Alternative weed management in organic banana agrosystems

S. Lakhia, M. Dorel, R. Achard
In organic farming, the use of herbicides is prohibited. It is therefore necessary to mobilize alternative techniques for weed management. Currently, banana farms certified in organic farming can mobilize four types of solutions for weed management i) mowing techniques, ii) mulching with crop residues or with recyclable and reusable cover, iii) installation of cover crops for weed growth regulation, and iv) selective weeding in the spontaneous vegetal cover. However, the mobilization of these alternatives may reveal negative environmental impacts and increase the hardships and the cost of agricultural work. This study evaluated the impact of weed competition on banana growth and the impact of different weed management options in organic banana agrosystems. In a first experiment in Martinique comparing different mechanical weed control options with a conventional herbicide control, we evaluated the effect of competition for nitrogen from the weed cover on the banana crop. A set of technical tests conducted in Guadeloupe studied the feasibility and the impact of a range of weed management options suitable for organic production. Weed cover managed by mowing demonstrated a high competition for mineral nitrogen during the first banana crop cycle, but no additional negative impact was observed during the second cycle. Mowing tools promoted a higher grass species diversity in the cover but compacted soils. Cover crops provided an effective weed regulation but required a significant cost to set up. Mulching with vegetal material or polypropylene cover ensures good weed control except against the lianas. This option is suitable for weed control during the beginning of the first cycle. Afterwards, a possible option is the selective weeding, which consists of the manual elimination of plants such as Mikania micrantha, Ipomeae sp., considered to be harmful for the crop. This practice can also be combined with mowing management.
Lakhia, S., Dorel, M. and Achard, R. (2023). Alternative weed management in organic banana agrosystems. Acta Hortic. 1367, 217-224
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2023.1367.25
alternative, control, organic farming, weed

Acta Horticulturae