The decline in yield of plantain has partly been attributed to inadequate soil moisture and pests, particularly nematodes. The objectives of the study therefore were to determine the effect of mulch from Leucaena leucocephala and Flemingia macrophylla (Willd.) Merr. grown as hedgerows on (i) soil moisture and temperature (ii) growth and yield of plantain and (iii) pathogenic nematode populations. The study was conducted from 1991 to 1994 in Kumasi, Ghana. Treatments comprised of leguminous plants, L. leucocephala and F. macrophylla, and a control (no leguminous plants), arranged in a randomised complete block design with four replications. The leguminous plants were planted in 1991 while the plantain was planted in 1992. Results indicated that the highest biomass yield was produced by F. macrophylla. Mulching with prunings of F. macrophylla resulted in significantly (P < 0.05) higher retention of soil moisture and lower soil temperatures than mulching with prunings of L. leucocephala. Growth of plantain determined by plant height, leaf production, pseudostem girth and yield were significantly greater in F. macrophylla mulched plots than L. leucocephala treatment and control plots where no mulch was applied. Plant parasitic nematodes isolated were Meloidogyne spp., Pratylenchus spp., Paratylenchus spp., Helicotylenchus spp., and Rotylenchus spp. Three years after planting of hedgerows, significantly (P < 0.05) higher populations of Meloidogyne spp. (367 per 100 g soil), Paratylenchus spp. (92 per 100 g soil), Helicotylenchus spp. (8 per 100 g soil), and Rotylenchus spp. (308 per 100 g soil) were associated with L. leucocephala hedgerow than with Flemingia macrophylla hedgerow (42.0, 83.0 per 100 g soil) and the control (74.50, 41.0 per 100 g soil). F. macrophylla has qualities that suppress nematode populations. The results clearly indicated the superiority of Flemingia macrophylla over Leucaena leucocephala as mulch for plantain production.
hedgerow prunings pathogenic nematodes soil moisture soil temperature