SCIENCE PROJECT

IBCARP: CHEMICAL ECOLOGY OF DROUGHT-TOLERANT PLANTS USED IN THE PUSH-PULL SYSTEM

Underpinning chemical ecology research for adaptation of climate-resilient push-pull technology to key agro-climatic conditions and farmer practices in eastern Africa

PROJECT SUMMARY

START DATE:

Thursday, January 1, 2015 - 09:30

DURATION:

Ongoing

PROJECT LEADER:

There is a need to screen a range of Brachiaria and African Desmodium species for incorporation into the climate-smart push-pull technology. Additionally, the smart defence traits identified in cereal lines and in some of the African grasses need to be exploited to enhance effectiveness of the technology in managing the stemborer pests. Moreover, there is need to understand the extent and impact of the pests on performance of the companion plants, and to develop management approaches for them to ensure sustainability of the technology. From our experience, understanding the mechanisms by which companion plants deliver pest management benefits is crucial to the sustainability of the approach. Towards this, this project will study the mechanisms by with the current and new trap and repellent plants control stemborer pests and striga, as well as improve soil fertility. Tied to this will be the  establishment of the impact of this approach on ecosystem integrity through its influence on pests’ natural enemies, agro-biodiversity and soil health. The project will scale-up the climate-resilient push-pull technology through strategic partnerships with implementers, including Africa conservation agriculture network, national and NGO extension systems, and farmer group networks in the target areas, including international NGOs such as Heifer International, to ensure integration of cereal cropping with livestock husbandry. It is expected that at least 30,000 farmers adopt climate-smart push-pull technology in the target countries.

DETAIL

The overall aim of this project is to conduct new research to adapt the climate-resilient push-pull technology to key agro-climatic conditions and farmer practices in eastern Africa, and address key limitations to its scaling up and sustainability. The project is led by icipe, and Rothamsted will be involved in adapting the climate-resilient push-pull technology to key agro-climatic conditions and farmer practices in eastern Africa. 

Specific objectives include: 

  • Development of partnerships with key research partners and national organizations for further adaptation of the integrated climate-resilient push-pull technology
  • Selection of new and better adapted drought tolerant Brachiaria and African Desmodium species for incorporation into the climate-resilient push-pull technology
  • Identification and incorporation of cereal lines with oviposition-inducible defense systems into the push-pull system 
  • Identification and incorporation of new companion plants with ability to induce defence systems in smart maize into the push-pull system
  • Development of management approaches for emerging pests and diseases of companion plants in the climate-adapted push-pull technology
  • Elucidation of the scientific mechanisms of pest and weed control by the new companion plants;
  • Understanding incidence, distribution and impact of pest and disease complexes (e.g. mites and blister beetles) of Brachiaria and Desmodium in the target areas; 
  • Establish and map agro-ecological suitability for Desmodium seed production in target areas;
  • Establish suitability and optimize the adapted climate-resilient push-pull for various farmer practices (including food legume integration) and target-specific agro-climatic conditions in the target areas; 
  • Establish the effect of the climate-resilient push-pull on agro-ecosystem integrity, including impact on pests, weeds, soil health, agro-biodiversity and pests’ natural enemies.

Increased yield as Striga and stemborers are controlled in sorghum and maize

COLLABORATORS

icipe - Thomas Odhiambo Campus, Mbita, Kenya - Professor Zeyaur Khan (Project Co-ordinator)

EXTERNAL RESOURCES

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