Project Everest

Work Update

Weeds, Weeds, Weeds vol. 2

by
Zoe Cahill
Zoe Cahill | Feb 5, 2018 | in Knowledge Base

Now that the rain has arrived in Sigatoka, this means it is the perfect opportunity for the weeds to continue to grow on our plot. Instead of rows of brown beds, we are seeing nothing but green. Whilst this may be aesthetically pleasing, this is not good news for the planting of our seedlings into the plot. 

Over the first week, the Field Development team was able to consolidate our blueprint, work out exactly where the experiments will be taking place on the beds, plant seeds in our almost constructed greenhouse and investigate a few methods of getting rid of the weeds. 

We came up with 3 methods to be tested on our plot, being Sugar cane mulching, goats and solarisation. 

1. Sugarcane mulching:

This method would smother weeds on the bed and we would only need to maintain the areas that we have created holes to actually grow the plants. There is quite a lot of sugarcane available in Fiji, however, we have since found out that the leftover clippings that would normally be turned into mulch are now be used for biofuel. Additionally, in order to cover the ground that we would need, it would be a significant amount and quite costly. So we are still not sure if this is an option. 

2. Solarisation

This method would be highly effective in smothering the weeds and preventing further growth. The only issue that we are facing is the fact that the rain does not make this task possible. So, we are in the middle of researching if this is still a possible option. 

3. Goats

This solution seems like the best option at the moment. Goats like to eat at the root of the grass which means that they would be able to quickly get to the bottom and begin to thin out our weeds. We have found a couple of farmers who would be willing to loan us their goats. 

 

We have a longer-term option that could potentially work, but we would have to gauge farmers interests, which is cover cropping. This would work if farmers utilised a continuous cropping method and after harvesting each phase they would cover their beds in soil correcting crops, like legumes. 

We have also made the decision to use a herbicide as an initial way to get rid of all the weeds present on our plot. It is becoming unmanageable and needs the assistance of these chemicals as after spending one full day weeding it returns the next day. 

Let us know what you think of these solutions, and if there is anything that has worked that we could potentially try. 

Vinaka

Liv Hendy Feb 5, 2018

The goats are super interesting, I'd be curious to see the effect they would have on the beds (ie damage) but in saying that could be great for farmers who have the livestock/goats already on their property, Re the pesticide used - are you planning on spraying all of the plot or keeping some beds free for ideation? Just a thought as a middle solution between actually being able to work there but also leaving some beds to test other ideas and solutions?

Reply 1

Zoe Cahill Feb 5, 2018

Definitely will keep you in the loop with the goats. We are writing up scientific reports for each experiment that we perform on the plot. In regards to the chemical spray - yes we are only putting on a few beds so we can use that as an experiment as well. We have left quite a few beds for other experiments.

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Mallory Dobner Jul 1, 2018

Status label added: Work Update

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