Weed species diversity on arable land of the dryland areas of central Tanzania: impacts of continuous application of traditional tillage practices
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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.
KeywordsLand uses Semiarid areas Tillage systems Weed flora diversity Weed species richness
We are grateful to the financial support from Belgian Technical Cooperation (BTC). We are also indebted to the cooperation shown by smallholder farmers and district officials in Mpwapwa district during field data collection.
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