Control pests like this

15 February 2021 | Agriculture

Windhoek • Hanks Saisai

Whether you have a small garden to grow your own produce, or if you’re a large-scale farmer, crop production is an activity that involves the cultivation or tilling of land to enable people to grow their own food for self-sustenance.
However, farmers can encounter several challenges before they can harvest their desired produce. One of the most predominant challenges are pests and diseases.
Pests are organisms that attack crops by eating them or causing diseases.
When growing crops, it is of great importance that farmers acquire knowledge of the types of pests that may attack and cause damage to crops.
There are mainly four types of pests: Chewing pests that eat and chew on crop leaves (grasshoppers, slugs and snails); Sucking pests (aphids, red spider mites and mites that are normally found on the underside of leaves); Stinging pests (melon fly or pumpkin fly can be harmful to fruit vegetables as they sting and pierce on fruits causing them to rot on the pierced or stung part); and Soil pests (like cutworms that attack roots).

Pests can be controlled using chemicals, biological methods such as introduction of a natural enemy, by using good agricultural practices such as crop rotation, and in some cases by using homemade remedies.
• Cigarettes can be turned into a homemade remedy to control caterpillars (chewing pests) in the following way: Fill a pot with 5 litres of water. Then add a cup full of cigarette butts into the pot and boil for 30 minutes. Thereafter, filter the water through a cloth. Then add one large spoon of finely chopped soap to the liquid. Thereafter dilute the mixture (poison) with 1 litre of water, then spray the mixture on the leaves. The nicotine in the cigarettes kills chewing pests. Allow a grace period of at least four days before eating the vegetable leaves.
• Chop or crush three cloves of garlic and soak in liquid paraffin for three days. Then add a large spoon of finely chopped soap and mix the poison by adding 10 litres of water. Spray the poison onto the crops. This will kill some insects and at times act as a repellent.
• A garlic/chilli-based spray is effective for small sucking insects such as aphids as well as caterpillars. Combine crushed garlic and chilli (powdered chilli will do if you don't have fresh) with one tablespoon of vegetable oil and a small amount of dishwashing liquid or soap flakes. Leave the mixture to soak overnight in a jar, then strain and spray on plants. Avoid contact with your skin and eyes and keep away from kids. The mixture should be used within two weeks.
To successfully control pests, farmers are encouraged to use the recommended spacing requirements (spacing between and within rows). Also ensure that you use pest resistant seeds and adopt Good Agricultural Practices such as early planting to increase the chances of yielding a good harvest.
*Hanks Saisai is AgriBank’s Technical Advisor: Crops & Poultry.