Insect nets can protect crops from desert locusts
White insect nets, which can reduce the need for pesticides by 80 per cent, can also provide a relatively cheap and simple way for small-scale farmers to prevent desert locusts from ravaging their crops, say experts, as the swarms continue to sweep many parts of Kenya.To get more news about Dragon Fruit Protection Insect Net Bag Acting
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The advice comes as recommendations that farmers create noise and make smoke have been found to have little effect against the disastrous swarms, while the use of chemical pesticides by the government continues to run behind the scale and growth of the swarms.
According to Cynthia Waitiri, sales agronomist at TransGlobal Distributors Ltd, which supplies agronet products from the Tanzanian manufacturer, A to Z, currently they are selling zero 4 and zero 9 white insect nets to farmers who are at threat of locust invasions, especially around Mt Kenya region. ‘
’The zero 4 nets have smaller mesh or hole sizes fit for crops with small leavers such as tomatoes and cucumbers while the zero 9 have bigger holes and are suitable for plants with bigger leavers such as cabbages and kales,’’ said Waitiri, who also covers Nairobi, Murang’a and Kiambu counties.
The company sells the nets in rolls whereby a roll of zero 4, which is seen as the best protection from locusts, goes at Sh95 per square metre, while that of zero 9 sells at Sh65 per square metres. All come in different sizes such as 5.5x30m and 4x50m.
Scientists from KALRO, Egerton University and ICIPE, all concur that the nets can offer a cost-effective management option against birds, snails, caterpillars, flies and locusts for mallholder growers.
The anti-insect nets are effective in protecting a wide range of crops, vegetables, fruits and all seedling productions.
‘’For preventing locusts, we recommend the nets with 50 per cent or zero 4 hole sizes, which, apart from keeping the insects away, also allow the crops to get sufficient aeration and avoid a confinement of crops that would lead to fungal diseases,” said Erick Kinoti, Sales and Marketing Agronomist at Shade Systems EA Ltd, provides of provider of shade solutions in Kenya.
He says that the white insect nets have the advantage of being financially affordable, especially for smallholders who are at the risk of being adversely affected by the menace and of being able to provide effective protection against other emerging pests too.
For Peter Oduor, a technician at Agronets for Africa, a Nirobi-based firm that installs the nets for farmers, the nets are supposed to be set depending on the crops maximum heights to ensure the growing plants are not limited in space, while leaving no room for any pests to enter.
‘’For instance, white insect nets installation to a height of 50cm is recommended for cabbages and 1.2m for tomatoes with the same width of 5.5m and 30m length,’’ said Oduor, adding that if well managed the nets should last for about 10 years and then can still be recycled for use.
The space between two frames (vaults) should be 1.5 by 2.5m and farmers should keep up to 0.3m around the edges for closing the nets around the crops with sand bags, stones or wood.