated his crops adequately, there is no guarantee that he will get a good crop.
All crops are susceptible to damage by pests. If left uncontrolled, pests can cause serious destruction and damage.
There are several types of pests and diseases that may cause losses for farmers. They include insects, nematodes (which are mainly tiny worms), pathogens that include bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites, vertebrates (usually small animals like rats, mice, birds, flying foxes and bats or bigger animals like the wild boar, pigs, monkeys and baboons) and weeds.
Weeds compete with the main crop for the available resources like water, space, sunlight and plant foods or nutrients.
Weeds can also harbour parasites, insects and pathogenic diseases.
There are various types of crop protection. Insects are protected by the use of insecticide; nematodes are killed by mematicides, pathogens are controlled by bactericides and fungicides, weeds are controlled by using herbicides and weedicides.
Tips to farmers when buying crop protection products;
- Make sure you buy products from well-known dealers.
- Only buy sealed packages of chemicals that bear their original label and brand.
- Always read the label and follow instructions. If you cannot read or understand the label, have someone to help you. Write notes to help you remember.
- Make sure that you know what you need and buy the right product to address your problem.
- Seek advice from your local agriculture extension worker if you cannot identify what is causing the problem.
- Always save the container and receipt from your purchase.
- Do not apply chemicals when it is raining or when rain is expected very soon. Apply in the morning after the dew is gone or evening when it is cooler.
- Make sure that the chemical is applied correctly. Incorrectly applied chemicals can kill crops.
- Take note of the inscriptions on the containers. These include the brand name, list of pests that the chemical can control, net content by weight or volume, name and address of the manufacturer, directions of proper usage. Storage instructions and the precautions to be observed while disposing off the container.
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