Weed species diversity on arable land of the dryland areas of central Tanzania: Impacts of continuous application of traditional tillage practices
Institute of Human Settlements Studies, Ardhi University, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Department of Botany, University of Dar-es-Salaam, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Institute of Resource Assessment, University of Dar-es-Salaam, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Laboratory of Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture and Ethnobotany, Faculty of Bio-Science Engineering, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
This paper presents findings from a study that assessed influence of continuous application of a particular traditional tillage practice on weed species richness, diversity and composition and identifies weed species with positive benefits to the communities in semi-arid areas of Mpwapwa district, central Tanzania. In this area farmers apply three different traditional tillage practices which are no-till (NT), shallow tillage (ST) and Ridging System (RT). A total of 36 farm fields were surveyed in 2006/2007 cropping season where 63 weed species from 26 families were identified. Analysis of variance indicated significant differences between practices (p < 0.05), with NT practice having highest weed species richness and diversity. Among the five more prevalent weed species appearing, Bidens lineariloba was observed to exist in all the three practices. Community representatives during focus group discussions indicated 9 weed species out of 63 identified to have beneficial uses. These species are Cleome hirta, Amaranthus graecizans, Bidens lineoriloba, Bidens pilosa, Dactyloctenium aegyptium, Launaea cornuta, Heteropogon contortus, Tragus berteronianus and Trichodesma zeylanicum. Their main uses include leaf-vegetable, medicines, fodder and materials for thatching. From this study NT has highest weed species richness and diversity which therefore suggests that much more time is needed for weeding in this practice compared to other practice which was the farmers' concern. It was also noted that although weed species have negative effects in crop production and production costs, they still play a vital role in food security and for the health of different people in marginal areas as well as for the complete ecosystem including micro and macrofauna. © 2008 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Crops; Ecosystems; Weed control; Semiarid areas; Tillage systems; Weed flora diversity; Weed species richness; Land use; arable land; community composition; cost-benefit analysis; dryland farming; food security; land use; semiarid region; species diversity; species richness; tillage; weed; zero tillage; Africa; Dodoma [Tanzania]; East Africa; Mpwapwa; Sub-Saharan Africa; Tanzania; Amaranthus graecizans; Bidens; Bidens pilosa; Cleome; Cornuta; Dactyloctenium aegyptium; Heteropogon contortus; Launaea; Tragus berteronianus; Trichodesma