Potential of push-pull technology options for managing fall armyworm (Spodoptera Frugiperda) in Maize
Fall armyworm is a key insect pest of maize. Without proper management, the pest can cause maize yield losses in the range of 8-21 million tones. It has been through application of synthetic pesticides, use of natural enemies, intercropping, use of resistant varieties, and pheromones, among others. Push – pull technology is generally considered as a cost-effective option for pest management with minimum negative effects on human health and the environment. This study aimed at assessing the potential of different push - pull plant combinations, in managing FAW in maize. Treatments included three plant combination namely, Desmodium + Brachiaria, Molasses grass + Brachiaria, Garlic + Brachiaria, and also Sole maize as a control. Molasses grass + Brachiaria recorded the highest plant height (228.9 ± 0.49cm) while sole maize + had the lowest plant height (191.4 ± 1.00cm). For stem girth, molasses grass + Brachiaria still outperformed the rest (7.3 ± 0.42cm) while garlic + Brachiaria recorded the lowest (5.6 ± 0.34cm). Similarly, desmodium + Brachiaria recorded the lowest number of maize plants infested by FAW (5.3 ± 1.2) while sole maize recorded the highest (31.3 ± 4.2). Desmodium + Brachiaria recorded the highest maize grain weight (12.6 ± 0.8kg) whereas sole maize had the lowest (5.6 ± 0.2kg). The highest Benefit: Cost (B: C) ratio of (14.1) was recorded in plots of Greenleaf desmodium + Brachiaria while the lowest (1.1) was recorded in plots of garlic + Brachiaria. Generally, all push pull plant combinations recorded an increase in maize growth, reduced fall armyworm damage and increased maize grain yield in comparison with control. The push-pull plant combination of Desmodium + Brachiaria outperformed the rest with the highest B: C ratio, and is therefore recommended as the best for consideration in further development of FAW IPM packages.