Pulses (leguminous plants) Values and Management: Why farmers should avoid Certain Practices

Most pulses provide essential plant proteins in the food we eat and they are therefore a particularly important part of a balanced diet. This is especially for children, nursing mothers and elderly. They are also related and intercropped with other crop since they fix nitrogen in the soil.

Pulses belong to the family that include legumes such as cowpeas, soybeans, pigeon peas, beans, mucuna, tephrosia, and may wild plants. Cowpeas green pods and leaves when they are young and tender are eaten as vegetables.

Soybean is very valuable source of protein and is used to produce the highly nutritious soybean milk suitable for growing children; soybean oil is also nutritious and good for cooking.

Ground nuts are eaten roasted, used in ground nut stews, and used in producing cooking oil, shells can be used in mushroom planting and trashes can be fed to animals as fodder. The good principle for good yields includes:

  • Obtain certified seeds from registered deals or stores; good seeds can also be selected from healthy pest free and disease free plants from last season harvest.

What happens? Healthy seeds produce good crop stand, resistant varieties do not develop certain pest problem (e.g.  Wilt in cowpeas, rosette in ground nuts).

  • Select fertile soil a well drained soil; pulses are very sensitive to water-logging and flooded. So avoid water-logged or flooded soils.

What happens? Crops grown in water-logged places grow poorly and may die under disease pressure.

  • Plan crop rotation that you do not have pest in common; rotate pulses with maize, millet and sorghum, or with vegetables or roots and tuber crops.

What happens? Soil borne pests such as nematodes, striga or soil diseases do not build up in the soil, so crop plants remain free of these problems.

  • Adopt appropriate planting distances and planting patterners.

What happens? Crowding, which hampers growth and development, is avoided. Row planting makes crop management operation easer, and intercropping reduces pest and disease pressure and planting ground nuts densely will reduce infection by aphids as a virus carrier.

  •  Plant crops in time so that their growth coincides with low pest and disease incidence. Diseases are prevalent during the peak of the wet season (e.g. anthracnose) pest build up

What happen? Plants grow well in the absence of high insect pest and disease pressure; maintaining in time and escaping periods when pests and diseases are prevalent in the field.

  • Weed early and carefully; do early, shallow weeding and prevent weeds from flowering and produce seeds. Weed carefully with hand hoe, within the first 3 weeks after planting.

What happens? Less weeding is needed and there is less hand hoe damage to crop roots, weeds are prevalent from producing seeds and thus the weed problem is not perpetuated the flowing season.

By Mulopi Joseph, Celac mayuge district farmers’ network.

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