Title: Research highlights
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00071929/00009
 Material Information
Title: Research highlights
Uniform Title: Research highlights (East Lansing, Mich.)
Physical Description: v. : ill. ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Bean/Cowpea Collaborative Research Support Program
Publisher: Michigan State University Bean/Cowpea CRSP
Place of Publication: East Lansing
Publication Date: 1984-
Subject: Beans -- Research -- Periodicals -- Africa   ( lcsh )
Beans -- Research -- Periodicals -- Latin America   ( lcsh )
Cowpea -- Research -- Periodicals -- Africa   ( lcsh )
Cowpea -- Research -- Periodicals -- Latin America   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
periodical   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: Michigan State University Bean/Cowpea CRSP.
Dates or Sequential Designation: Vol. 1, no. 1 (1984)-
General Note: Title from caption.
Funding: Electronic resources created as part of a prototype UF Institutional Repository and Faculty Papers project by the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00071929
Volume ID: VID00009
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 13864898

Full Text

Michigan State University Bean/Cowpea CRSP

Vol. 2 No. 4 1985

Botswana/Colorado State University/de Mooy

Improving Cultural Practices and Agricultural Implements
For Cowpea Production in Semiarid Botswana
C. J. de Mooy
Department of Agronomy
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523

Semiarid climatic conditions in Botswana pre-
sent significant problems for cowpea produc-
tion. They concern the timing and methods of
land preparation and planting, availability of im-
plements and animal draft-power requirements.
These problems are critical because of the ex-
tremely short duration of suitable moisture con-
ditions. This is further complicated in drought
years, which occur frequently.
Traditional farms in Botswana are normally
less than four hectares. Currently used cultural
practices on these farms frequently result in
poor stands and very low grain yields. Planting
cannot be completed until tillage is done which
traditionally utilizes a moldboard plow and a
team of six to eight oxen (Photo 1). Tillage using
this method takes place only after rainfall has
softened the land and the animals are strong
enough to pull the plow. Further, because feed
required to strengthen the animals is produced
only after spring rains begin, serious delays in
planting occur.
In addition, many farmers do not own suffi-
cient animals for tillage operations. They de-
pend on neighbors who complete their own
plantings before lending cattle to others. These
delays result in poor stands and low yields.
Changing the Cycle
There are several ways to alter this cycle. One
is to plow at the end of the cropping season
when the animals are still in good physical con-
dition. Planting can then proceed quickly when
the spring rains arrive. However, this may require
either a second plowing at planting time to
eliminate weeds or two hand-weeding opera-

tions after planting. Hard-pushed farmers are not
inclined to accept this additional field labor.
Minimum tillage requiring drastically reduced
draft power is another alternative.
One goal of the Botswana/Colorado State
University Bean/Cowpea CRSP project working
in conjunction with the Botswana Ministry of
Agriculture is to devise a cropping system to
benefit farmers with limited resources. Many
small farmers are women who often have
limited access to draft power or are men who
have lost many cattle in the drought. A crop-
ping system requiring no more than two oxen
or two to four donkeys appeared desirable. As
a result, tillage equipment and cultural practices
were developed with these constraints in mind.
In cooperation with the Evaluation of Farm-
ing Systems and Agricultural Implements Pro-
ject (EFSAIP), a British agency, two implements
were evaluated which are capable of seedbed
preparation and planting in a single operation.
One of the implements was developed by the
CRSP project, the other by EFSAIP.
One of the implements is a ridgeshaper-
planter (Photos 2 & 3). It can be used on land
previously loosened to a shallow depth of three
inches, or in sandy soils which do not have ex-
cessively hard-setting properties and compac-
tion. The implement consists of two steel blades
mounted in a V-shape, open end to the front,
with a planter shoe between the blades near the
narrow end of the V which is not entirely clos-
ed. The two blades move surface soil toward the
center where it covers the seed placed there by

Funded Through USAID/BIFAD Grant No. AIDIDSAN-XII-G-0261

the planter shoe and builds a shallow soil ridge
over the newly planted row. A link chain is
dragged behind the implement across this ridge
to break up soil clods and to level the ridge
(Photo 3).
A single wing-nut controls planting depth by
allowing vertical adjustment of the planter shoe.
The ridgeshaper-planter places seed at a uniform
depth and accurately in rows, which facilitates
later cultivation. Taking the soil moisture and
the drying rate into consideration, the farmer
can control the depth of planting.
This planting technique is a departure from
the traditional method of broadcast sowing
followed by moldboard plowing. The traditional
method results in considerable variation in seed
planting depth and degree of seed-to-soil con-
tact, with much seed wasted because it fails to
emerge. But, since some seedlings will emerge
regardless of weather conditions after sowing,
seed placement at variable depths is considered
a form of insurance. Both techniques should be
available to farmers since they may want to use
each during the same planting season depending
on time available for planting and day-to-day

Commonly, stands obtained by broadcast
sowing followed by plowing are extremely thin
and poorly distributed. Good stands were ob-
tained with the ridgeshaper-planter in 1983-84.
The ridgeshaper-planter is made from inex-
pensive materials. Local workshops can
manufacture the implement, frequently from
scrap material available in the yard. The design
has no moving parts. Repairs are readily made.
The seed pipe consists of a short length of
garden hose. A plastic household funnel is
placed on top of the hose to receive the seed,
which is simply placed by hand into the funnel.
Because the planter is designed for farmers in
the lowest income category, no automation is

A wooden planter box with positive seed
placement has been designed which eliminates
the need for seed release by hand. The box is
Mounted on the frame. This, and other features,
S can be added to the basic design but would in-
crease its cost.
Another minimum tillage implement tested is
a cultivator-planter (Photo 4). It consists of a
horizontal steel frame with wooden poles that
can accommodate up to six tillage tines and a
planter box. The planter box is ground-wheel
driven. The seed is dropped onto the ground just
in front of the tines which then cover the seed.
The entire width is tilled when six tines are fit-
ted on the planter.

Removal of all except two tines on the far
right side results in strip tillage with
simultaneous planting (Photo 5). With strip
tillage, a shank with a curved lower end is at-
tached at each end of the rear tool bar for
stability and depth regulation. The implement
is so stable when used in this form that no
operator is needed at the handlebars. A small
tine is mounted in front of the planter box to
break the crust and open a small furrow for seed
Other Management Practices
While herbicide application for weed control
is a component of minimum tillage programs in
developed nations, herbicides are too expensive
for the low-yielding agriculture of many
developing nations.
For Botswana conditions, a simple cultivator
drawn by one animal, instead of the traditional
hand hoe, is proposed for weed control. Where
weed stands are considerable, hand hoeing is
usually inadequate. A more effective and less
time-consuming method is needed for careful
weed control under minimum tillage systems,
especially with strip tillage.

2. Simple planters, Duilt rrom inexpensive, locally availaDle
materials and designed for low draft-power requirements,
are being developed as part of a package of improved
cultural practices.

4. Cultivator-planter used tor strip age and lantingof cowpeas in once-over
operation drawn by four donk hard sol which had never been
plowed. J }

5. Rear view of cultivator-planter drawn by two oxen in strip tillage/planting

i. Traartional moldroara plowing uses six to eignt oxen.

J. uerarre view or planter in operation.

Improved land preparation and planting im-
plements are part of a program to develop a
complete package of minimum tillage alter-
natives. Two implements, a ridgeshaper-planter
and a cultivator-planter are being tested in
farmers' fields through a cooperative program
between the CRSP project and the Botswana
Agricultural Extension Services, including
several farming systems groups. At this stage,

cooperators and farmers are using the equip-
ment and providing suggestions for equipment
improvement. Attention is also given to other
cultural practices.
The research initiated under this project in-
vestigates the extent to which one can support
greater efficiency in traditional cropping
systems adapted to harsh environments such as
exist in the country of Botswana.

For further information contact:
Bean/Cowpea CRSP
200 Center for International Programs
Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan 48824-1035

Telephone: (517) 355-4693
Telex: 810-251-0737

An international community of persons, institutions,
agencies and governments committed to collectively
strengthening health and nutrition in developing
countries by improving the availability
and utilization of beans and cowpeas

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs